My local showing association, DLSC, has as usual, a lovely selection of Dressage schooling shows for 2018. I have dithered and changed my mind a couple of times about what level to show, but decided to take the easier, less competitive path. Just like last year when we did Intro, we will show the level that we can do well with a minimal warm up and even when Jet is little spooky or tense. We have most of First Level but a few things are still a little sticky when done correctly and because it requires more energy and better balance, Jet can get a bit ramped up. By showing Training this year we can shoot for year end awards and Jet should have better, more positive show experiences, just like last year showing Intro. So that is the showing plan. Four or five schooling shows this summer and hopefully, deposits in the bank of Jet feeling like showing is easy and fun. It was kind of a hard decision but I had to ask myself what I truly wanted out of showing, to show at the highest level possible or get some good ribbons, better scores, and have a positive experience most tests.
On the day to day riding front I will do a Training test as part of my warmup most days and then move on to working on First/Second movements. I've had a bit of an epiphany about how to get the pieces we are missing at First. For example, I've been trying to get the missing movements like canter 15m circle or counter-canter by just doing them a bit. We can sort of get them but they are not great and doing them more is not making them better. Jet is also not happy because he does NOT like being out of balance. After thinking about things I realized the missing ingredients are energy and balance, so I need to focus on exercises that help those two qualities and THEN try the 15m canter circle or the shallow counter-canter loop. Just like doing some trot shoulder-in and/or transitions before a lengthen, this sets up the horse for success. Instead of having to over ride every step, the horse comes into the harder exercise in better balance and things are much easier. Who knew? I also made a list of what is difficult for us in each First Level test. It was a really short list and by using the above idea of not working to much directly on the challenging movement but on the things that should help the movement I think progress should be quick and a lot less irritating for Jet. Time will tell!