Going down the only road I’ve ever known

This should have been sooner. I am just a horrible person who is currently way too busy with school for her own good. I have to just get back into the habit of sitting down to blog once to twice a week and it will be as natural as breathing once more; I am sure of it!

This past weekend we held the first of many GDCTA Scribe clinics that will be going on all over Georgia. We had USDF S-judge Sandy Osborne come over to teach and had a turn out of about a dozen people who were enthusiastic about scribing. We are pretty blessed to have her locally and that a couple of our borders are heavily involved in the GDTCA which allows us to do events like these. I was one of a couple in-barn riders asked to ride for the clinic which involved riding a test of their choice so that Sandy could show the participants what was involved with scribing for a judge. I chose to ride the St. George as we are actually going to be showing it in a few weeks! The St. George is actually the Young Rider Team test so it was a perfect opportunity to test ride it all the way through about two weeks out.

I have to say my ride was a very successful run through. I haven’t shown in over a year, the last time I competed was in March of 2012, and for the first time in as long as I can remember I was nervous in riding a test. It was a strange feeling to have butterflies before turning down centerline – but definitely a good strange. It just reaffirmed how excited I am to be campaigning my big man again this year! We were asked to warm up outside and Georgia has definitely had an excess of rain in the past few weeks so the footing was less than superb. The footing in our outdoor front pasture was deeper than I feel completely comfortable with, and it was not completely uniform all the way through.  Ever since going to Festival and watching one of my competitors lame her horse in sub-par warm-up footing, I am overly attuned to the risks that come along with that. Val definitely slid into a hole at one point during our warm-up and because of this I didn’t really have push him or have the chance to puff him up in the direction of brilliance. This conservative riding on my part played a part in the fact our score in the test was mid-sixties and not higher. However, it was also important for me to go in and put a clean practice test down in his mind. Val is guilty of going to the ring in the past and trying to pick a fight about the work. Two weeks out from our first qualifier of the season, I felt that a positive in-ring experience was better than pushing him for brilliance. It was a choice of riding style on my part but it left me with the confidence to know that he will go and do his job for me and let me take care of the rest. It’s a good feeling to finally start to knowing that his confidence in my leadership is there. It let’s me know that in two weeks I can push him for more and that he isn’t going to balk or tell me no or he can’t.

It was also nice to run through the whole test together because it allowed me to see where the movements are that can boost my score up! His trot work is always really on the money, and this test was no exception. There are some accuracy issues that I can better take care of in my own riding to squeeze every point out. His collection needs to be very confirmed in the warm up so that it carries over into the test which will allow me to push for even more bend. I need to continue to school the walk pirouettes, which is something that I just don’t do enough of in the everyday work. When his collection is better all the canter work improves as well. I have to remember that in test riding I must use every stride to better the overall quality of the gaits, and use those short sides to show them off to his highest potential. The changes can be ridden with a little more ground cover in them; I just have to remember to trust Val to do his job and not second guess that. Also, I have to really be conscious of the expression overall – specifically in the lateral work where he tends to want to use my hands to carry himself.

Like I said, we are looking at our first qualifier in Aiken, SC on the weekend of the 15th-17th of March which is truly exciting! Our barn is taking eleven horses which means not only will I be busy showing but I will be busy taking care of all of our competitors  equine and human! This is my last week of college before Spring Break (which includes two tests – ugh!), which is the week before the show and I couldn’t have asked for better timing in that respect. Until next time, hope all your riding is going well out there!

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