Monday, May 13, 2024


 So that didn't go the way I'd planned.

"You got me up at 5am, what did you expect?"

I've posted videos, there's plenty of evidence that Theo has a perfectly acceptable change.  But in recent rides, we've been having some extra drama.  That drama means he's out of balance and the change is kind of a mess.  It started when I started really pumping up the canter to counteract that drop change from left to right.  Sometimes he boils over and jumps about before the change.  He's also started to figure out the test for Third 1 and is anticipating the change in the 10m circle.  That means he's starting to pop up while we're still on the circle.  By the time I am at the right spot in the arena to change, he's usually thrown at least one jump or buck which means his balance is out of whack.

Put me under pressure in a show ring and the wheels come off of our changes pretty significantly.  It's frustrating because everyone assumes I entered Third without a real change.  No, I had a change, we just misplaced it this week and I had to enter this show over a month ago.  Some shows are just not great timing and this show was one of those.   I certainly wouldn't have entered if I thought I was going to get a 3 on a movement that defines the level.  Even my right to left change that is usually lovely was described as 'muddled' due to a couple strides of anticipation drama.  The rest of the test couldn't compensate for that much of a mess.  I got a low 58 and a high 57.  No comments suggesting I shouldn't be at the level but definitely comments on needing a more confirmed change.


Love, love, love his show halter from Dark Jewel Designs on Etsy

I'd feel worse but we still got two red ribbons with those scores.  In one class no one broke 60.  Third 1 is cruel because it's such a big move up.  I can cover a blooper in a shoulder in or half passe and save the score.  Flying change?  Nowhere to hide and you need to nail it in one stride.  It's like when I was jumping and I'd know I'd botched a distance four strides out.  I know I've screwed it up as I leave the circle and he's so busy bouncing that he's down on his shoulders.  He can't change clean from down there.

It's a good time for me to drop back to Second 3 and focus on my test riding.  This past show was intended to get the temperature of our Third level prep and we are below the standard.  So we'll take the judge's comments and drop back to get our confidence back up.  Trainer Z is chomping to get me back out there at Third (she couldn't coach for this show which seriously hindered my warm up, not gonna lie) since we're really quite close.  Straighten up this last minute drama and we're right there.  It wasn't just the scores for the changes, it was the effect it had on my collectives.  Judges don't like it when you enter a test where you can't complete the movements and my submission scores took a hit with his drama.  Theo hasn't gotten a 5.5 for submission in a long, long time.

What I saw at 5am when I went to get him

I'm slightly disappointed but mostly okay since I was able to safely ride the test and he never got ugly.  It really does seem to come from a place of anticipation.  We got a 6.5 on his second medium walk, 7s for both of his reinbacks, and 6.5 for his walk pirouettes which were challenges before.  6.5 for his extended trot in one test.  Lots and lots of 6s and 6.5s.  I got a 7 for my rider position on my second test which was definitely a balm.  I think Trainer Z summed it up best with 'that sounds like they don't think you're not ready, they just want you to get your shit together'.  Fair.

It really did hurt to hear spectators questioning whether or not I actually had a change after my tests.  We do, I promise, and its a really cute change.  Just not this weekend.

Next show is three weeks away and we'll be going for our qualifying scores at Second 3 so we can go to regionals and do our freestyle.  I also have a clinic in two weeks so Pam will have a chance to rip into our changes and help find the root cause.  It must be something I recently changed in my riding since he was doing fine.  If there's something I'm doing, Pam will let me know.  In the meantime, we'll just practice that shoulder in on the quarter line for my freestyle.  

And spectators, give competitors the benefit of the doubt.  Horses live to keep us humble and Theo certainly kept me humble.

1 comment:

  1. I am so sorry about the spectator portion, that is just awful. No one deserves to hear that. I hate showing without my trainer, IDK if its the emotional support or not but I don't feel right warming up without her. Fingers crossed that it's a simple fix and y'all are right back at Third Level.