Wednesday, May 20, 2015

WindRidge HT- Dressage and Stadium Recap

FENCE HT- pc Liz Crawley Photography
The weekend of May 9-10 was WindRidge Horse Trials. I took Chimi for our 2nd outing this season and our 2nd Beginner Novice. Coming off of a successful show at FENCE a couple of weeks ago I was looking to improve our Dressage and have an equally successful Stadium and Cross Country ride.

Saturday morning rolls around and the Chiminator and I have pretty much all morning to braid and get ready. My Dressage time was at 2:06 and Stadium at 3:48. Since I was driving back and forth from home and to the show (a total of 45 minute drive one way) I wanted to get there in plenty of time for Chimi to settle in before Dressage. I left around 10:30 and when I got to the show grounds my neighbors and other fellow pony club friends were all parked around the perfect shade tree and a spot was open just for me! It seriously could not of been a more perfect spot for the day! After saying hello, checking in with the show grounds, and figuring out my course of action for the day I started to get ready for Dressage.
FENCE HT- pc Liz Crawley Photography

At WindRidge the warm up is conveniently located in the same space as the Dressage arena so you just walk through the dividing poles to get to the Dressage test area. Since Chimi's main issue at FENCE was the walk over to the covered from warm up and then dealing with new surroundings, I felt like this would be a better place for Chimi to behave in Dressage and thusly improve our dressage from FENCE. Warm up was great, I just put him through his paces and made sure he was listening, talked with my friend Jamie who was riding right before me all weekend, and then we watched her go before heading in to the ring.
One of the few decent moments in our Dressage test at FENCE- pc Liz Crawley

I made sure Chimi got a good look at the Dressage judge and scribe sitting peacefully in their hut and then trotted Chimi around the ring before they rang the bell. Overall our dressage test was much improved over FENCE where I felt like I was riding a ticking time bomb. This time I only felt like I was riding the nervous squirrel because I could feel him looking around. Overall our test was very positive and definitely looked better than it felt. We only had a few major bobbles like our first 20 meter circle when Chimi decided to do his best impression of a camel, our terrible trot transition from the right lead canter because Chimi wanted to canter forever, and the lack of a free walk. But those are all things that will improve with time. We ended up scoring a 30.5 (how???) and sat in 4th place going into stadium
FENCE HT- pc Liz Crawley

Stadium at WindRidge is a bit of a throw back to the "old days" where grass was king. Heck Badminton STILL uses a grass arena for Dressage and the final Show Jumping day! The flattest area big enough for a stadium course is in this "bowl" which creates a bit of a cross country feel with jumps that fall down. I really do like the stadium courses at WindRidge because it makes you ride smart and plan your ride. Rails are common, which truthfully is kinda nice at the lower levels because BN and Novice tend to be about how well you do in Dressage with little movement from XC and show jumping, so by adding a terrain element to a stadium course it does make for a decent enough shake up. From watching a couple of the Novice horses go jumps 3 and 4 seemed like the boogie fences that most of the rails that fell happened there. The approach to jump 3 was downhill to a very upright vertical and a dip backup to jumping uphill out over an oxer at 4. You really had to have your horse listening to you and had to keep them from getting to flat and heavy on their forehand to jump 3 and with the the dip back up to an oxer you had to keep the hind end engaged or they would pull the back rail of jump 4.
Last jump at FENCE- Chimi wanted to make sure he wasn't touching those rails! pc  Liz Crawley

Since Dressage hadn't been that long ago and the day was fairly hot (though thankfully there was a nice breeze!) I didn't have to do to much flat work to get Chimi ready for jumping. I ended up only jumping each jump twice and felt ready to jump around the course. Chimi was feeling strong but very confident and was looking towards each jump I pointed him at. They ended up taking any and everyone when you were ready so I found the guy with the clipboard and told him I was ready and he said great- you're 3rd in line. That was perfect because I could watch a few rounds to solidify the course in my head. 4 minutes later we were trotted into the arena and did sort of a serpentine-esk shape around the course so Chimi could see what we were about to jump. He felt great and we picked up our right lead canter to the first jump and Chimi sailed over the oxer. He continue to sail through my half halts on landing and instead of making the very reasonable turn before jump 10 Chimi gleefully cantered past 10 and I had to almost bring him to a walk just to get him to listen to me (this is probably the reason we ended up with 1 time fault) After sort of wrestling him back to me we found our way towards jump 2 and had a lovely left turn along the rail towards jump 3- he felt soft, responsive, and lovely until he saw the jump crew sitting in chairs in the shade and decided to have a meltdown. His head shot into the air as he leaped around like a yak and somehow I was able to somewhat steer him towards a straightish approach to jump 3 but he was so hollow in his back and was probably still looking at the jump crew now behind him that he pulled the top rail to the very vertical downhill jump- bugger. Somehow after landing from 3 Chimi sorted his brain out and we had a lovely powerful jump over 4 and ended up clean the rest of the course. I was really happy with the majority of the course and know that the rail we had was a total green rail and had nothing to do with the actual jump- just the mental capacity of the silly creature.

With our rail and time fault we slipped back to 5th place going into XC. If we had jumped clear we would of been in 2nd. Rails happen and I was so happy with how our day had gone that I didn't mind being in 5th- there is still XC to go before the show is over!!!

**** All pictures in this post are the professional pictures taken at FENCE since I got nada. Thanks to Liz Crawley Photography for being there!!!****

1 comment:

  1. congrats on a solid dressage and stadium - esp in feeling like both were improvements from FENCE!

    also i like your point about a stadium round that wreaks a little havok for the lower levels. my event this past weekend had stadium on grass too, and it was similarly influential. so the leaderboard was significantly shaken up after stadium, and i was able to move up even with a rail. definitely an advantage for teams who aren't as good at dressage!