Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hoof Care

Preparing for the USDF Championships is not just about dressage training.   It also involves the total overall care of the horse.

Jeddien, like so many women, has her nails (or hooves) done on a regular basis by her farrier, Adam Pearson .   Adam has been working with Jeddien and Piper Warrior since we all moved to the USA together in 2005.   Jeddien, who earns fame wherever she lives as being a true grumpy puss, puts up with Adam much better than she puts up with most people.   Apparently, they have an understanding.   The fact that Adam trains and competes with oxen much bigger and grumpier than Jeddien, may have some influence in that.

Nonetheless, every 6 to 8 weeks, and as otherwise needed, Adam does Jeddien's nails, comments on her hair, asks about her latest competitions, and provides her with the attention deserved of a true Dressage Queen.


Friday, August 21, 2009

World Record Kur & Tiny Triumphs at Home

Hickstead England.   July 2009.   A standing ovation was earned by Edward Gal of the Netherlands riding KWPN Dutch Warmblood stallion Totilas, a son of Gribaldi, for their technically correct and artistically stunning Grand Prix Kur.   The full scoring for the Top 6 in the CDI5* EXQUIS World Dressage Masters Grand Prix Freestyle can be seen on this Hickstead results website. 2nd & 3rd places earned remarkable scores over 80% as well.

Meanwhile, Back on the Farm...

Jeddien is going to the USDF Region 8 Championships in 3 weeks.   In our training sessions leading up to this, we have been working on our flying changes.   We earn 7's or 6's to the left, but often get 4's or 5's to the right.   At an earlier show this season, in an attempt to get a cleaner change to the right, I bent Jeddien to the right.   The judge, Bill Warren, spotted this and commented straightness was needed.   True.

So we've been working on this.   Returning to the pre-requisites for flying changes, we have been working on counter canter, simple changes, snappy transitions, uphill canter with "jump", and straightness.   When we returned to the changes, they were cleaner.   In fact, I have found that the more efficient I am with the prep and aids, the better Jeddien's response.   Over preparing just gets her worried.   And so with that, she is now producing "Fours" and "Threes".   In other words, flying changes every 4 and 3 strides.

And this from an 18 year old "big-boned" mare whose X-rays at age 5 confirmed a diagnosis of OCD in her left hock and who peaked at every level of dressage competition from Novice thru Advanced Medium, USA First thru Third, and then amazed everyone by moving on.   Now, she is at Fourth Level in the USA and Prix Saint Georges no longer looks like a distant dream.

Every day is a tiny triumph with Jeddien.

And Now for the Weather....

So, after a completely washed out June & July, August has brought stifling heat & humidity.   Hurricane Bill will be glancing by this weekend, and then hopefully the weather will relent a bit.   Three weeks to go to the Championships.   It would be nice to be able to train without dripping sweat *before* getting into the saddle.

Bring on Autumn!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Riding for Specific Judges

With more and more competition experience, dressage riders eventually start to encounter the same judges over and over.   In the UK, this was certainly very true, as the judges don't often travel far to judge the 1 or 2 classes they would judge at a given show.   In the USA, however, there are several big differences.
  • First, judges are paid big bucks to do their job, plus hotel, airfare, and other expenses in the USA. In the UK, this is not the case.... yet.   Judging is more about "giving back to the sport".
  • In the USA, judges usually work a long day, judging ALL of the classes in a given arena, some of which will only have 1 or 2 riders in them.   UK judges don't often do that.   Instead, they usually judge 1 class, but that 1 class might be huge and run all day!
  • Show managers in the USA publish the names of the judges for their shows well in advance of Opening Entry Day.   In the UK, the rider often finds out who is judging when they see the scoreboard.
  • And finally, in the USA, show managers work hard to try to bring in different judges than those being used at other local shows.
However, even with these differences, American dressage competitors will eventually run into the same judges again & again.   What I find interesting is that some competitors decide which competitions to enter based on who will be judging.   Preference would be for a judge from whom they once got a good score.   Or maybe a judge who may be known as being more "generous".   Or someone who prefers their horse's breed.

Amazing to me, some riders will even adjust their riding based on who's judging.   Now, this is where I am a complete novice!   I have yet to establish a mental database of how to ride for a specific judge....   other than my husband!

Georg's excellent dressage eye was developed by attending hours of clinics and lessons with Robert Pickles (Fellow of the British Horse Society and my UK Dressage Coach), Christine Stuckleberger of Switzerland, and Jan Nivelle of Germany.   He is my top critic, keeps me honest, and demands to see consistent and correct dressage work.

No, I do not change my tests depending on who is sitting at "C".   Or another position, for that matter!   Geez, I wouldn't even know where to start.   At the end of each test, Georg gives me a score and a bit of critique.   And that, for me, is the feedback which means the most.