Friday, February 20, 2009

It's a long way to go to come second...

Sorry! An old family saying...
In truth we met or exceded all the goals I had prior to going to Gore for the South Island Champs. Both boys performed exceptionally well and travelled well. Des won the 5yo class, was just second in the first Level 2 test and won the challenge test on the second day. I had made the choice not to put studs in for the show, reasoning it wasn't that important a show and an unecessary cost. Des spent the first two days slipping and sliding all over the place but being honest with it, however but the third day he flipped me the metaphorical bird and wouldn't go forward. Made the test a little tricky to ride and when we made a couple of mistakes we ended up down the ranks in sixth place. This was enough to cost us the Championship title and even the reserve - although that was very close - we were just pipped on countback! Not the reason we went down to Gore anyway but it was hard for me not to be disappointed in not bringing the big ribbon home.
Gosh on the other hand coped well with the conditions. He went out every day and improved in some way. Three consistent, if not startling tests were enough for the Reserve Championship at Grand Prix level. This was well beyond my expectations going into the show - at this stage we are still after that happy experience in the ring - I need to get him comfortable with that intensity of work & questions before we ask what we are truly capable of.
I'm sorry there are no pictures - there was an official photographer there so I didn't get the slave to bring mine out which I should have done. Can you believe that after 3 days and 4 tests there were none of Des at all? None of the Inter II either - after that I lost interest in going over and searching for non-existant shots!
Gore and the Southland Dressage group put on an outstanding show, one I'd gladly travel to again. Now if we can just get them to work on the weather...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My new favourite photo

Definitely not perfect, but I love this one. From our Musical Freestyle at the Grand National.

Just had the most amazing weekend training on both the boys with Bill Noble. That man is genius and so are both my horses! Looking forward to the trip to Gore this week. Wish us happy travels and if you're there, do come up and say hi.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Grand National Show

And what a show! I think the Grand National Show has to be my favourite of the season. It is well organised, friendly with fantasti facilities and the glitz and glamour that is so often missing. The entertainment is outstanding and it is a great chance to mix and socialise with the 'showies' that we see so little of throughout the season.

The boys were awesome. I took Des along just to expose him to the atmosphere. He was entered in the showing classes - he doesn't need to do anymore Novice tests. It did take a class or two for him to get used to the distractions - we were indoors with a large public gallery and there were lights and flags and mirrors and stages. He is NOT a show horse but still managed to come home with a fistful of ribbons and a whole new legion of admirers. I was especially excited to get placed in the Rebecca Peters Memorial class. This is a kind of 'Supreme' for the Novice horses and in memory of a very special person who was a show rider and jockey and who died in a trackwork accident 18 months ago. Her mum was there to present the award.
In the Novice Saddle Hunter title class

The Rebecca Peters Memorial

First Year Under Saddle Hunter Hack

Gosh was there to compete in the Grand Prix and the GP Musical Freestyle or 'Kur'. He did some good work in the GP but some unexpected mistakes - for some reason he wasn't keen to piaffe in the ring, he decided not to change in the pirouette line, I completely missed the count in our twos and of course our ones are still a work in progress. He also unblanace in his extension, which is unusual for him. However his lateral work was brilliant - we nailed the zigzag, which has been quite a difficult movement to come to terms with. And as usual his passage drew much favourable attention.

Yesterday in the Kur we really had some fun. He was still fragile in the piaffe, we had even less success with the ones and the twos were swinging but some still absolutely brilliant work, especially the half passes, the pirouettes and the passage. We ended up with an overall score of 62% which I'm thrilled with. We were 4th out of 4 but the highest score was just 65% so we are all very close.

So from here it is just mileage and training on. I need to work out how to keep him relaxed in the piaffe in test situations, we need to continue to work on consolidating the changes and just generally work on our arena craft. Des is almost on cruise until after the National Champs when we will start to push on with his training.

Next stop: Gore on the 13th-15th February for the South Island Champs.