Corona Day 1 – Dressage

I’m trying to find something to say about this day that doesn’t sound like whining or sour grapes. That could prove to be a little difficult, honestly.

3 horses this time = trailer caravan!

It started well… we rolled out of the barn around 7am and arrived at our destination in west Texas well before noon. We were one of the first groups to arrive so we had lots of room and time to unload and set up out stabling area. AND, since our group was the first to send in our entries, we got the best stalls/spot on the property. Major score.

Right next to the dressage ring and warmup

After settling in we tacked up the horses and took them out to stretch their legs. The facility has a trail running all the way around the perimeter of the property, so we had a nice little light trail ride and then put them away.

Bobby and I both had volunteered to do our dressage on Friday evening to help speed things along on Saturday, so we pretty much sat around the rest of the afternoon and played the waiting game. Finally 6pm rolled around and I hopped on to head to the warmup.

purple bands in the braids for Mom

Our dressage at home has been kind of tense and crappy the past couple weeks, for some reason he’s been in canter-canter-canter mode, so I was really just focused on coaxing Henry through the test without him getting upset. Our warmup was mostly walking and halting and trotting and walking and halting and leg yields. That tactic has worked really well for me, almost like boring him to death a little bit so that he settles.

As soon as we started trotting around the outside of the dressage ring he screamed once for Halo, and I got a little concerned for a second. But he went in and honestly tried super hard to be a good boy. He was a bit tense throughout, his little mouth was chomping at times, and the trot-canter transitions & halt were of course not good (they never are), but otherwise I was super pleased with him. Not our best effort but certainly not our worst. Fairly steady, at least, with no major loss of rhythm or disobedience.

When I saw that the score was a 38 I wasn’t very happy – our worst ever. When I got the test itself and read the comments, I was even less happy. When I saw that we ended up 12th of 14, behind horses that were explosive, had their noses way behind the vertical, and/or were flipping their heads the whole time, I might have had a bit of a moment. We got the same score as a horse who did all of it’s canter work traveling completely sideways and barely kept all 4 feet on the ground. I kept watching the video and reading her scores/comments, trying to see what she was seeing, and 75% of the time I just couldn’t.

Comment on this turn: unbalanced

Comment for this canter circle: heavy on forehand


Comment for this canter-trot transition: crooked


I sent the video and the scores/comments to my dressage trainer at home and he at least validated my feelings by saying “That’s bullshit”. I guess sometimes the judge just really doesn’t like you, and this was our day.

That said, I really could not have been happier with Henry. I felt like he showed a lot of maturity to keep himself together even though he was tense and nervous. A few months ago that would not have been the case. He did everything I asked him to do, when I asked him to do it. The pieces will get better as we go along, and I thank the judge for her opinion, but this score sheet is going in the trash. I don’t disagree with the score I got, we all know how subjective the actual numbers are, but I definitely disagree with where we ended up in the pack as compared to some of the other tests I saw.

What Henry thinks of that test

Tomorrow – on to the fun stuff! And a bit of redemption…

28 thoughts on “Corona Day 1 – Dressage

  1. Well that sucks! Sometimes I’m flabbergasted by the scores I’ve seen comparatively speaking… Like someone that misses moves in their test and has a horse trying to escape the ring the whole time scoring above the horses that maybe weren’t fancy but went about their jobs in an obedient fashion… Oh well! Onto the fun stuff!


  2. Well that dressage ring sure is interesting. LOL…are you sure you werent just in a field beside a truck stop doing dressage?? 🙂 Dirt clumps and all…

    He looks a bit uptight in that test but he did all the moves politely, he bends well, he is obedient so seriously? It sounded like she/he (the judge) brush stroked everyone with the same similar scores if you ended up 12th?? WTF??

