Sunday, March 30, 2008

Baby Boomer Dreams - Dandy's Story - Dressage The Ride

Part 1

Did I practice those 20 meter circles before I went into the ring. Heck no, Tom said not to worry. Just ride a circle, you'll be fine. Through my brain ran the following debate "A circle........any circle, I'm a perfectionist here. They called for a 20 meter circle and that's what I'm supposed to ride so that is what I want to ride. Not just any old circle, it's supposed to be 20 meters. How am I going to figure out how big a 20 meter circle is before I head into the ring? " Over and over in my head it played. I was plagued by that 20 meter circle, haunted even.

Did I learn it before I went into the ring? Absolutely not! Tom couldn't be bothered with it and I sure couldn't do it without his help. It never dawned on me that maybe looking around I might see others working on 20 meter circles and frankly I don't know if they were. I was too busy focused on me and more horse to have a clue what was happening around me.

They called me up to be on deck and I still had no clue about those stinking 20 meter circles. To say I was a wreck as I went into the arena would be a gross understatement. I had made half a dozen trips to the bathroom. Had washed my armpits at least twice and put cold towels on my face. I was never so unprepared for anything in my life. Even my first child I felt better equipped to handle than this darn dressage test and I didn't know how to fold a diaper when I had that first kid!

Despite my lack of confidence, Dandy and I rode into the arena anyway. Stopping just outside the entry through the rails, we waited for Tom to begin reading the test. His voice boomed out "working trot to X" and we were off. Dandy moved off easily and sat down on his butt at the halt. So far so good.

I tried to salute like I knew what I was doing but I felt really foolish. I'm pretty sure I was awkward and unconvincing but that's ok, I didn't fall off my horse. At this point, I'm thinking that's a good thing.

At least one good thing about the way I ride, once I start I focus on the moment. I don't worry about what's ahead or what just happened. I ride with my mind on my horse. Even as concerned as I was about this ride, I was still able to ride just that way.

Tom's voice boomed again "Proceed to C Working Trot" and I pushed Dandy forward feeling confident at least in the trot. But then Dandy spotted the judge's table. The horse knew that thing was out of place. He worked in this arena every day, after all. That "thing" did NOT belong and Dandy was convinced it was going to eat him. There was no way he was getting near it. I'm sure every warmblood owner on the grounds heard the horse snorting as he pushed through my leg avoiding that table.

"Track Left to E " followed me with Tom's voice. At least the Arabian horse took a left turn through my leg so we was headed where we needed to be. We were moving away from the dreaded table. My horse quit snorting about half way through the corner and was beginning to relax. The trot felt pretty good considering the circumstances. There might be hope we didn't look totally ridiculous.

Then I heard the dreaded "Circle left 20 meters" and I put my horse into what was supposed to be a circle. The whole time my mind was racing about how big that circle should be. I looked around trying to get some kind of visual frame reference that might be right and adjusted our line of travel. It wasn't good. My first circle was definitely not round. Up until then, I don't know that I had ever ridden such a lopsided circle but it only got worse from there.

The left canter lead was ok. The horse popped up more than usual in the transition but considering what a wreck I was over that darn trotting circle, I'm amazed the horse even got the correct lead. Moving on into the circle at the canter wasn't good because Dandy felt threatened by that table up there with the judges as soon as it came into his view. At the canter that table definitely seemed closer to him. He shied a couple of strides and another lopsided circle was behind us.

The transition down into the working trot went better than expected. It was actually pretty darn nice for as early in his training as it was. But trotting around the corner into that darn table again was just NOT good. You'd think the more times we saw that thing the better it would be but that just wasn't the case. Dandy wasn't buying that table belonged anywhere near him.

Our breakdown to the walk at C may have been closer to X than C. There was no way Dandy wasn't going to get any closer to that table than he had. His bulging ribcage pushing through my leg was so frustrating. What he needed was about twenty passes back and forth across the front of that thing to get over his fear but that wasn't in the test.

AND the horse couldn't just shy at the table. No, he had to snort loudly each time he got anywhere close. It echoed through that metal roofed arena like it was the Grand Canyon. If I hadn't been so uptight over my lack of preparation, I might have laughed at his antics.

We made a weird line from the centerline to find H due to that table shy. Then turned across to do the free walk. The horse was NOT going to drop his head down and stretch when he still could see that pesky table out of the corner of his eye. More snorting and somewhere now I heard giggling, the ultimate humiliation.Those warmblood riders were sure getting their laughs. I wasn't amused. I was mortified. Poor Dandy could care less he was too busy worrying about trolls.

From there on out the ride went about the same. The only exception was each circle got uglier and uglier. I was trying to find a way to use the letters as visual aids but it just didn't work when I had no frame of reference to start. Dandy was actually soft except for any proximity to the trolls sitting there with the judge.

