Monday, August 20, 2018

FSHS Online Dressage Show: Training Level 2/3

Following our erm... theatrical trail ride, Annie had a few days off as the temperatures sky-rocketed and my will to slap on some breeches and tall boots waned. I took the time to hang out at the beach one day, walk the dogs along the river, and even spend some time with friends.

Speaking of friends, a good friend of mine, Alaina, from Alberta came up to visit family and eagerly invited me to ride out with another friend, Heidi (she has the Spanish mare). Through the last two months, Alaina has tried to get me and Annie to participate in an online Dressage show that her horse club has running as part of a fundraiser. I declined the first few times, mostly because trying to set up a Dressage arena in the ginormous ring at the local grounds would be super frustrating and annoying.

Annie: "So I should buck her off at A so I can make a quick exit from the arena, right?"
Navarro: "You have to spook FIRST. Make it look like an accident."
However, the opportunity arose to ride with Heidi, as she was partaking in the online show and Alaina had graciously offered to video her. After thinking it through *cough* peer pressure *cough* I agreed but reluctantly offered that Annie had been starting to cross-fire again and it would be a mess and a half.

With the day of the tests approaching, I took the time to head out to the local grounds and work on our broken canter. After cantering circles upon circles, Annie finally got her fucking head back on and cantered like a normal horse. As per Karen's instruction from when this was happening earlier this year, I popped her with the whip every time she switched. I had some inklings as to why she was switching but regardless of those thoughts, I wasn't asking for anything super strenuous or crazy.

Anyways, we got her straightened around and I apprehensively got myself and Annie ready for the tests the next morning.

The next morning, I hauled Annie out the 45min to the TSC grounds and she was good to load and unload. She tied well, although looked around a bit before settling to munch her hay. I tacked her up in between chatting with both ladies, catching up on how everyone's horses have been and latest training woes. I took the time to try and make Annie and I presentable, but still used #allthepurple since there wasn't any required formal dress.

A screen shot of one of our tests during a stretchy circle.
Check out that purple!!!
I took the time to warm her up carefully and consciously, being aware that she typically sucks back in the TSC arenas. I wanted to take the time to school her and if I needed to boot her forwards, I would do just that. She was good tho - she felt slightly behind the leg but not nearly as bad as it was just a few short weeks ago.

Annie warmed up pretty well and although we had some minor issues in the canter, it was rideable and she got her shit together enough for me to willingly want to trot down center line. I went first, since Heidi would be doing First with her mare for the first time.

These tests were not familiar to us, as BC typically uses HCBC tests and all other provinces use Equine Canada/ USEF. While they have a similar vibe, they ARE different. Heidi and I have never ridden these tests, aside from briefly reading them the day of the show.

The first test we had almost completely finished, except Heidi read the test wrong and ended up making me go off course. It was an unfortunate mistake, but it also meant I needed to redo the test, unless I wanted to submit the off course, haha. We didn't have a terrible test and I was kinda sad we had to scrap the whole thing and start again. Alaina helpfully reminded me to use my corners and off we went, back in to re-try TL2.

Another screen -shot. Soon this will be
our regular trot. Unlike our "regular" trot, where she
can get kinda retracted in her throat-latch.
I rode and it felt good, aside from botching our first canter - we had just had issues with the canter in our warm-up that I stupidly thought she picked up the wrong lead... so I brought her back and asked again - she offered the wrong lead... I brought her back again and then she got it. Poor mare got pats for my stupidness. Ugh.

Otherwise the test went well, save for our second canter wherein she picked up the wrong lead first and then picked up the lead properly on the second try.

One thing tho, that realllly irritates me is just how much Annie's tail snaps around. Does anyone else have a horse like this?! It quiets down, but holy... it makes me look like I'm abusing my horse or something. She has always done it and it typically gets worse during periods of stress/annoyance/pissiness, and I know for a fact that arena gets her flag-tail flying.

Anyways, Alaina and Heidi asked if I wanted to do my second test right away or to take a breather. I opted to do TL3 right away and that's when the wheels fell off a bit. It was partly my fault and tbh, partly the horse's fault. We went into our first canter and she kinda fizzled down the longside to our circle and instead of getting her in front of my leg, she stumbled into a trot. I kissed her up into a trot, but she got the wrong lead, and then switched the front and left the back.

