Tuesday, July 26, 2011

GMHA Dressage Days: The Tests... Sort Of

So I had this super clever plan that I was going to make this beautiful Excel spreadsheet with all my tests from the weekend, complete with scores and comments. Well, I did indeed manage to do that, and even figured out how to transfer those into PDFs and then into JPEGs that I thought I could upload here.

And I could... but I couldn't get them so that when you clicked on them, they actually got any bigger! This left me with a bunch tiny, unreadable images on the screen. Not good. I spent thirty minutes of exhausted semi-comatose frustration at midnight last night trying to resize the images so that when you clicked on them, something happened (as it was they didn't do anything, even though most of the pictures on my site will open in full size on another page if you click on them). Grrr!! It's times like this that I wish I was less obtuse when it comes to computers... oh well.

Anyway, it was really interesting to study the tests a little more closely as I was entering them into the spreadsheet. I realized that Kiki's best test actually had a lot more range than I thought it did, with us getting a lot of pretty sketchy (and certainly justified) scores early on. On the other hand her last test, which I had been certain had been pretty cheaply judged at the time, actually had more consistently good marks than the first one! It just so happened, due to the placement of the coefficients, that it ended up on a lower final percentage.

I've never really thought about the actual breakdown, movement by movement, of my scores before, and it is both humbling and fascinating to see how much a single move or mistake can affect the final tally. It definitely ups my appreciation for the level of concentration and preparation required to really produce a top test!

It rained yesterday (hallelujah), but I still rode as I'm off to a Red Sox game tonight and didn't want them to have two days off (tough life, I know). I was hoping to just do something really brief and suppling to feel how the show treated them. Ringo was fabulous and feels better coming out of the show than he did coming into it - always a great feeling! Kiki on the other hand was as witchy as she has been in a long long time, even trying to ditch me at one point early on in the ride! I think it was the rain that was undoing her, which is a pretty poor excuse for a New England-based event horse. So her plan of "10 minutes of stretchy trot, maybe a loop of canter each way" quickly became a little more involved. Kiki!! Always keeping me on my toes, haha.

The countdown for Jimmy Wofford is ON!! I'm getting sooo excited, though the 7 hour drive to the clinic... maybe not so thrilling.


jenj said...

For a while I was taking dressage lessons with a dressage judge, and one of the things we did was sit down with the test and look at what each score was on and where the coefficients were. I knew I had to put in that little extra effort to ride the coefficient marks super-well, and I also knew where in the test I could get points back. For example, if the canter depart and the circle are both part of the same score, if you don't have a fantastic depart but you ride the circle extra carefully, you might get a point back - whereas if you flub the depart AND ride an egg-shaped circle, well, not so much. I'm not trying to say that you shouldn't give the entire test 110%, but if you have to pick and choose your battles, it's helpful to know which ones to fight!

Dressager said...

I agree with jenj. I always look at and ride a test movement by movement, but so as to not mess up the rest of the test, if you mess up on one movement, let it go and put all your attention on the next movement, then put all your attention on preparing for the next movement, and so on. Same way when I ride: I try to focus on every step, especially since we're working really big on straightness right now haha! Tests are wonderful teaching tools.

Katherine Erickson said...

you guys are both totally right. I'm a little embarrassed I'd never done it before (I always read through my comments, but have never really done a breakdown, movement by movement, of what I should try to focus on or how the test is weighted) but it's really fascinating!

jenj said...

Katherine, don't be embarrassed! I've been riding for, uh, like 20 years and had never looked at tests in that light either, until I took lessons with the dressage judge. It's just a totally different perspective!

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