    That really sucks. Sorry that you had to deal with that but glad you are happy with Henry. I would kill for that smooth a dressage test. LOL


      1. oh my god…those comments. OMG. seriously?? crooked and unbalanced? was she drinking? That is the only thing i can think of. LOL did you cut her off in traffic?? Poor Henry!!


  3. Well, darn! Glad to hear your trainer confirmed your thoughts – and Henry’s. Can’t wait to hear about the rest of the competition. Oh, loved the purple buttons for your mom.


  4. Haha well… we have a judge around here who automatically gives all thoroughbreds 55s. PERFECT TEST? 55. MISSED TWO MOVEMENTS? 55. TENSE AND INVERTED? 55. OBEDIENT TEST? 55.

    I won’t ride in front of her. What’s the point?


  5. ugh that’s super disappointing, i’d feel pretty sour too. we had a very poorly scoring test earlier this year that left me fuming that the judge just didn’t like arabs – except when i watched the video i DID see what she was talking about and just had to suck it up and accept that we rode a bad test. that doesn’t really seem to be the case here… which is arguably more frustrating 😦 can’t wait to hear about the jumping tho!!


    1. It definitely wasn’t a breed thing. I really don’t know what it was. She just plain did not like us. If the comments matched up to what happened, I wouldn’t have a problem with it, but I am just really confused by most of it.


  6. Sorry to hear the judge was clearly not being fair. Henry looked very obedient and definitely should not have been placed in the same category or below horses who were trying to escape the ring or cantering sideways. Very glad the rest of the weekend turned around and was better. 🙂


  7. I just had this same thing happen. The rider before me blew her counter canter serpentine entirely (horse did a change). She got a 62%. Pig was EXHAUSTED and flat, but tried his heart out for me and did everything I asked. No huge mistakes. We got a 54%.

    So did the other small chestnut horse, though.

    Fuck this. Imma go get drunk and take up fox hunting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hee Austen that made me smile 🙂 I Would totally follow you (already do on your blog now:)) if you took up foxhunting… 🙂


  8. Ugh, sucks when the judge just doesn’t like your horse. But that’s horse showing sometimes. Glad Henry was a good boy and that he’s making progress (even if the numbers don’t reflect it)!


  9. If I ever go to Texas and encounter this judge, I can throw rocks at her for you. Maybe even something better than rocks. That was a lovely test on some questionable ground.


  10. Wait did Judge McGrumpyPants fly down to West Texas just to judge eventing dressage? Cause if you recall my blog post from a while ago she ripped me a new one on a test I thought went pretty well. I’m still bitter about it too and that was back in May. I’m with Henry about this. Ugh. Judges. They’re always so judgy.


  11. Man, I thought the footing was questionable at the last schooling show I did- this looks sketchy as hell!

    Looks like a pretty nice test overall; I’m surprised you scored a 38, especially since it sounds like the judge wasn’t being a pissy pants and scoring everyone high. Boo, hiss!

    You could always let the organizers know that you didn’t like the judge’s scoring, especially if you have other people who are willing to do the same. If competitors complain, show organizers will make an effort not to re-hire this judge in the future! (Ask me how I know…)


    1. It’s really not as bad as is looks. The soil is very sandy, so the grass clumps squish right up and fall away under their feet. When he tripped behind in the video it was the only time all weekend. I cared far less about the state of the dressage ring than I did about some pretty hard/rocky sections of XC (which they did aerovate a lot so that helped).


  12. Ah, lady. I totally feel you. I had what I thought was my best-ever ride at a horse show this summer only to find out it had scored a 59% with TWO 4’s for not going all the way to the center-line on our counter-canter loop! And a gal who was on the wrong lead the whole test and whose horse was trying to swap leads in every corner got the same score as us. :\ I was a little crushed. But you gotta ignore like 70% of what the judges say (they ALWAYS want more, more, more- that’s their job) and go with how it felt to you. Be proud of your horse and the progress you two have made, regardless. And you know you’re going to kick ass at Stadium and CC! 😀


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