As it turns out, Cholula is, in fact, in heat.
Onto the actual post:
Cholula and I have never really gotten great scores on lengthens at first level. I have seen pictures and video of most of my rides, and in some of these rides I see a clear lengthening of stride.
The judge, however, does not.
Is this because we are doing them wrong? Is she really just showing faster and not a lengthening of frame? How many times can I use the word lengthen in this post?
Or is this because Cholula is a dachshund?
(Ok, her back isn’t THAT long and her legs aren’t THAT short but a few more inches on those legs wouldn’t hurt anything…)
Anyway, she can only lengthen so much. Give a girl a break.
At second level, we are expected to show medium paces. I barely know how these feel. There have been a few wonderful rides where she really lifts in front, opens her shoulder, and carries me forward. Like a wave. If you talk to the professionals, this is how it is supposed to feel.
But here’s the thing: no idea how to replicate that. It’s like a happy fluke every time it happens.
I used to also judge whether or not we were doing things right if I could sit it. If I couldn’t, wrong. If I could, right. Except I could sit literally everything we did last night without any problems…and while that generally means she is using herself properly, I’m not so sure we were really getting a medium.
Last night our ride was spent on transitions within the gaits, mostly at the trot. Short diagonals of lengthening, super collected, working, halt, collected trot, lengthen, etc. By the end of it she felt incredibly elastic and easy to ride. Sprinkled a few centerlines and halt-trot transitions in there as well. Slightly better from Saturday, still need some work for consistency.
This is one of those incredibly challenging and frustrating things about learning yourself while trying to teach your horse (and also reason #283 Cholula is a saint). There is no “rider, you do these things and the horse will do this thing.” Getting that medium without her rushing, finding the balance between letting her neck out a little so she can better use herself but not too much so she doesn’t rush and dump on the forehand…finding which exercises are going to be the key for HER – it’s a process, and one that I have to blindly fumble along at since I don’t really know what I’m doing. And these first few tests we may just need to accept “none shown” in our comment boxes. That’s ok. We have time.
And, also, there are things that Cholula will just never score well on because of her build. I don’t think it’s breed prejudice, per se. I have ridden for several judges at recognized shows and I’ve never felt as though they don’t like my horse and are punishing us because she is not a warmblood. However, Cho can’t hide things like lighter, more athletic horses. She’s behind the leg? You see it immediately. She’s not bending through the ribcage? Glaringly obvious. And, unfortunately, sometimes when she is going perfectly well they still think she is on the forehand when she is definitely not. She’s got a big front end.
To make me feel a little better, here are some things in Second one that are good:
-all the walking
-walk to canter transitions
And depending on what horse I have, collected trot and collected canter work.
Near future things:
Friday she has the day off for shots, coggins, and teeth.
Saturday I’m hoping to do some cavaletti with transitions, w/t/c, and she’ll get a pedicure.
Sunday…ride through of the test. Hopefully with video so I can really see what I’m doing/not doing. I AM COMMITTING TO THIS, HERE AND NOW. NO MORE PUTTING IT OFF.