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One step forward and two steps back... or not really

October 2, 2017

On Sunday, September 24th I had an amazing ride in a lesson with Stephanie Freeland. We got some excellent moments of forward and round and pushing from behind. Then the rest of the week was a bit of a trainwreck with me not getting much saddle time. I had a bit of a craptastic school Thursday night but did manage to careen around and muddle through Intro B & C. I needed to school in my spurs since the Championship test does not allow you to carry a whip. My horse was cranky so I opted not to school in them that night. Y'all know I know better than to try something new at a show, right?! I mean seriously, how many times have I preached this to anyone who would listen and plenty who would not? Ugh. Friday was a bit of a whirlwind of getting my crap together and loading up the horse and heading out to the Hoosier Horse Park ...alone. Thankfully, I was stabled next to a friend and several of the horses had been at the previous shows so Cinder and I both had friendly faces around us. I schooled Friday afternoon and it was ok but not our best. She had some  forward  energy but it was intermittant and the lovely bends we had had earlier in week were only partially evident. Saturday morning was cool and we were able to hand graze for 45 minutes before our first class with no bugs! My friend Misty came for the day to hand me things, video, and watch some of the rides. (thank you). Intro B was ok, not our best test ever but I did have my whip, so the forward was somewhat attainable and the second half of the test was acceptable despite our lack of consistent contact. Grrr... Part of the problem was that the dressage equitation class was going on during our test around the ring beside us and I let myself get distracted by it. Cinder could not have cared lass of course. We scored a 67.813 for 1st place but I was seriously dissappointed in our performance. I might be a bit of a perfectionist. I was disappointed that I was not able to show how well my little red truck has been schooling at home :-(  We had some down time before the Championship class and I managed to do a passable braid job (not really, but humor me, ok?) while Cinder slept. Yup, droopy lip and all. She kept periodically waking up and stretching. I knew I needed more umph for the Championship class (Intro C) so I added the spurs and carried my whip in my short warm up. I am still struggling with how long I need to warm her up and both of our fitness levels. She was not impressed with my use of spurs and was a bit tense and irritated. We got two fives in this test :-(  both on the first canter, BUT I was able to sit down at the canter without her breaking. This is a milestone. I will accept the 5's for her work in progress status. I came out of the ring VERY dissappointed in myself. We immediately went to the schooling ring and trotted for a few moments and got the big forward, round(ish) trot we are capable of and then packed up and went home. We mananged to squeek out a 63.25% on that test. We are capable of much better. We won our class and earned the championship (ok, so I was the only one who qualified in my group) but it is still hard to be happy about our performance. I will say that my mare is a happy go lucky girl and an all around good egg. We WILL get her forward gear re-installed with some jumping this fall (her favorite thing) and come out ready to tackle Training Level dressage next year. I am very proud of how far she has come in the short time I have been riding her. 

Progress is not a linear thing. I KNOW that when I start doing the harder training work that the inconsistencies will be judged more harshly. It is all a part of the journey. As we move up the training scale we must all remember that Rome was not built in a day and  that progress is slow and frustrating and fleeting, but that it WILL come as long as we are tactful, kind and generous with praise. Good Girl Cinder!

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