Friday, 4 November 2011

Dressage report!

I should be walking the dog but it's cold and rainy outside so instead I'm sitting here blogging (don't worry, said wimpy dog does not want to go out in the rain either so I'll take her out when this is done).

We did our Intro A and Prelim 1 tests last Sunday after a month of struggling with schooling. Hattie has not been right all month- not lame but in a bad mood. At first, I put it down to her being in season (which she is) but then I began to notice a reluctance to go forward when schooling. Hattie loves cantering and jumping and usually when she gets in her bad moods with dressaging, if I add a jump in to a test, she's happy and revved up. Even jumping and cantering weren't helping now with her just hollowing during canter transitions with hear head up in the air, ears back and really angry tail swishing, especially on the right rein. Usually I have to sit back and SLOW her down for jumping but this time, I am having to boot her on.

Last Saturday, when we were doing last minute schooling, I noticed the saddle slipping forward more than usual. I got off and looked at the saddle pad which had slipped back causing the thick binding to pinch in between the panel and her shoulder where the saddle had slide forward.

My Whippy has always slide forward a little but then stays put, this time was quite a bit forward so removed the saddle pad and pushed the saddle back into place. Hattie is not a fan of pads any ways so I gave up using it and will have to accept the fact that I will always have to scrub my panels to keep them clean.

Without the pad, the saddle stayed put a bit better and the next day we did our dressage show.

Considering the trouble we'd been having schooling, we actually did not do too badly at the show. For the intro A test, we scored 64% with quite a few marks of 7's (which mean "fairly good") and 6's ("satisfactory). The only low mark we got a 4 on one movement as Hattie broke into a canter when we were supposed to be trotting (now THAT was a surprise considering how NON forward she had been).

The camera was not working properly for the Intro test so my husband/groom was not able to film but he frantically snapped away and got some good shots of us performing.



20m circle at E (we got a 6 for this, note my calm expression)...




The start of our "change rein on a free walk on a long rein"...



Free walk on a long rein, we got a 7 for this. I like how shiny Hattie's butt was...



Our 20 circle which is done at a medium walk at C to X, then working trot from X to C (we got a 7 for this)...





Changing the rein at MXK in working trot (we got a 6 for this as Hattie got a bit strong on the forhand and lost her outline a little)...



Halt, immobility, salute (we got a 6 for this has Hattie drifted a bit to the right but our halt was fairly square)...



One thing I did notice while doing our test on the shredded rubber surface and warming up on the coated sand in the indoor arena, is that Hattie seemed a lot happier and forward. The surface which is down in the arena at my stable is soft wood chippings which I have been finding a bit slippery to walk on myself. It did come into my mind that maybe Hattie does not like it either due to being slippery, maybe she feels unsafe at faster speeds like cantering or jumping (she is fine at the trot)? I have a feeling that this may be a contributing factor with Hattie's moods lately.

Any ways 20 minutes later, we did our Prelim 1 test which started out good and forward until the judge accidently beeped her horn at us during our test. When the judge beeps you, it means you did something wrong in the test. In the Prelim 1 test, you do a half 20m circle at A to the right, a half 20m circle at X to the left, a half 20m circle at C to the left and finish it off with a half 20m circle at X to the right (simply put, a figure 8 across the whole ring). Just as I finished my figure 8, the judge beeped me so I went into walk and just looked around confused as I knew I had done nothing wrong.

After you finish the figure 8, you are supposed to change rein at KXM and then at M, ask for a working canter on the left rein. I just kept walking and just passed the turn at K when the judge finally decided to tell me that it was ok and to keep going...sigh...

Good thing we had practised this test many a time so although we overshot the turn at K, we still made it across the arena on the diagonal to M and got our left rein canter. Hattie was such a good horse for that. We got a 6 for that movement due to Hattie being "long in the outline". When we had practised this at home, we always made a good turn with Hattie working forward in a nice outline but because we had to rush it and compensate for the overshot turn, we lacked impulsion.

We got a mix of 5's, 6's and 7's (mostly 6's though), with a 5 for our right rein canter due to Hattie opening her mouth and being a bit stiff and another 5 for our halt as Hattie drifted AGAIN!

Gary managed to video out test...


There were quite a few competitors in both classes so I'm pleased with the 4th we got for the Intro test and the 5th for the Prelim 1 test.

Schooling this week has been the same with Hattie being in a bad mood so I got off yesterday and had a look to see what my saddle was doing besides sliding too far forward on her.

Standing her square and looking from the back, I could see that my saddle was dropping to the left a bit. Looking at the off side panel at the front, I could see the tilt to the left with the left panel coming very close to being "up and over" her withers!!! If it wasn't for Hattie's high withers, the saddle would be totally rolling over. The right side off her poor withers was taking the brunt of the saddle and me, no wonder she didn't want to go forward cantering and jumping. If you look at my photos and video too, you can see me tilting to the right, I've unconsciously leaning to the right to counteract the saddle falling to the left. I think too, that the saddle pad was also helping to cause the saddle to slip more which is why Hattie was happier when I took it off as the saddle was able to grip to her back better and stay put.

I still think as well, that Hattie prefers the non wood chipping footing of the show but it's tough luck really as I can't fork out ££££'s to get the surface changed at our arena at home!

With this new observation, I called my saddler so he'll be coming out to us. He said that it's probably due for a reflocking any ways as it has been fine all summer up until now.

Until then though, we have still have two shows and a side saddle lesson with Lili so I will experiment with temporary measures tomorrow to see what helps to keep my saddle level until my saddler comes out. I have the non slip grippy gel pad that I can try along with my special side saddle riser pad. If I pad up the left side of it, that should help keep the saddle from dropping too much until Roger can come out and adjust it.

Hopefully, as we have a clear round jumping show on Sunday on the arena surface that Hattie likes!!!

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