The chronicles of a Friesian mare who happened upon an owner who lives outside the show ring....

Monday, July 21, 2014

UNH June Dressage

What a busy summer!  I don't know if I'm coming or going between juggling horse shows, property maintenance and improvements, work and family it's just crazy sauce!

Back in June, I took Daatje to the USEF Dressage show up in UNH.  This was just before I took a week long business trip to Ohio.  I was bummed 'cause I wanted to show both Saturday and Sunday that weekend, performing one test each day, but I had to fly out on Sunday and didn't want to risk having to scratch out of a test just to make the flight.

So anyway, Daatje was very, very good.  She always gets decent marks with respectable comments like "horse is very obedient", etc.  She'll never get stellar marks as she's not a brilliant horse.  Her gaits aren't over the top, she's long in the back and steep in the croup which makes lengthening difficult for her.  But she tries to do everything I ask of her the best that she can.  What more can I ask for? :)

There was a professional photographer there, who took a TON of photos of us.  I bought alot of the digital images, just couldn't decide between them!  Here are a few of my favorites.

Love this photo!

The Sensation Formal Dressage Saddle continues to impress. :)  I had to use the pad I made for my Jump model as I hadn't had time to sort something out that fits this saddle better, but it did the job and only looks a little funny. :)  She scored well in the mid-sixties in both First 2 and First 3. 

After this show, we attended the NEDA Summer show.  The weather was nasty hot.  Daatje put in what felt like the best test of the season so far, but the judge only scored us a 58.8%  Too low, based on what we've been scoring and how she felt, but some judges just don't like Friesians.  I haven't encountered it in a while, but the prejudice still exsists.  No matter, soon we will be galloping over hill and dale, through swamp, forest and fields to a pack of hounds in full cry!

That is where the REAL fun is at. :)  Season starts for us on August 16th!!!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Finally, a new dressage saddle!

New to us anyway.  I found a barely used Sensation Formal Dressage online for sale at a significant discount compared to ordering a new one.  (about $850 less!)  How could I resist?  She has had such success hunting in our Sensation Jump saddle that I've wanted to get the dressage version for quite some time. 

We've ridden in it a couple of times and it is ah-mazing!  Comfy for me, but more importantly, comfy for her.  Her trot is bouncier, her canter  more round, her leg yeild unimpeded.  It's amazing what the horse can do when the tack isn't causing restriction.

Love, love, love these saddles.  Paired with the handmade pad I made, they have been a back saver for her.  So grateful that I've been able to secure two of them.

We continue to work out dressage schooling as our next show is Saturday, June 21st, up at UNH.  We'll be doing First 2 and First 3, so hopefully it won't be too hot!  I just sent the entries in for the NEDA Summer show to be held on July 13th and something new.....the Broadfields Dressage Sport Horse Show to be held on July 19th!  We'll just be doing one test at NEDA Summer.  I expect it will be HOT mid-July and one is enough for her in that weather.  The Dressage Sport Horse Show is something new and exciting that we've never done!  We'll be showing in-hand on the triangle in Maiden Mares 4 and older and in the IBC (Individual Breed Class) for Friesians.  Whoo!

I just put a new pair of Ground Control Shoes on her yesterday and I continue to LOVE them.  I'm getting faster at shoeing too.  Bless her heart, the first set I put on took me about a hour a foot!  (she is a saint to stand there while I figured it out) but this last set went on in just over 2 hours.  So nice to have new kicks. :D

Friday, May 23, 2014

Going Grey

No, don't worry, Daatje is not going grey! :P 

I am. 

Or, rather, I have been since I was 17 years old!  That's 20 years of dyeing my hair and the older I get, the less time and patience I have for it all!  So, on a totally *not* horse related note, I have started a blog to chronicle my transformation from a regular hair-dyer to a silver fox!  Might be interesting. :)  Check it out at Graycefully Grey.

