Sunday, May 6, 2012

Hossmoor: The Tale of the Tape

So this morning I went back and rewatched the tape of my 3rd level test from yesterday, along with the tape of me doing the same test and scoring 6+% higher last November. Watching them side by side confirmed what I thought before: Ringo looks BETTER now than he did then. This was a better test. He is much more cadenced and consistent in his tempo: in the November test, he quickened significantly in all the lateral work and got tense and stabby in the 10m circles, where yesterday he maintained a solid rhythm throughout his trot work.

As for the 'hollowness' that the judge dinged me on pretty much everywhere (and wrote a cutting little note about in the collective remarks), I honestly think he looks significantly more connected and through his back now than he did six months ago, where the judge was glowing about his throughness. The difference in the quality of his trot alone is a pretty strong indicator that we're moving in the right direction. There are a few moments where his underneck muscle comes out (which would indicate hollowness), but they are few and far between, where there were entire movements in the November test where he was resistant.

If I am critical of my riding, there were a few flaws. My elbows were sticking out through a lot of the trot work and my wrists are a little awkwardly cocked at times - maybe this is what the judge saw as being 'aggressive'? My sitting is following but at times I do look a little loose with my upper body - Ringo's trot has actually become a lot bigger and more expressive of late, and I have to up the quality of my sitting even more to keep up with him. Still, I never once smacked on his back or flopped around like a potato sack. The 5 on rider I received was unbelievably harsh, and not merited.

I've taken some super sketchy photos of the video to illustrate what I'm talking about (huge apologies to the unbelievably low quality/tentative legality of these pictures... I wouldn't normally do this, but I feel the need to vindicate myself):

 (Not hollow!)

 (I got a 6 on this movement with the comment "needs to reach out to bridle." Umm... what.)

 (OK, this is a real mistake - there is way too much angle in this shoulder in.)

 (Does this look like a leg yield? No. It is clearly a half pass, and not deserving of a 5.)

 (Towards the end of the movement. Haunches trail a hair, but still most definitely a half pass.)

 (How is this supposed to be hollow and unengaged, again??)

 (This was about the worst moment I could find in the trot: the underneck is showing and he's a little behind the vertical. However, the base of his neck is still filled out, his shoulders are still lifting, and his hind end is clearly engaged: look at that hind leg step! A horse that was truly hollow here would NOT be tracking up like that.)

 (Again, how does this look like a leg yield??? It is clearly a half pass, and not a shabby one at that.)

 (oh hey, still not a leg yield...)

 (Oh hey, STILL not a leg yield...)

 (NOT A LEG YIELD. Definitely a half pass!!)

 (Umm... why was this a 5? He's unbelievably square, relaxed out to the bridle, slightly in front of the vertical, and had excellent immobility. What.)

 (Ringo's bomb extended walk, which did, to the judge's credit, get a 7)

 (My 'hollow' canter... yeah. ok.)

 (Again... what is supposed to be wrong with this, again?)

 (Right after our beautiful, but admittedly slightly early, change, which got a 5 for being hollow. Again... WHAT.)

 (Ok, another admitted mistake here: his haunches came WAYY in during the extended canter, and it wasn't our best effort there. I would have happily accepted a lower score here if I thought the judging elsewhere was on mark.)

 (This is about as bad as I could find in the canter. Still, the way he's sitting on his hind end, lifting his shoulder, and stepping wayyy underneath himself with the inside hind makes a pretty difficult argument for him not being engaged.)

 (We got a 4 on this movement because he lost his balanced and took two quick steps over the centerline - it was, other than that mistake, the best extended trot I've ever felt on Ringo. I've had other tests where I've broken to canter over the centerline and still scored a 5 (this time when that happened in the first medium, I got a 3), so a 4 seems harsh for literally two steps of lesser quality trot that I recovered from nicely.)

 (NOT. HOLLOW.)

(My only other 7 of the test, besides my extended walk. At least we ended positively!)

So... I'm confused. And certainly will never ride for this judge. Ever. Again. Oh well; live and learn!

(Ray looking handsome and keeping an eye on the warmup)

11 comments:

Slbaldwin said...

Yeah those were for SURE half passes, not sure where the judge was looking during that.

You two looked great!! :)

Suzie said...

Do you miss eventing yet?

Katherine Erickson said...

Slbaldwin, thanks! Haha yeah, that was the comment I was the most confused by - especially since she was adamant about it enough to even mention it again in the collective marks...

Suzie, SO MUCH. At least there if a judge is totally whack, you have two more phases of objectively judged, adrenaline-filled fun afterwards to take your mind off it with!!

jenj said...

Yikes. From those stills, it definitely does not seem like you merited scores like that. I'm sorry the judge wasn't more fair.

Not that this is an excuse, but I also used to ride a paint with a black spot on the bottom of his neck and white on top. It makes them look somewhat inverted even when they're not. Of course, you'd hope that a judge would be able to see that... but who knows. Maybe she just didn't like Ringo's spots? I've had that happen before too - if it ain't solid, it doesn't belong in the dressage arena. Ugh.

Katherine Erickson said...

Thanks, Jenj. Yeah, I've often wondered whether his pattern doesn't do him any favors: in addition to his white neck, he also has a white patch right on top of his butt which sort of acts as a beacon whenever he's even remotely croup high. I hate pulling the 'color-biased judge' card, but since I've already had eventer bias (where the judge knew Ringo was an ex event horse and specifically wrote in the comments 'good attempt for an eventer' - talk about a backwards compliment!!)... I wouldn't be wildly surprised.

STB Eventer said...

Geez, poor judging stinks! :-( Just know that you ARE doing a good job and who cares what one bad judge thinks. You can file a complaint with the USDF I believe!!

jenj said...

Another thought on the spots - how would Ringo look with a square white pad? I know you have trouble with pads getting away from you, but more white on the back end might help make him look shorter through the topline and therefore more on his hind end. *I* know he's stepping through and all, but there are some strange optical illusions going on with his (admittedly adorable) spot pattern. Figuring out how to minimize that might be a bonus.

Checkmark115 said...

I have to say, that is some of the worst judging I've ever seen. Don't beat yourself up too much!

Katherine Erickson said...

jenj, you and I are on the same page! One of my first thoughts coming home was about the saddlery. I also have a grey velvet helmet a grey silk stock tie, so those things combined with a spotted horse and a weird saddle pad set up could easily be wayyyyy too much flare for the average conservative fuddy-duddy judge to handle. I loooove my attire and think it looks super snazzy and not over the top, but if it's going to get me off on the wrong foot with the judge then I'd rather show my personal style elsewhere. I never got these comments before I started using the half pad, so there might be some additional negative illusion that it causes. I think I am going to try experimenting with some other combinations at my next show.

jenj said...

Haha, I spent YEARS with nothing but short black square pads for dressage for the horse in my blogger pic. Any white up against his coat made him look a sick yellow, no matter how much shampoo and blueing I used on him! And his back was super-short, so a regular-sized square pad just ended up sitting halfway down his butt. That looked *ridiculous*.

Black everything is boring, boring, booooooring... but hot damn he looked sharp and screaming white in the arena. See what works best for Ringo to minimize the spot-illusions and have him look top-notch. He's a super-handsome boy and you're a lovely rider, but I think those of us with spotted ponies have to be a little more careful choosing tack and accessories. Let your horse be the bling, you can be boring and put in a killer test. ;)

Katherine Erickson said...

Yeah, those are great points. I'll have to save the ling for my next plain bay... ;)

Thanks, Checkmark - I'm feeling much better now but oh goodness was I mad at first!

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