Jumping Branch HT: Dressage

Do you want to know the quickest way to piss off a very toddler like Appy? Ride him three times in under 24 hours with no jumps in sight. Whoa boy did he get mad at me Saturday! It was funny but maybe not the best attitude to enter a dressage arena with.

Discussing the plan of attack with Trainer AB in warm up.

With all morning Saturday to kill before my ride at 12:44 pm, I walked my xc course again, watched show mates in the earlier divisions, pre rode at 8 am and read a book all before tacking up for my official warm up at 12:15 pm. The whole day I was a little concerned about his enthusiasm levels knowing it was going to be a lot of cantering out on that course. I found it a bit tricky to navigate the pre ride and warm up to get him supple and responsive yet not over worked. Of course Eeyore didn’t help me out at all being a raging lunatic for the morning pre ride and then starting the warm up the same. He eventually came down and realized the work was just beginning but by that point I think he was over the entire day. I don’t know. It will make more sense when we get to the other phases.

Trainer AB had a lot to do that morning with at least 1 rider in every division (except prelim) and ride times all over the place. Somehow she magically appeared right next to me in dressage warm up right as I was ready to throw my hands in the air and call the whole thing quits. Eeyore was still in the mind set that he could only canter or walk and with a lot of the test at the trot, I was worried we’d be a train wreck. Trainer AB set me on a circle and called me out for letting him pull me down when he got flat and rushed. I needed to focus on sitting back, remaining strong in my core and being a more proactive rider. At one point she commented “He really thinks he has more of a say in how and where he is going and we need to change that” By the end of warm up I had a much more supple horse who could trot and bend again.

Trying to reinstall that trotting is a thing he is capable of doing. Note the swishing angry Appy tail.

And then I threw everything she had said to me out the window and stopped riding completely the moment I entered at A. Ugh.

In retrospect I think my attitude of “I only want to complete” backfired. I set that as my motto so I wouldn’t allow myself to take it too seriously and get all nervous but in the end it only served to give me the leeway to not take it seriously enough and ride like crap. Next time I’m going to fix that. Anyway.

We entered at A and trotted down the center line to the weird bending line to M. I think I held my breath the entire time and finally let it out once we began tracking left. Of course the moment we were along that far short side, someone was jumping their stadium round right next to us and Eeyore found that way more entertaining than anything inside the dressage area. I should have forced his attention back inside but instead I hung on like a blind monkey and let him do whatever he wanted as long as he stayed in the darn trot. That garnered us a “counterbent” and a “still counterbent” comment on those marks.

A enter and forget all your training

We kept it together to E, made the 20 m circle stiff as a board on both our parts and looking like we hadn’t just spent the last 3 months on bending, then rejoined the long side heading towards the first canter transition. In my head I kept a silent whisper of “please don’t buck, please don’t buck” going as I at least remembered to slow down his outside before asking. Thankfully he picked up the left lead without complaint and we managed a motorcycle lean 10 m trapezoid at A. But hey, he cantered, he was on the left lead and he came back to the trot when I asked so I was thrilled with that.

Left canter…or as we like to perform it…left nearly race away from boring dressage so we can get to the jumper ring quicker.

The walk transition is his favorite thing ever, so that wasn’t a big deal and he gave maybe a pretend stretch in the free walk. We never practice that so I didn’t really care. Once tracking right I made zero attempt to collect him up in fear he would break to the trot as he was getting a bit pissy and over the fourth flat ride of the weekend at this point. The judge saw it and remarked “unclear trans” Yeah. I know.

We walk

The right hand side of the test comes up a lot faster with trot at K and then an immediate circle at E and canter in the corner. I was a bit tense going into this hoping he would keep his marbles with all the questions being thrown so quickly. He did though and I was proud of him for keeping his cool. His right lead was softer than the left which is not typical for us and while the circle was still small and erratic, we made it through without breaking to trot or leaving the arena. Then it was trotting all the way around before the final center line and salute which even as I was doing it I knew was off line and then I completely blanked on where G actually was and randomly halted. The judge wasn’t very pleased with us.

Somewhere in the vacinity of G

I exited the arena and was really proud of Eeyore. He had stepped up when it mattered and while he was tense, rushed and distracted I also didn’t actually ride much in an attempt to get by. I was relieved to be done with dressage and talked with Trainer AB as we put his bell boots back on and headed to the barn for the hour before stadium. her end analysis was that she was super proud of us, the geometry could use some work but when he gets flat and rushed its hard to really tell where we are going to go and that I should be really happy in that atmosphere that we got our leads and did all that asks when we needed to. The rest can get polished up over the winter.

