I may just be ready for the contest, as long as I can remember which test is which.
I got confused and kind of did a mash-up of the two tests at first, but Dada corrected me. I got it right afterward, even throwing in the halt.
Louie kept doing weird things with his head and back legs because of flies, but I did stay on.
I even did the freestyle with such good rhythm that I finished early. Apparently, the ride has to be between 4 minutes and 4 minutes 30 seconds.
If I finish early, I can add stuff to stretch it out. But that requires hearing the music. Hopefully, the arena will be louder than the field.
I am ready for the show.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I may just be ready for the contest, as long as I can remember which test is which.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Wow, Dada used "so great" more than once. I think I am getting it.
We lowered the left stirrup and I tried to push down on that all the time. I did sometimes, and that kept me from leaning too left.
I have two figure 8s in my champion test, and I did them pretty well. They looked circular even -- I was so proud. But when I got home, I read over the test and noticed I missed an element. There is a halt in there. Oops. Luckily, a halt is easy to remember and to add.
The freestyle test went pretty well, too. I have two figure 8s in that one, too. Once, I messed up the first circle by trying to turn Louie to sharp, but my other circles were round.
I like freestyle because you can cover up mistakes somewhat. You have to make an eight-meter figure 8 and a 10-meter one. It doesn't matter when or where. So if your eight-meter circles are too big, you can make them the 10-meter ones. Just change up on the fly.
I start with an eight-meter figure 8, but try to give Louie some freedom. If he is walking well and it is too big for the eight-meter, I just let him and make it the 10-meter.
I am just about ready for the competition, just have to remember the halt.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
I knew I had made a total fashion faux pas when I got out of Kate's car at Golden Dreams and someone said to Dada: "You didn't tell me to wear my whites." What on earth was I thinking? It is way worse that white shoes after Labor Day, and in horse country, no less.
Well, here is what I was thinking: The white breeches have a fly and Velcro bottoms so I can get them off easily. I also figured I would dress up for Golden Dreams' opening. I wasn't going full competition fashion – I did not want to do the buttons on a tuxedo shirt. I wore a white T-shirt but brought my tux jacket. I was going to wear it and call it my "competition casual" line. As it was, they gave me a Golden Dreams golf shirt so I wore that instead. One guy, not a horseman obviously, did say I was the sharpest-dressed there. Now that I think about it, though, I was the only male rider, so maybe he was just throwing me a bone.
One more fashion note: I do like going to horse country. I never feel out-of-place wearing my breeches.
On to the ride:
My brother-in-law loaned me his weight-lifting belt so I used that for back support not the big vest. That felt good, just to be out of the vest on a nice warm day. And I did not wear any ankle braces, just half-chaps. I felt really good, though.
The only problem was I lean to the right, and well, I don't know if I actually got parallel to the ground but it was close. The worst time, I was in the midst of a right turn and Dada was yelling left side, but I didn't want to sit on my left mid-right turn, when you are supposed to sit a little right.
I think the answer might be uneven stirrups, like the left one lower than the right one. Maybe. We have a few weeks so I'll get it.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Saturday, May 12, 2007
I read Dante's Divine Comedy in college, but I don't remember dressage being part of Hell. It must be, though, especially figure 8's.
Dada set out to make my circles round today in a long lesson. I don't know if we succeeded. It was pretty tough, rerwarding but tough.
We spent a lot of the lesson just doing 10-meter figure 8's. I often got one side pretty good but not the other.
The problem is I don't balance well. Shocker, I know. And I apparently don't trust Louie.
Dada says to give Louie freedom to make the circle and trust him to do it right. I try, really I do. But then his head doesn't seem turned into the circle or he tends to be short so I give the reins a light tug, which makes Louie turn sharply and ruin the circle.
Dada fixed one problem early on, or tried to. She kept telling me to look where I am going. If I learn nothing else from dressage but that, it will be a success, because I have never wAtched where I was going, even when I walked.
This wasn't really an issue but I was using a new saddle, an Australian one. It has a nice big horn for me to grab, but it does not have a little strap for me to hold with the reins. I missed that, and Dada tried to rig one up but it kept coming off. I am sure that will be better on Wednesday.
I just wish I could try again right now. It probably wouldn't be much better, but it might.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
So it finally happened. The ride today was just OK.
It wasn't a bad ride. I didn't fall or anything, just not as good as riding has been.
I was doing a freestyle test that required two figure 8's back to back. We cut it down to just one, though, and it went better.
I was also riding without ankle braces for the first time in ages. I am not supposed to use them in competitions, and I think it will be fine. But it felt a little odd. It was hard to use my legs to motivate Louie to walk.
I am going to start using the Australian saddle. Dada says the dressage saddle tilts me too much to the right.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
On the way home from my lesson today, mom said something like: I never would have thought you’d be riding alone after seeing that first lesson not quite two years ago.
Me either. But I am!
Today, no one touched me or Louie except to help me on and off and a little cooling-down lap when Dada guided Louie. It was great. Someone should have started humming the national anthem or something.
I performed both tests that I’ll ride next month, and Louie did so well. I still need a little work on the figure 8, but we are getting a pretty decent rhythm down. It was especially good on the first ride.
On the second one Louie decided to have a little snack during a free walk and lowered his head and stopped. I was able to get him going again and Dada said if he does that again to give him a little reminder with the reins that I am in charge. I need to remember the word little.” He started to snack again and I gave the reins a jerk that brought his head straight up. Sorry, Louie.
Dada also is working on my legs and feet. She emphasizes using my legs to get a rhythm going and keep it going. I often stop working my legs when we are going OK. Whoops. She said to use a pattern of left-right-left-right, I guess like walking. I need to get the rhythm of walking back.
When my feet are in stirrups, the front part of my foot pushes down. That is not how it is supposed to work, so Dada has started telling me to push my heels down. It is hard! But it feels better and I guess it is a good sign that Dada feels good enough about my riding to deal with the heel issue.
For my last ride I did a freestyle test. It includes a double figure 8 that is quite challenging.
But it is all so fun.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
I hadn't ridden during the week after work in a long time, and I was worried because I was exhausted when I left work. I needn't have worried. The weariness fell away as I got to Spirit Field.
From the start, it was a good lesson. I finally met Whitney, one of the people who helped me get out to Colorado for my first real competition. She is as wonderful as I had heard and had assumed.
This was also the first lesson I got my right leg over Louie without much help or struggling. Then away we went.
I did the serpentines pretty well and the other parts of the test were good. The figure 8 was a problem. I had been doing the circles too small before and I need more practice on the bigger circles. That's one of the reasons I am riding twice a week.
The other reason is that I feel something just clicked in me the past few weeks, and I am so eager to ride. I know the nurturing environment at Spirit is a big part. The strap that lets me holds on to something helps, too. Maybe the protective vest? I don't really know and I guess it doesn't matter why. I'll just enjoy it as it comes.