Woke up this morning to snow on the ground and -2C temperatures so wasn't too hopeful about the dressage show on Sunday happening as when it snows here in England, EVERYTHING shuts down- a far cry from when I used to show in Canada during the winter in -20C temperatures!!
Since I hadn't heard anything from the show organizers yet about the show being cancelled, I decided to practise some of the "easier" movements (i.e. the free walk on a long rein from K to B then B to H) as the school was too snowy and slippery to do anything faster than a bit of trotting. Since all dressage movements are judged out of marks from 0 to 10, if we perfect the easier movements as best we can, that will help to scrape more marks into our score even if we cock up the harder ones.
Our schooling was better than the other day and I took Michelle's advice to "make it happen!" when asking something from Hattie. I get into a rut with nagging her with my leg, doing a wimpy tap with my crop and Hattie just tunes out. I've been trying to ask nicely, then "make it happen" the 2nd time if she doesn't listen. It was starting to work!
In the Prelim 1 test, you enter at A at working trot and proceed down the center line and track right at C. I've been taking Lili's advice about setting Hattie up as if we'd be turning left as C as this keeps her straight down the center line. We always lose marks for drifting so hopefully, the judge will now notice our straightness!
Then at A you do a have 20m circle to the right at A, half 20m circle to the left at X, half 20m circle to the left at C and finish off the figure 8 pattern with a half 20m circle at X to the right before rejoing the track at A.
This figure 8 pattern has been causing me grief as Hattie tends to get strung out and our circles, not to circular. We practised just walking the pattern to see what the heck I was doing, then I broke it down into just two 20m circles, one at A and one at C then joined them up. Then did the same thing but trotting instead of walking. It helps me if I just forget the pattern being a figure 8 and just think that I'm essentially riding just two 20m circles and then my body kicks in somehow and I am able to ride "inside leg to outside hand" better (even on the right rein!!) and Hattie keeps the bend nicely and working across the back with a light contact.
Heck, I found if I rode the whole darn test as a "circle", we both went better. Maybe thinking "circle" is the way to go for us.
I still have the inside school booked for tomorrow at the show venue so can practice our canters and all our transitions better there are nice dry surface but another movement which also causes me grief in the Prelim 1 test is the "free walk on a long rein from K to B, B to H" (which we always get marked down due to Hattie going into plod mode) and then at H picking up the medium walk before asking from a working trot at C.
Usually what happens when we are switching from our free walk to medium walk at H, Hattie gets excited as she knows the trot is coming up, head up in the air, ears forward and then goes on the forehand in trot at C before I can correct her as we are going round the corner after C.
Today, I worked on getting her to walk more forward in the free walk by tapping FIRMLY with my left leg and reminder taps with my "right leg"- the schooling whip as well as using my voice to ask her to "walk on" (can't say this too loudly in the test however!). If I get her walking forward in the free walk, then she already has the impulsion when we go to "medium walk" at H. I also had to think "circle" at H as well to get her thinking and bending to the inside instead of her concentrating about how she gets to "go fast" at C.
It was hard co-ordinating this all but we got it eventually and then we FINALLY got a nice trot at C without wappiness and without me having to nag her.
After all this hard work, the text message came through on my phone from Leicester Dressage letting everyone know that they were cancelling the show on Sunday due to the darn weather. Foiled again by this wintery weather!
At least they are putting out entries through to next months show so I'm going to have to learn Prelim 7 for next month's Leicester Dressage show. Our practise with the Prelim 1 test hasn't been in vain however, as the other riding club, Hinckley Dressage, is running the Prelim 1 test at their show later on this month so I now have a couple more weeks to perfect it.
I took a photo of my winter riding boots by HorZe that I bought in November from Your Horse Live for a bargain £20. I needed some new winter boots as I couldn't stand another winter of having my toes frozen off in rubber riding boots. I was just going to use them for astride riding and stable work as I didn't think the foot part would fit into a side saddle stirrup and thought they would be too bulky for side saddle riding.
How wrong I was! they are so warm, comfy and SOFT for aside riding! the ankles aren't bulky and I am able to point my right toe down easily. The legs on the boots aren't too bulky so I can get my right leg on the safe. I highly recommend them!