Monday, May 12, 2014

NEDA Spring 2014

  Last Saturday dawned a cool 52°F (too cold for a bath!) and rose to nearly 80°F by the afternoon.  Thankfully the sun stayed behind the clouds most of the day, but it was a shock coming from such a cool start!

I didn't expect much from Daatje.  We're not fit, it was hot, we haven't had lessons or a coach since 2007 so I really just wanted to get out there, do our very best, and see where we stood.

The ride down was long.  2 hours and 15 minutes of heavy traffic, highway driving, most on 95 south just west of Boston.  I'm used to hauling, but not on those kinds of roads!  Stressful.

We got to the Marshfield Fairgrounds with 45 minutes to spare before my planned warm up.  Daatje unloaded and chillaxed while I got ready.

My Mom came with me, such a treat to have company, especially on such a long trip. :)  (she took all the photos)

So serious! Lol
First 2 went pretty well.  We made some technical errors that we might have been able to avoid given more balance and strength, but all in all, not a bad test. :)
15m Canter

Trot down C-line

Leg Yield Left
And as it turns out, we recieved a 65.81% which left us in second place behind the leader who scored 65.94%.  Just a hair under a tenth of a percent from the blue!  (at NEDA Spring, first place over 65% gets the NEDA medal along with the ribbon and goblet)  I was thrilled with her and was encouraged that we still have it to be competitive at the big shows (practically right out of the field!)

It got hotter and more humid between First 2 and Training 2 and we were both tired.  She was poky in the warm up and I didn't want to push her.  After a bare bones warm up, we proceeded with Training 2.
Halt Salute

A little tight here


Free walk (Daatje says "thank goodness!")

Medium walk

20m circle

Softer here too

Second canter circle

Halt-Salute end.

All done, we're pooped!
I honestly thought we lacked such luster in that Training level ride that we'd be lucky to score a 60%!  It felt as if in slow motion. :P  To my absolute astonishment, we scored a 70.34% and won the Training 2 division!  (a pretty big group)  Go Daatje!  I'm so proud of my sweet mare.  Willing to go along with just about anything.  So, at the end of the day, we did come home with a NEDA medal!  Who would have every thought?  Not I, that's for sure.

Our return to USEF rated dressage has shown me that it can be done without a trainer/coach by your side and that although we haven't had the money or time for lessons, we have not lost our skills.  I'm really looking forward to training more over the summer and tring to improve those scores at First level!  My goal would be something in the 70%'s at First 2 and or First 3.

I might do a schooling show the end of May/beginning of June to test out First 3, but that aside, our next rated show will be at UNH on June 21st!  Whoo-hoo!

UNH June (First 2, First 3) 6/21/2014
NEDA Summer (First 2, First 3) 7/13/2014
Oyster River @ UNH (First 2, First 3) 8/10/2014


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Night and Day Difference

Just a quick update re: the return to Ground Control shoes.  I rode her last night for the first time since putting them back on (and ditching the Hoof-it Natural Flex) and she felt simply fabulous.  Back to her normal self.  I'm so relieved! better not go out of business!  Ever! :)

This Saturday, May 10th, is the first big show of the season.  NEDA Spring in Marshfield, MA.  It's a 2 hour haul and we ride at 2pm and 4pm.  First 2 and then Training 2.......wish us luck!

Monday, May 5, 2014

NEDA Schooling Show Report and Hoof-it Shoe Update

This past weekend was our first outing of the season, and the dry-run for the big NEDA Spring show coming up on May 10th.

I had no idea what to expect from Daatje as we have not had many opportunities to practice this spring and the combination of lack of strenth / mental freshness was going to be working against both of us.  She had been improving a little during each subsequent schooling ride so I suppose dressage is like riding a bike. :)  Once you know it, it's not too hard to get back into the game.  (mentally, anyway!  physically will take some time)

Daatje stepped off the trailer and instantly knew we were at a dressage show (as opposed to a fox hunt).  Funny how horses can identify different scenarios and associate them with different jobs.

Cool as a cucumber, she warmed up nicely.  I was nervous.  I have no idea why!  I just was.

