Early Days

Galway Downs HT Recap – Dressage

One day I will come back from a show and say that the whole outing was relaxed and nothing went haywire, and maybe we’ll have brought home a ribbon too.

Today is not that day though.

My goal for this show was to have improvement over our performance at our last horse trial, especially in regards to the “shenanigans” issue (which stems from Hemie’s nervousness when there’s a high-energy atmosphere which turns him into a bunny rabbit).

I’m happy to report that we met the goal. In fact, we had our best dressage test to date, followed by a mixed but overall positive stadium jumping, and a truly fabulous cross country go. We placed 11th out of 14 total competitors in the Senior Beginner Novice division, and overall the weekend was very fun.

Unfortunately, we did have some problems learning experiences too.

We hit the road Friday afternoon, unfortunately not early enough to miss LA-suburb traffic. We got there and unloaded as the sun was setting, so Hemie did not get the longe I was planning on. But he settled in great: ate, drank, peed, pooped, and had a happy expression on his face.

“Happy” came out more “ghostly” in this pic.

My husband Rick was my show groom (he’d given me a coupon for Christmas) and he drove down after work to spend the weekend with me. He was a very good sport and it was wonderful to have him at the show.

Saturday my division had both dressage and stadium. I decided to longe in the morning, to let Hemie take a good look around and get some bucks out. He was a tad hot at first but then settled down, and even was willing to go to work for a bit doing a few exercises on the longe (circle in and out, etc). I watched my barn mate compete and that was really awesome – they did well.

Why did the chickens cross the road? To watch stadium. I’m sure of it.

I decided to do another quick longe with a bit-up before my warm-up for dressage, to give Hemie a final opportunity to get some bucks out and then put Hemie in a working mindset before mounting. He longed okay but was getting amped up from the busy warm-up area atmosphere. (They had 4 dressage arenas running at the same time, and also had stadium jumping going on nearby, not to mention loud speakers, food vendors, the whole 9-yards, all right in the central location where we were longing.)

like this

I looked around for a mounting block, and all I could find was a folding chair. I had Rick head Hemie but he would not stand still next to the chair. I was running behind so I decided to just mount from the ground.

Bad move.

Hemie immediately started humping so I sent him forward and told Rick to let go and get out of the way. Hemie took off sideways bouncing like a bronc horse. We turned toward a tree. I remember thinking “Branch! Branch!” right before it knocked me right in the helmet. I don’t remember the buck but according to Rick I got launched. Of course I did not land in the soft ground of the longing area but instead on the hard packed walkway. On my right hip/lower back.

And then my husband did what probably any horse-husband-who-has-never-groomed-before-and-is-totally-freaked-out did: shouted AMBULANCE!

Ay, yi, yi. Suffice to say that I called off the ambulance (though my husband and I got into a bit of a tiff over it). I took a few moments to breathe and slowly get up.

I *almost* remounted from the ground, then thought better of it. We headed back to the barn and I mounted from a nice, high mounting block. Hemie had calmed down but was still a little tense (probably from *me*) so I had Rick pony us to the warm-up and once around.

We had a good warm-up, albeit a bit forward for my taste, though that seemed to be the best way to channel Hemie’s energy. We just focused on straightness (no falling out, no falling in) and then some bending.

We went to our dressage test and wouldn’t you know it, Hemie was all business. It’s still not nearly as good as our work at home, but we had zero shenanigans and kept our right lead canter without issue. I call that success.

And my score sheet:

We got all 6s with one 5 and one 7 (on our right lead canter, no less!). I’ll take it!  Overall, I’m quite pleased with this test.

And while I did get dumped trying to mount near the warm-up, I’ve learned my lesson and decided that next time:

  • I will only mount from a mounting block unless there truly is no other option.
  • Instead of longing/bit-up right before riding, I will do a full longe workout earlier in the day. 
  • If Hemie develops a tense, nervous energy, I’ll try to calm him down (perhaps by moving to a less hectic area) before mounting or continuing work. 
  • Then have someone pony me to or through the hectic area if needed. Build his confidence with baby steps.

Alright, that’s enough for one post. Next update will have stadium jumping!

17 comments on “Galway Downs HT Recap – Dressage

  1. Eep! Glad you're ok! Dressage looked great, aside from the tenseness! The more you do it, the better he'll get :)


  2. Glad you were ok…..excited to hear how the rest went!


  3. Forget the score–you guys are looking so much better in dressage!!


  4. Aye why do these horses insist on making things exciting? Congrats on the improved dressage!!


  5. My husband would have done the same thing. Your test looks great to me and I think your takeaway learning points are excellent.


  6. Thank you so much! I agree and am so happy to be finally focused on our actual dressage work rather than just preventing a meltdown!


  7. Thanks, me too. Will post soon!


  8. =) Thank you


  9. I know. Too exciting for my tastes. Looking forward to a boring show someday! Thanks =)


  10. Thank you! Ah yes, horsey husbands…drive you crazy yet you can't really get mad at 'em!


  11. Lol, my husband finally knows I'd never call an ambulance unless he does it while I'm unconscious, glad you weren't seriously hurt! Glad dressage went well, excited to hear about jumping!


  12. Glad you are okay! And you survived!


  13. Congrats on a good outing :)


  14. Survival = okay =)


  15. Thanks! My husband is still learning…


  16. I am a bit behind, but well done, Sarah! :0)

    (And, oh, Hubby!!!!!)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: