This will be a long post in a series of long posts. There's no way around that because what was going to be a simple lesson recap and then a show recap got lengthened considerable to where I didn't want to write about it as it seems to have grown to the never ending topic.
Here we go.
We attended the HDS Winter Show Jan 27-28, 2018 where Vana and I did PSG again. I had a set of lessons the week before and the idea was that Vana needed to "let me ride him" rather than making his own choice. We started riding him FORWARD into the contact and he was NOT a happy camper. Years of getting by on his talent utilized half assed and ridden by AA riders that may or may not have been nervous makes him want to be like I GOT THIS! and do what he thinks is right.
I don't need the help.
I need a horse that is actively listening. We can do it. Helllooo 8s+. I KNOW we can do it. The mirrors say we can do it. My warmup the evening before the Saturday show at GSWEC said that we could (although AT the show it was more like 5s and 8s even split but whatever. I can take FANCY and EH in the same test as a sign of progress). Our warmup on Saturday was... ok. I rode him into the contact, praised him when he chose to do what I wanted as well as being appropriately fancy, and was firm but fair in my corrections. That doesn't stop him from doing aires above the ground when I touch (seriously TOUCH, not tap, not whack, TOUCH) him with the whip to gently remind him to use his inside right leg. SERIOUSLY... GET THE MESSAGE HORSE. He refuses to allow me to touch his right side bend, my awesome saddle is lumpier on the right continuously, and we do EVERYTHING to work on this. I know we're making progress. Each time we show he gets hotter yet also more ridable. It's a weird type of progress, but I can see it and I know it'll pay off in our hunt for our Gold.
But we entered the ring looking like I was on an inverted giraffe convinced he was a war horse. Seriously, we get in there and he just turns his head to his chest and leans into the contact like LET'S DO BATTLE. At this point, I try to subtly remind him what we're doing and all I get is YEAH YEAH SIT THERE AND LOOK PRETTY. Commence my sitting as accurately as I can and focusing on riding as tactfully as I can. I rode the CDI tests with basically NO horse in my reins so I mean, I can do things. But geez, it's definitely catching up with us at these FEI levels when he doesn't allow me to influence what we're doing. He also has ridden this test more than once in his life and being the intelligent horse he is, he "knows" how to do and it "shut up and let me be fancy" is his motto.
Saturday's test I "went for it" and rode him into the contact like a boss and called him on ALL his shit. All of it. Seriously, nothing was left out and I struggled through the entire trot tour to get him to get his head out of his chest and into my hands. We did some passage and well, I schooled the hell out of it. Only enough, we nailed our 4s which is something that we NEVER do because he decides on the 4th change to well change on the 3rd. No.matter.what.I.do.in.the.test. So yay for that.
I felt relieved and so the 3s ended up being a shit show since I (stupidly) thought that the thing we can do in our sleep would be a nice break from the shenanigans.
It wasn't pretty. It wasn't harmonious. I rode the best I could and as tactfully/humanely/fair that I could and I KNOW my horse still looked like I was beating him with unyielding hands because his mouth was open like a big mouth bass as he tried to touch his chest.
Judge at C whacked me hard for being an aggressive rider with evil hands and a meanie, Judge at E had a better seat to the action (hi voltes) and marked the HORSE down as disobedient. I love you Judge E.
So I felt good that I rode the test I needed to ride and make (some) point to Vana about.. something. I'm not really sure how he took it since I never felt he was mentally "with" me - hence the test being a hot mess. Sunday I decided to ride the test as a hybrid of what I would do and what coach would want me to do. I was humane and fair, but audibly praised and even pet when he tried, was with me, or actually did something obediently. Instead of letting him blow, I said "easy" and similar things. It was more harmonious apparently and honestly that's about all I can recall about it. We got a much higher score (naturally) but I wouldn't say Vana was more with me really and he kept waiting for me to beat him or something. Because we do that a lot *eyeroll.
Sorry scribes for making you write so much and sorry judges for not being as beautiful as we can be and using you for schooling. We're getting our crap together, I promise.
So after this weekend, I was a bit meh and knew the main thing we needed to focus on was to really crack down on Vana's acceptance of the bridle, acceptance of me, and acceptance that he didn't need to "go to war" when he gets in the ring at a "real" show.
Hang on for our next post... *sigh