We rode Trainin 2 first, which went well.  She was a little deep (my tension combined with not being used to working in rising trot) and lacked forwardness (I was blocking her) but still scored a 64.5% which wasn't too bad!

After a short break, we were back for First 2, which actually rode much better than the training level test.  I much prefer to ride the sitting trot and she had loosened up quite a bit.  I wasn't as nervous and was not blocking her so she got much better marks for gaits and connection. 

However.  Rider had a brain fart and started the second leg yeild in the wrong direction!  Oy.  Can't believe I did that.  I knew the instant it happened, before the judge even rang the bell, but there was no saving it!  We went right back on track and then Daatje decides to stop to poop in our second canter.  Ah well.  There were some really nice moments despite the goofs and we scored a 62.7% regardless.

All in all, a good ice-breaker for the season!

Posing in the Micklem

Training test 2

Training test 2
A lovely woman who was there to take photos fell in love with Daatje and emailed me the photos above.  So nice of her!

Hoof-it Natural Flex Shoes - an update

Daatje was shod in the hoof-it's two weeks ago (April 19th).  I have been in the process of forming an opinion of the shoes, which concluded at the show.  She does not move as freely in these shoes as she did in the Ground Control Shoes, nor does she seem as comfortable in them.  The best way to describe it.....she feels "stuck".  She felt much the same way when shod all 4 in steel shoes.  I believe the design provides too much traction and does not allow for enough natural "slide".  The Ground Controls, while not offering as much additional traction, were closer to the "feel" she has of the ground when bare.

So, when we got home from the show, I pulled the Hoof-it's and put her back in the Ground Controls.  Thankfully I had a set that were only worn 6 weeks, so were perfect for a reset.

There was an immediate difference in the way she moved and apparent comfort level in the way she stood.  I would compare it to taking off a pair of chunky soled work boots and putting on a pair of soft slippers.

I'm giving her a couple days off and will ride again on Wednesday to see how she feels.  I didn't take photos of the reset GC's as it was late and I was all business. :) 

Fingers crossed the weather is nice and all goes well at NEDA Spring!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

*What* was I thinking?!?

It has been since August of 2007 that I have shown with my mare at a USEF dressage show.  When I look her up on the USDF Score Check and see this:

DateCompetitionClassLevelTestOwnerRiderJudge(s)Special DesignationScorePlacingUSEF Check
8/4/07-8/5/07Dressage on the Seacoast at UNHNot RecordedTraining4Sarah IsherwoodSarah IsherwoodB. Ebner62.4
6/29/07-6/30/07University of New Hampshire Dressage ShowNot RecordedTraining4Sarah IsherwoodSarah IsherwoodL. Heyerdahl59.2
6/29/07-6/30/07University of New Hampshire Dressage ShowNot RecordedTraining2Sarah IsherwoodSarah IsherwoodA. Gregoire61.786
5/12/07-5/12/07NEDA Spring DressageNot RecordedTraining2Sarah IsherwoodSarah IsherwoodD. Loveless60.357
6/23/06-6/24/06University of NH Dressage ShowNot RecordedTraining2Sarah IsherwoodSarah IsherwoodJ. Conlon51.923

It makes me sad.  :P  That was a long time ago and we've done alot since.  So this year I think, "I'll join the orgs and go to some rated shows!"  We'll get more scores on our record and it'll be FUN!

So, we entered NEDA Spring on opening day and I wait for the weather to turn so we can start practicing our skills (or lack thereof!)

Well, the weather has continued to be awful, without an indoor and only my grass field (which is too wet to use), I have not had much opportunity practice at all!  Like.  Two rides.  >:(

We're doing one schooling show this Sunday to see where we stand, but man, I'm thinking we're goign to have to majorly wing it at these first two shows and that has me wicked stressed!

I felt silly signing up for Training 2 and First 2 and not First 2 and First 3, but now I'm glad.  No way we could pull off the counter canter loop right now!

Why muthafin' nature, why?!?  Is a nice sunny WARM dry day too much to ask for in April?  :P