My very last circle was the all time worst. I think it looked more like a big boulder with broken off chunks. That's about as close to round as it got. I knew I had really blown it. But I don't know that at this point I really cared. I was glad to see that working trot coming up. The sooner I could get through that silly salute and get my butt out of the arena, the happier I would be.

The horse had done really well considering how green he was. The stuff with the troll was understandable for a young horse. And remembering his big terror back in that arena, I was grateful the horse had just bulged his shoulder or ribcage and swerved away instead of breaking gait and running off or dumping me. His trots were fluid and he got both leads correct. What more could I ask?

Looking back at that ride, it was a toss up which one of us screwed up the worst. The horse couldn't cope with the table and I couldn't cope with the 20 meter part of the circles. I figured we were even. But as for Tom, I wasn't ever going to let him do this to me again.

In case you're wondering. I did ride another test. It went about the same. Dandy didn't shy quite as badly and my circles were somewhat better but still not round.

If anyone is interested I scores a 48 on the first test and a 55 on the second. I overheard seasoned riders saying that this was a new judge and she was really, really tough. Most of them hadn't scored any higher. And I learned later I had the highest individual component scores of the day on the far end of the arena away from the table. Of course my circles for both trot, canter, were low but the rest was really good.

I remember her comments "Your circles are not round." DUH!!! Then she said something about beautiful a mover my horse was at both the trot and canter. But the most important comment of all. This horse shows great potential for dressage. Keep up the good work.

Just for the record to this day I do not know how big a 20 meter circle is!

To be continued.........

After the Ride

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  1. "a big boulder" Ha ha! Sorry. You know it makes me (and other people) feel better to hear about all your scary times, and yet you've still accomplished so much! And Dandy is a good boy to not actually spook.

  2. This series is giving me a great laugh! I have my first dressage show in two weeks. I'm sure our experiences will be similar!

  3. L, I know a big boulder is nowhere near a circle. As for Dandy, to me, that was a spook but not nearly as ugly as it could have been.

    kim, I'm glad that it's making you laugh. Now that I have some distance from it it's kinda funny to me too. I wish you luck in your first show. I'll bet you know how big a 20 meter circle is. I wish someone would teach me! lol

  4. I loved the stories and a 55% is really not a bad score so be proud of that one! We can just ignore the 48%, that one doesn't really count anyway. And I am sure you don't really care but the width of a dressage arena is 20 meters so you have to touch the ring at both E and B and just make it round.

    I know your were terrified but I think it is great you steped outside your comfort zone. I wish more people were willing to try new things in the horse world.

  5. Your Arabian boy is not the only one who spooks at judges. My Dutch Warmblood all 17.2 hands of him, was the spookiest horse at shows. We would actually have one of us sit in the judges chair between classes(if we could),and take him past it a few times. Sometimes it worked sometimes not. You had good comments from the judge and sounds like you did pretty well. I hope you never show with this trainer again, he was very wrong to put you in a situation like that where you weren't prepared. I let a trainer badger me into a show I wasn't prepared for (just once) and it was a disaster, we looked ridiculous and rode over the jumps awful, I've never gone to another show without being prepared for it, I really don't like that feeling.

  6. LOL MiKael good job, at least you didnt have to stop in the middle of the test because you were disorientated which is what I did because this arena was bigger than what I had practiced in and bigger than a standard sized arena. I had to do a serpentine thing from one side of the arena to the other to change direction kinda like an S and got all bent out of shape and ended up doing one loop too many ahd still heading in the same direction instead of it being the transition to having me heading in the opposite direction to do the second half in reverse LOL (if that makes sense!!!)

    In my last comment I said that the arena is normallly 40mx60m so a 20m circle would be from the outside edge to the middle of the arena, making a nice pretty circle while doing so LOL. The letters are all 20m apart which is also another good indicator and we used to have a saying that put the letters in the correct order you know like when you dont know how to spell something you make up a little song or chant which uses the first letters of each. I must see if I can find it somewhere.

    Great on the results, I was the last one in that day and the judge was running really really late so that made mine even worse LOL, can't remember what my score was tho but it was BAD LOL. I was chewing the inside of my cheek all the time and the judge thought I was talking to my horse so I got docked points on that too LOL.

  7. ok here is one that says a standard arena is 20m x 40m and gives you the layout of the letters, I will delve more into it and see if I can find that saying we had.

    Guess the size of the arena can vary LOL but it would have been really helpful for ou if he had just told you that.

    Here is another one with more detail. I know it doesnt help you now but it may help one of yur avid readers LOL.

    Man I am looking forward to seeing how you got your revente.

