Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Getting Some Confidence

Over the weekend, I was having some serious anxiety about our upcoming shows. I'm not an overly competitive person, I'm not worried about about having a bad ride, or 'failing' in the traditional sense. I do, however, have some pretty serious anxiety about remembering my dressage tests and jump courses. In real life I'm THAT person - the one who has to stop and think about left vs right, the one who will randomly start using her utensils in reverse hands or mount from the right side and not notice. Remembering patterns that involve a lot of left vs right can cause me a great deal of worry, particularly if I'm just reading it off a page. Our barn is awesome, but if I had one complaint, it would be that there are jumps in the arena 24/7. Great for when you are jumping, not so great when you're needing to ride up the centerline. Or if you're me, and start thinking the detours might actually be part of Training 2 come show day :)

Unrelated to this post, but I have to share - while I was on vacation worrying, Ginger went to that police horse clinic and did pretty well with EC!
So, I was relieved when I drove into the barn for my lesson Monday night and the jumps were gone and a 20x60 area was measured out. My lesson consisted of running through the test a few times while I got some handy tips from EC. I do not have a lot of experience riding dressage tests, so it's pretty basic stuff. I will include them here in case they might be helpful to anyone else:

- Most of the lower level tests are mirror image type patterns. If the trot circle is in the middle of the arena on the right rein, chances are it will be in the middle on the left rein too.
- Prepare further before the letter than you might think you need to. For the stretchy trot circle, start picking up your reins for the walk transition half to three quarters of the way through the circle. For the canter transitions, start preparing the corner before.
- Crossing the diagonal - aim a bit before the letter so the center of your turn at the wall is happening AT the letter.
- Look up, look ahead, plan 1-2 movements in advance. Check in with your horse, remind a turn or transition
is coming.
- RELAX, BREATHE. For me, even if I feel like I am taking my time, that probably still means I should go slower.
- On a related note, don't rush the transitions (up or down) Good transitions > being precisely on the letter.
- Pick a few places in your test to mentally check in with yourself.
Midge (middle) got drafted for police horse day 2 with one of the lesson kids. Midge of course didn't see the big problem with any of the spooky stuff and led the other horses through. I like how she's obviously on a big stride walking forward in this pic while the other two are not quite so sure. I'm sad the clinic filled up so quickly, but the silver lining is a good one with both my ponies getting borrowed to attend even if I didn't get to ride.

Maybe because that police clinic got Midge extra, extra confident, she was not on her best bevaviour for the lesson. Big tough ponies don't do dressage, I guess. Still, we've definitely improved since our last test prep lesson in the fall. EC was pleased, saying "What a difference from your last run through!" My reply "Yes, because we were literally RUNNING THROUGH the test last time...through the test and out of the arena even ;)" Staying inside the letters for the win!

I'm feeling a lot better about the dressage show...now, do I try to memorize the eventing test for the next day at the risk of confusing myself? Nope. We're agreed Entry Test 1 is going to be a last minute effort :)
Both my girls doing their thing with the lesson kids. Love them :)


9 comments:

  1. aw i love the pictures of your girls! great takeaways too - those are pretty much all the same things i'm constantly having to remind myself too, esp that bit about going slower and taking my time haha

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    1. I get nervous and then my inner rabid squirrel comes out no matter how hard I try to control it!

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  2. I always found it easier to memorize the test by visualizing riding it rather then memorizing a series of movements. That helps with the flow for me. And remember it's fun. :)

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    1. Now that I've ridden it a few times, I think visualizing it will be my go to. That, and consoling myself with the fact it's the 2015 test and if I can remember it now I can use it for a few more years! :)

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  3. I could never ride a dressage test without it being called for me. I might be able to remember the salute part, but I was way too nervous for anything else.

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    1. I may still resort to having it called on the day!

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  4. I read in my horse magazine this month that the Royal Dutch Riding Association (KNHS) has eliminated the halt & salute from dressage until you're at level Z1, which is German level M, or 3rd level USA. Can you imagine!

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    1. Ohhh, I like that. Particularly coming from an eventing angle where the dressage tests I'm riding don't halt and salute until the end. Makes it so much easier to forget!

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  5. I'm no help. I've never ridden a dressage test. Good luck!!! And remember to have fun.

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