Sunday, 18 August 2013

[Competition Report] Vale View 10.8.13

Oops, this is a bit late! So last Saturday we headed off to Vale View for the dressage again and the classes were a lot bigger than we are used to with 30 in the first and 27 in the second! Yet, surprisingly, when we got there, there wasn't actually as many people around as we expected, especially considering there was show-jumping going on as well! With so many people in the classes, I obviously wasn't expecting to place but I was hoping to do some nice tests...I think Pea had other ideas! 

Prelim 12:
Pea warmed up really nicely I felt, obviously his canter was a bit off as we are still trying to work on it but I went in feeling a bit confident and hoping he would perform okay. I felt that the start went nicely, not great but he was listening and starting to soften a bit. Then we hit canter and things went slightly downhill but he still cantered, although, unfortunately, we ended up doing the majority of right canter on the incorrect lead. I have mentioned before that when schooling, Pea often finds it really hard to pick up the correct canter lead on the right rein, and even when he is on the correct lead he can't sustain it and soon ends up falling back into trot or doing a really horrid, hardly moving, canter. At the end of the test the judge got out of her car and commented about our right canter and mentioned about needing to keep trying, which I totally understand, however, she then went on to call me ignorant for not coming back into trot and that it's dangerous for him to keep cantering on the incorrect lead as he will fall. Again, I completely understand that him being on the wrong leg is dangerous, however, it's easier said than done about bringing him back into trot and trying for canter again as he gets really worked up and just pulls. She then went on to say about how to work on it, which was nice, however she wasn't listening to me when I told her that we've tried poles, that I don't school in a field (let alone one with ridges which she continued to talk about!) and that my instructor and I are working on it. By the time she had finished, I was starting to get upset about how she had continued to go on and I was half thinking about her getting on him to see just how difficult he is for the correct canter lead. When I got our score sheet back there were a few comments about the first part of the test that I didn't agree on, saying he was tense and not bending properly, yet I felt that he was showing some correct bend and I'm sure he wasn't tense! We came away with 52.8%, yet surprisingly didn't come last..just second last! 

Prelim 14:
I had an hour and a half to wait between my first test and my second test, and by the time I got on to warm up for my second test I had put the first one behind me. Again Pea warmed up nicely, but this time when we hit canter he went all silly and put in a small buck or two. When we went in for our test and started trotting around, Pea automatically stopped listening and I tried a few transitions from trot to walk but they didn't seem to do much good as he just shot his head in the air! I knew this wasn't going to go well! There are very few comments on our score sheet throughout the test, and he mainly got 6's for the first range of movements. We then hit right canter and again he struck off on the incorrect lead, so I came back to trot and tried again, he eventually got correct canter on the circle to then buck which I pushed him forward from but instead he decided to let out a bigger buck, unseating me a bit but luckily I stayed on and gathered ourselves up to try again. Unsurprisingly he only scored a 2 for the two canter movements, but then recovered himself to get 6's again before hitting left canter. This went slightly better, though he was tense which is normal for his canter so I'm working on getting him to relax more and realise that canter isn't so bad. He then finished nicely with a straight square halt, obviously making up for the rest of the test! The judge's comments were that he was "very tense - at times quite naughty and some irregular steps shown, need to relax more", all of which I completely agree with..but as usual, easier said than done to try and overcome! (This was a different judge by the way!) We score 52.9% so not great but considering he bucked through it, a reasonable score! 

I have decided to have a break from competing and really work on his canter and this may take quite a few months but he's on a bit of a boot camp. He is fine cantering out hacking, and weirdly he will happily canter on the right rein round the whole of the arena a few times, yet the left rein he finds it hard to canter half the arena...therefore making it really difficult! He's getting better on the lunge and not falling his quarters in quite so much! 

Thanks for reading, 
Laura & Pea x

Monday, 5 August 2013

[Monthly Review] July 2013

July seems to have been a bit more of a quiet month, I think the heat has meant that I've not worked Pea as hard, however, it does seem to have done some good to our schooling! The heat has meant that Pea has been slightly more lethargic in his work but he's also produced some really nice work and is really starting to soften onto the contact and move much better. The summer heatwave also seemed to have help our halting as at Vale View he got an 8 for his halt! I was so proud as we've had issues with that but I think he was feeling a bit lethargic with the hot, stuffy air and that made him decide to stand properly! You can read about our competition report from Vale View here. We have, however, had a few issues with our left bend and right canter and so I've spent the past couple of weeks really focusing on these areas. 

For the left bend I've spent a lot of time doing plenty of circles and leg-yielding. In-fact, I spent one schooling session doing so many circles and trotting poles in walk and trot that before I had noticed we'd done 40 minutes and not hit canter so I decided to finish there on a good note rather than then go into canter and get stressed if things didn't go well. The leg-yielding has helped open him up a bit and has been really useful for going into canter. In a lesson we had a few weeks back, after our dressage test where our canter went a bit disastrous, my instructor noticed that for right canter Pea bends to the left and that means that my body is turned to the left and therefore I am in the wrong position for right canter. Trying to correct this is a lot harder than it sounds as trying to apply the right aids with my legs and turn my shoulders the right way with Pea turning me the wrong way and ask for the correct canter lead is a lot to think about doing with just a few seconds to do them! If you think about it, trying to put your outside leg back and your inside leg forward as well as turning to the inside so your right shoulder goes back is difficult enough as you normally turn to where your leg goes back and having your horse automatically turn you that way anyway really makes it difficult so I've done some work on the ground to help open my body up as well. To overcome this in the saddle, I have found that going onto a circle and then asking for canter means that I am in the correct position as he bends well round the circle and his canter is slowly getting better! He was also due his teeth so he's had them done and it seems to have helped, especially as he was a bit crazy on the lunge the next day! 

July also brought our 5 year anniversary (blog post here), and I honestly cannot believe how quickly time has flown! To some people it may not seem like we have achieved much in terms of competing or level, however I believe it is the small achievements that mean the most and I honestly cannot think of a life without Pea so I am glad for the choices I have made such as buying a horse without getting it vetting just for it to go hopping lame a week later or how I only viewed Pea once because without these choices they wouldn't have bought me Pea! 

Thanks for reading, 
Laura & Pea x