Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Piper's First USDF Scores

Piper finally posted his first USDF Training Level scores. A 3 day weekend at Mystic Valley Hunt Club in Connecticut really threw Piper into the deep end of the pool, forcing him to sink or swim. And swim, he did !

MVHC ran with 3 rings. Rings 2 and 3 had the judges sitting in pretty little gazebos. Ring 1 had the judges sitting in simple functional booths.

We missed Piper's first scheduled class of the day due to a pulled shoe. But we were back in action in time for his second class.... In Ring 1. He warmed up fine on the grass next to the ring and was calm. But when we started our circuit around the arena before the bell, he paniced, spun, did little rears, backed up, and was soon eliminated. I unmounted, walked him past the judge, apologised, left the area, remounted, and went to work in the big crowded warm up area.... which happens to also have a lovely little gazebo at "C".

Our last ride of the day was in Ring 3, and we got through it. Amazing. And so the weekend was well underway.

We did 3 more rides on Saturday, one in each ring, and 3 more on Sunday. While Rings 2 & 3 never caused him to worry, Ring 1 was still posing a challenge. Thanks to Friday and Saturday evening open ring schooling sessions, Piper came to grips with the setup. Or so we thought. However, the last ride of the weekend was in Ring 1 and he again refused to go near the judge at C during the warmup before the bell. But we got through the test, none-the-less, and that was progress.

Over the 3 days, Piper completed 7 tests. We have sheets from 5 different judges with individual sheet scores ranging from 56.000% to 68.929%. Final USDF scores (some of which are averaged between 2 judges) are posted here on Fox Village.

So, overall, a good start, but now one thing is obvious. Piper needs to learn that when the rider says, "Do this now", the only right response is to say, "Yes, Mamam! Right away!".

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Heat Wave

Few words put shivers down my back as fast as "Heat Wave". I'm not a big fan of extreme heat. And that, of course, is exactly what New England is experiencing right now. Temperatures have been pushing right up against the 100 degree Fahrenheit mark for 3 days running. Humidity has been in the "oppressive" range.

All of our horses have been outside during the day, knowing enough to seek shelter from the sun at the hottest hours. Some of them instinctively stand with their tails to the wind when a slight breeze kicks up. Some stay under the trees. Some prefer the turnout sheds. Meanwhile, the rider has been hiding indoors as much as possible, sitting in the only air-conditioned room in the house... My office.

Piper's dressage training has been put on hold... But will resume when the weather becomes kinder to horse & rider. Meanwhile, I hear the promise of thunder rumbling in the distance. Maybe we will get some relief tonight!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Protecting Dressage Horses

Every so often, I hear some people imply that dressage horses should be "wrapped in wool", kept in the stable 24 hours a day except when being trained, never turned out, and protected from the "dangers" of trail riding.

For our own horses, these are simply not options. And this means that, spooky & timid as he can be at times, Piper goes trail riding.

This weekend, after a working session in a very noisy indoor arena being pummeled by strong winds, we ventured out alone onto the trails. Needless to say, the trees were whipping & crackling and things were scary from his perspective. After a fairly good spook, my husband Georg climbed into the saddle and I jumped onto our Honda ATV....

.... Piper followed me & the ATV around on the trails, happy to see his bright red four wheeled big brother leading the way. A comical sight, no doubt, but yet another opportunity for Piper to grow and be more than just a dressage horse. He was a good boy.