  9. Okay okay tis is my last post on this, should have done it all in one I know LOL.

    Here is another helpful site

  10. Okay I lied here is another on the Rhymes thing ..... Okay I promise I will stop now LOL.

    Duuuuhhhhh!!!! if you want to just delete these all I can put them all into one post LOL

  12. When I started doing dressage I didn't know how big a 20 meter circle was. Arab people ride all kinds of circles, we just don't measure them. :) But my trainers have made me ride so many of them during lessons that I think I could ride one in an open field. You just get the hang of how big it should be when you have someone telling you "too big", "too small", "flat on that side" or whatever.

    I still have problems with the 10 and 8 meter circles at shows. I always tend to make them a bit too small. You'd think by now I'd have figured that out!

    Sounds like you did great for your first test, especially for being such a rookie on a green horse with a trainer sporting a cavalier attitude! At least it was only a schooling show. That's what they are for - schooling - so don't feel bad.

  13. Getting to the end of the post and I say, "Well, see, It wasn't as bad as you had thought!"

  14. we have a saying at our barn.

    "Did you both come out of the ring? Then you did well".

    The end.

  15. onthebit, thanks for the info. That makes me think, gee those circles would have been easy. What a difference a little information can make. lol

    grey horse, thanks for telling me about your spooky warmblood. That is funny. Not that I don't expect them to spook but I sure felt like I was alone. lol

    As for not being prepared,I would never go through that again. I have a horse I really want to show sport horse in hand and I haven't done it because I don't have enough information. I'm not going down that road again. It was awful.

    lori, thanks for all the links, I will check into them.

    dressagemom, it was really hard but I'm still glad that I did it. I have the experience under my belt and that's what matters.

    As for Dandy, I thought he really did great. He wasn't that broke and pretty much too it in stride, even that darn table wasn't unreasonable for a baby horse. I was pleased with how he handled things.

    callie, well, I lived! so that's good although at the time, I wasn't so sure. lol

    holly, I think that sounds like good logic. There are worse things in life than being unprepared for a schooling show. lol

  16. Wow! Your first dressage test makes me feel a little better about my first (and only) dressage test! I guess most young horses are afraid of the judge's table. And your trainer freaks me out. He couldn't have at least showed you the pattern the week before the show?

    And Dandy sounds like such a super horse. He could probably tell you were really worried, but he still did the best he could and didn't have any serious meltdowns. And those people were really mean to laugh. At least you know you did just as well, if not better, than them!

  17. As I read your story, I could actually hear the snorts and feel the tightening you probably felt in your chest!


  18. Funny stuff Mikael! I have trouble with those damn circles as well. With dressage, there is just so much be thinking about, I tend to "guesstimate" those circles.

  19. I love the comment from the judge regarding the circles. Dont you just want to go "DUH!"

    So brave of you to ride it any ways!

  20. OMG - I would have come out of the arena and beaned that trainer on the head...oh yea - with some of the wrecks I have had in the arena, I would have had to bean myself in the head because I was the trainer...LOL. It is great to hear that the judge gave you some positive comments.
    Are you still going on with Dandy? Sounds like he has real potential.

  21. Hee hee! The arena I ride in is only 15m across, so I have actually never ridden a full 20m circle on my horse (although I'm really good at the egg-shapes). I'm sure in my test I'm going to be thinking, "Should it really be this big???". Anyway, you should pat yourself on the back! I'd say your scores were very respectable for a first time!

  22. haffiegirl, good, I'm glad it made you feel better. 13 years later it doesn't feel so bad anymore. lol

    Now that I know, thanks to some of my commentors here, how big a 20 meter circle is, I should listened to Tom and ridden my regular circles. They would have been about the right size. lol Funny how hindsight is always 20/20. I think he was giving me the answer and I just wasn't getting it. He must have thought I was nuts. He really was a dear sweet man.

    deanna, I think I felt that tightness again just writing this story. I can't believe how stressed I was over that ride. lol

    photogchic, I think for me it started with the measurement, any measurement. I'm just not good guessing the ones I know let alone meters.

    It's nice to know that everyone seems to worry about their cirlces. At least I know I'm not alone.

    beth, ya, I was really surprised you made that comment. I wonder if she really thought I didn't know they weren't round. lol They were so bad, even today it makes me laugh.

    browneyed cowgirls, Dandy is a talented horse, there's lots he could do. There's lots of story left about what happens with him.

    kim ayars, well according to the other commentors the 20 meter circle extend across the width of the arena. Knowing that, I think I could have figured out the sides that were bordered by the poles.

    I think I threw my score cards away. Now I'm wishing I had kept them. It would be a fun thing to see all her little notations. My brain didn't hold onto all of them.

  23. This photo is smashing! Looking the part is half the battle!!! I still need to work on geting rid of Secret's hay you are doing loads better than me. People keep asking when he is due ;)