I went back happy, relieved and with a tired and sweaty horse under me that still had a lot of work to do. I had no clue what my score was and didn’t really care. It was on to the fun part!

My happy to be done with dressage face.

I’m sure you want to see the score sheet. We got mostly 6s. The lowest was 5.5 for both our canter circles with the comment “small”, but I was really proud we got a 7.0 for our right lead canter transition because historically he bucks into that one so yay! The only other 7 was in the working trot after the left lead canter circle with the comment of “active”. All collectives were a 6.0. I do need a little help here bloggerland. I ended with a 38.9 which was dead last and whatever. But um how? I’m not arguing the scoring at all here. I really don’t understand when everything is in whole or half numbers how you get a .9. I’d have thought it would have been a 39 then. I’m sure it is a math thing and math makes my head hurt so can someone briefly explain to me the math behind this?

Collectives read: needs balance, gets quick and tends to counterbend, shows willing attitude and watch geometry. All good points.

30 thoughts on “Jumping Branch HT: Dressage”

  1. You get to a .9 score because the scores are all added up and converted to a percentage, which is then subtracted from 100 and rounded to 1 decimal point. (Rule EV136 Dressage Scoring, 3d) You know, because scoring should be convoluted and confusing! 😉


  2. Dressage is so hard and you only get better at it by doing it in front of a judge hahaha. Can’t wait to see you both come out in the spring even better!

    As for the scores, if you look a few lines from the bottom you’ll see that you received 110 points out of a possible 180.

    110/180 = 61.1%.
    100 – 61.1= 39.9


    1. It’s a lot harder than it should be but that’s horses all the around. The nice thing with putting in a bottom dollar test is that I now have a lot I can work on throughout the winter and it can only go up!

      Thanks for explaining it. I saw the 110 but then still got confused. Now it makes sense

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You survived! that is all that matters 🙂 you remembered the test (besides where G is and I HATE that diagonal line at the beginning) and you remembered to breathe. All is well 🙂 I should find you shots of Remus’s first dressage test way back when where he more resembled a brick than a horse 😉 HA! Congrats on staying in the ring (Hey it happens HAHAHHAH)


  4. Yes- Emily explained it well. Each test has a max amount of points you can receive and they basically divide your number from that and that’s your score. In true dressage they’ll keep it as a percent.
    Glad you guys got through it and you were happy at the end- that’s all that really matters!! He’ll get used to the whole “first we do dressage, then we jump” and I am sure with some more outings under your belt he’ll become so well mannered!


  5. Yay you did it! I think surviving and completing isn’t a bad motto but it definitely becomes self defeating at some point and we have to change it around in our head to something more lifting and affirming like “I’ll have fun” “We always do our best” etc.

    I think it’s great though that you went out and did the thing because that’s half the battle anyway!


    1. It was a big mental block for me getting to my first show. For some reason I made it out to be this big insurmountable thing that I would never be ready for. Having done it now I can get more serious and hold myself a bit more accountable


  6. Haha I love that picture with his appy-tude tail flip! Good on you for getting it done! Yeah, I know sometimes as much as “completing” is a great goal in and of itself, sometimes as L said it can get self-defeating. But just as you replied, sometimes it just takes that once for us to get over the hump, that road block, to then be better prepared for the next one. Sir Sass definitely has opinions, but honestly, I thought your test looked great!


  7. You are not the first rider to enter and A and lose her mind. It happens often. Especially when you haven’t shown in a long time. I think you should be pleased about how steady your lower leg was and how you just rode him through it all. It never looked like you were a passenger. Also, he looked adorable.


  8. I think you guys look pretty damn good! And I’ve definitely one hundred percent gone into the ring before and flounced around with ZERO plan or input. More than once lol.


  9. I love that last pic of you and Eeyore leaving the ring 😉 congrats all around! And yea the whole “just trying to complete” attitude is something I struggle with too. It’s like an excuse for slipping into “passenger” instead of “pilot” mode. Still tho, y’all did great !! What a great first experience!!


    1. Exactly. It was the attitude I needed to allow myself to reduce anxiety and not throw up but then it kinda gave me license to fiddle about instead of ride the way we’ve been practicing at home. The nice thing is that hopefully I can fix that with an attitude adjustment and our score should go up simply from that


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