Well, after a rainy holiday season and not nearly the consistency of work that would be ideal, the first show of my season has come and gone.
It was definitely a show with its ups and downs. We arrived on Friday to pouring rain, mucky aisles and hail pounding on the roof of the indoor as we warmed up our horses. There were all sorts of shenanigans happening with horses bolting, rearing, bucking and basically having a good ol’ time not caring that the rider might want a slightly different result from all that energy.
What was interesting was watching the two newly sponsored west coast Olympians, Guenter Seidel and Christine Traurig, bring out their new partners in what I am sure they had hoped would be a more cooperative weather situation.
The ever bold Guenter Seidel brought out his mount, a 13 year old Westfalian mare, straight into the Grand Prix after only a month of rides under his belt. The mare, renamed Coral Reef Wylea, came from Hubertus Schmidt into the Balkenhol barn where Anabel campaigned her through 2012. Wylea sports an incredibly expressive piaffe and passage, but there was tension through the weekend, which would be expected. Moreover Guenter has not yet had a chance to put his “mark” on her and she still appears to be someone else’s horse. It will be exciting to see how she develops under Seidel’s program. Confirmed at the Grand Prix, Guenter will have time to hone this big chestnut’s expression and build her into “his” type of horse.
Christine’s Louisdor is a huge bay gelding with an even bigger presence. As would be expected with a new partnership in a new environment (with hail banging on the roof of the indoor), Louisdor had some tension issues. That did not deter from the horse’s obvious talent and world class gaits. When all four hooves were on the ground one could really see the potential for this partnership to become one of the next heavy hitting contenders in the upcoming WEG and Olympic games. Christine’s previous Olympic partner, Etienne (also a Westfalian gelding), was also a sensitive, hot horse and she managed to ride him all the way to Olympic bronze. For now Christine seems to be sticking to the small tour, having Louisdor at PSG at this Mid-Winter Dressage Show. It will be interesting to see how they develop as the season moves along.
And as for me, Mark and I came out again at PSG. We were both VERY rusty and our scores reflected that. The first day I had a hot horse with no hind leg. We bounced around the warm up to the entertainment of anyone who might have been watching and let any productive energy get bolted away. By the time we entered the ring I had a spooky yet pooped out horse and a very defensive rider. What resulted was a PSG that felt like it took ten years to finish. It was slow, it was boring, it was nothing that I hope to repeat. Hilda Gurney was our judge and I felt she was spot on with her comments of “Talented pair but this test was ridden almost in slow motion. Go more forward!” I laughed aloud when I read those words. The second day I decided that if I was going to get a poor score, I would at least get a poor score boldly. So again I was out of Mark, but this time tried to make the most of it. What resulted was less tidy but more productive. I think that is one thing that I need to overcome as a rider. I like things to be tidy and controlled and sometimes one just need to push past what feels comfortable and into the world of the the hot mess. So next show I hope to have that as my starting place and see where we can go from there.
My new mantra is if I am going to get a poor score, I might as well get a poor score with panache.
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