I called out "Going to do that test again!" and promptly went straight to schooling. Annie felt super pissy and after I asked her to canter again, she switched a thousand fucking times. I was so embarrassed to have my friends watching as I literally just sat as Annie worked out the #feelings she had. She humped up as she switched back and forth, and I just booted her forwards. She did flying changes, half changes.... I appreciated as Heidi and Alaina tried to call out things to try. I told them that it didn't matter what I did - if mare wanted to switch she was gonna do it. Heidi called out a few things to try and as I attempted (and failed) to do them, she called out, "Holy fuck, she's athletic Cathryn."

Yah, haha. Thank you.

Slightly retracted thru her neck, but otherwise
she's doing the thing, bending quietly and was very
nice to ride here.
After that, I went back to giving Annie taps with the whip when she changed and I didn't ask for it. Other than that? I just rode it. She got mad, she got frustrated, and finally she sighed and went back to our regularly scheduled program.

Once the war was won, I stopped and chatted with Alaina and Heidi, mentioning that I was pretty sure what her issue was. Essentially, mare has done A LOT this year. Lots of hard clinics, lots of travelling, and lots of hard work. It may not seem like it, but we easily surpassed our clinic total from last year THREE TIMES OVER.

The last time Annie got adjusted was in the Spring and I had an inkling she was needing another adjustment, especially since she has had a long season of hard riding.

There were a few times, I noted, that she changed and I gave her a tap with the whip and she tried her damndest to change back but just couldn't balance herself to do it. This was momentary tho, as most of it felt like #opinions.

We did get to a common ground and once Annie didn't have so many feelings, we wandered out of the arena and lined ourself up to re-enter the Dressage court and do the thing.

This test was by far our best test we've ever laid down.

I was very, very happy with her.

I could talk and talk about it, but I think the video speaks for itself.

You guys, I've worked so fucking hard with this horse and the amount of blood, sweat, and tears I've poured into her finally felt worth it. Even if we had to have several minutes of beating before that, haha. She finally felt rideable in that arena and although she's a titch behind the leg still, I actually felt like she was a bit fancy for once. She was trying and I was happy with that.

Viewers will note I went off course again in this test, as Heidi read the wrong letter (haha), but I refused to do another go round since Annie was being so good. So sometimes you gotta take what you can get. I know Alaina was going to talk to the other judge (there are two) to see what they thought about the "off course" and if they would just ignore it or not. I don't mind either way, and do know that Alaina had judged our first tests and ignored the off course (kinda love online shows, haha). I don't remember the exact percentages, and I don't have the paperwork in front of me, so we will just leave it a mystery until we get both of my marks back. The show itself closes August 24th, so I won't post our results and test scores until then, but I wanted to still share what we were up to and the videos.

A blurry picture, bc my phone lens was full of condensation being in
my breeches pocket, ahha.
Of course, by the time I got home, part of me was already dissecting the video and how X, Y, Z wasn't perfect and WHY WONT HER TAIL FUCKING STOP and why did I ride my corner like that?

Does anyone else feel those feelings?

I made myself watch the video and then watch our previous dressage test from just a few short weeks ago, and holy shit... this mare has started to get her shit together. Sometimes we put puzzle pieces together and lose a few others, but we'll get there. It's a work in progress and I'm so pleased that we were able to put a nice test down. There are still a few things I want to improve on (as always), and we'll get there... slowly but surely, and together.


  1. I think Annie is doing very well. She’s still young and learning. It all takes time. Thought you both looked very nice in the video.

  2. there is a lot to like in that test - congrats! i know it's felt like a long slow journey, but your work IS paying off! also yea she looks super sharp in the white boots ;)

    1. Thank you Emma <3 It's a hard, long road sometimes

  3. You have worked so hard and it is paying off. She looks so much better in her canter in the second video. I noticed in the first one that she really likes to throw her haunches to the inside when she canters and then she switches. When you had her straighter in the second test it was much better. I noticed becasue Carmen used to really do that on the right lead canter and it was a hot mess. With me insisting on straightness (even to the point of almost being counter bent) she improved. She still does it but it's related to tension not stregnth. it will come.

    1. Thank you, Teresa.

      Yes, the inside haunches have been mentioned before. I need to get better control of her hind end to access it.

    2. It’s har$ because it’s a strength issue too so they need to be stronger to be straight bu5 can’t get stronger until they are straight. Sigh. Riding is hard