Friday, May 21, 2010

Woodside Dressage Day 1

Ringo and I are now officially DQs!! Well, maybe not quite yet; we've now definitely talked the talk, but haven't quite yet walked the walk.

Today was the first day of the Woodside Dressage show, which is apparently a big deal in the California Dressage circuit. I wouldn't really know, having nothing to compare to, but I can say with confidence that it was the first time in warmup that I had to dodge people doing tempis and canter pirouettes (at least intentional ones!!). The other ring for my warmup was doing an I-2 class while I was getting ready, so I was definitely surrounded by some awesome horses and riders! Ringo came out a bit with his eyes on stalks, as I knew he would, but actually settled in pretty darn well. We warmed up for a LOOOONG time, because it turned out my ring was running late and the steward gave me the wrong information about how many I had to go, such that I picked him up to go in the ring about 3 times before it was actually time. Given that, I was really proud of how well both Ringo and I coped. I had a few moments of nerves, but in general kept a lid on it, and Ringo followed suit brilliantly.

The test, for a first attempt, went pretty well. Ringo was very spooked by the flowers at the letters at first, and so was a bit against the bridle in our opening trotwork, but settled in very well. I saved the first medium trot from a break but we still had a fairly serious bobble in it, and then the second medium trot was AMAZING right until I decided to wait one stride too many to half halt, and we broke to canter (Judge's comment: "good attempt"). It was pretty amusing, because I had literally been thinking to myself, "should I half halt? He feels so good! Do I need to?" right at the moment he broke. I guess that answered my question! The halt reinback was a bit jagged, but our second attempt at the shoulder in - half circles - half pass after that was much improved. The walk went really well, scoring straight 7s - good man Ringo! I was pleased with the canter in general but it all needs more collection, which hurt us in every score. Still, the medium canters were pretty awesome and I thought I did a better and better job getting him under control. Coming out of the ring, my hopes were pretty up that I'd received a qualifying score (60%), despite our little bobbles.

So, I was a bit disappointed when I got my sheet back with a 57.6%. We got, in my opinion, pretty cheaply scored on the flying changes, which had a double coefficient and so doubly hurt us. Other than that, I couldn't really find much fault with the judge's comments; I just wish she'd been a bit more generous for the mistakes that we recovered from within the movement. Her collective comments, especially, were spot on, so I couldn't really find much to complain about (except wishing that the number was somehow higher!). I learned afterward that my judge today, Linda Zang, was one of the judges at the 2008 Olympics in Hong Kong, and is widely known as one of the toughest judges in California. I still wish I'd done better, but it was good to know that at least I was being judged by someone whose standards are very, very high.

Numbers and scores aside, though, I couldn't be more thrilled with Ringo. All the mistakes that happened were my error, not his; he was amazing, and remained absolutely rideable and with me the entire time, even I knew there were moments when he wanted to spook or get tense. It's hard to believe that just a few months ago he was rearing and spinning in the arena. We've definitely come a long, long way in our partnership. Now I've just got to show him off a bit better!

The awesome thing about pure dressage is that I've got two more chances at improving this weekend alone, so I can go back and try to improve while the feeling of today's test is still fresh in my brain. Here's to an even better test tomorrow!

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