I think the thing I like least about show season is that a lot of the time it feels like you’re just maintaining things between shows, or prepping particularly for the show, and you kind of lose that “let’s play around with new concepts and see what we can learn here” aspect. I love that aspect. The learning and growth process is my very favorite part, and for me horse shows are just a thing we do along the way.

BUT – horse shows serve to show us the areas where we still have improvements to make and things to work on. After Ocala I came away with two main bits of feedback: 1) after that fabulous mis-read of the jump in the water, we def needed to school that question, 2) I felt like our dressage had stagnated a bit and the lengthenings needed more work.

So to address the first part, last Friday we headed over to Sweet Dixie to school since they had jumps in both of their waters. And, yup… really glad we did that because I was right, he genuinely did not understand the question. This horse is such a cross country savant that I think sometimes we maybe take it for granted that he is, after all, just about to turn 6 (and missed a good chunk of time between 4 and 5, to boot). It took quite a few passes through the first water before he really got it and was jumping it confidently. By the second water he’d figured it out though, and nailed that one straight away on the first try.

While we were out there we schooled a few other things too, including a couple Prelim questions.

The ditch being on an angle in this coffin was tripping me out.

Overall it was a good positive learning day, and Hillary brought Henry along (peep his ears in the GIFs) so he could have a fun outing and jump a few things too. Presto is getting less nappy about leaving the group when he has “friends” along with him, so I’m glad that there’s improvement on that aspect as well. Schooling some bigger/harder questions is fun too, because it’s nice to feel him actually start trying and thinking a bit. He’s not been challenged by much so far.

To address part 2 of the Ocala feedback, we had a dressage lesson yesterday. I especially wanted to go over the dressage test for this weekend at Rocking Horse since I haven’t ridden it yet – we’ve done Test A three times now, but this’ll be our first attempt at Test B. In some ways I like it more than A, but it’s definitely more complicated, with some 15m circles directly after changes of direction, more canter lengthening, and two trot lengthenings instead of one. The transitions within the gaits are going to be important on this one, as well as showing enough difference, being aware of where you are in the ring, and really being able to have enough bend in the corners and the ability to change it quickly and seamlessly. I think this test plays a bit more to Presto’s strengths… if I ride it well. If I don’t, it could be a real hot mess. Mostly I really need to remember to keep my reins shorter and hands more forward, it makes all the difference in keeping his front end up.

For our lesson we played with different parts of the test and then ran through it once. At the end we worked more on his medium gaits and lengthenings, which we haven’t played with as much lately. You can definitely tell that he’s getting stronger, and as he gets stronger he gets less wide behind.

I do feel like I have a hard time working on the lengthenings at home because he doesn’t feel as secure on grass. He’s a big young horse, it makes sense. We might look into making some modifications to his shoeing to give him a bit more traction. When he’s on actual surface he’s so much more willing to go forward and sit and swing, and I don’t really blame him.

Tomorrow we’re headed over to Will Coleman’s for some jumper rounds, and then Rocking Horse is Friday and Saturday!

3 thoughts on “Feedback

  1. I do agree that shows narrow our focus, I see it in two ways – to discover weaknesses and improve them – and to concentrate only on what’s most necessary for the upcoming shows.

    There is good and bad in that focus, just as you describe. It’s an interesting cycle in the ways that we improve some areas but perhaps stagnate in others.

    Time management has a lot to do with the narrowing focus. There are only so many rides before the next show. And a certain amount of that ride time has to go to working on the weak spots. And only so much extra info that we and our horse can take on in a given stretch.

    Interesting process.

    So cool that you and Presto are out there for real now !!! 🙂


  2. “Mostly I really need to remember to keep my reins shorter and hands more forward” This. Forever and always the biggest problem for me (aside from being a gigantic weenie, also an issue for me).
    Presto is like a real grown up boy these days! You two look amazing. I love how quickly he seems to pick up on things.


  3. I’d be curious to hear what your plans are for the show season in Ocala. I know they have shows pretty much year round, and you’re able to show much earlier and later in the year than in the midwest. Are you planning to take a break during the hottest times of the summer? Or maybe a couple breaks interspersed throughout the year? Always interesting to hear how people in other areas plan their season!


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