When your horse is THAT horse at the show

So we finished dressage and headed off to stadium.

Oh wait, that would be toooo smooth.

(also, so sorry no media. Like no media period. It wasn't the most media-friendly of days)

No, we did not go off directly to stadium. Instead we spent 40 minutes working on getting a flat-footed walk. I don't know about you but I do prefer my horse to walk when asked. You know, a nice four beat rhythm. We went behind all the trailers to a grassy area with enough space to walk back and forth without much turning. Only all we did was go in circles.

My theory on this (and I am an amateur, so take it with a grain of salt) is that I don't want to haul on my horse's face - it just breeds bracing, resistance, a dead mouth, and a complete tuning out of aids. And tight circles are more difficult for her so if she trots and I circle her, the idea is she'll get the message that it's easier to walk than it is to jig. So I asked for a walk and when she jigged or trotted, we turned in a tight circle until she was walking again. Rinse, repeat. ad naseaum.

Seriously, 40 minutes spent going in teeny tiny circles. I don't know about her but I did get dizzy a couple of times. I could have taken the advice of the dressage judge and lunged her but then I'm just getting her fit, not doing anything to address her tuning me out, and stressing her legs (which, I realize sounds contradictory but we did get to walk in straight lines, eventually).

It took awhile but he started listening to me - at about minute 39. I didn't haul on her mouth, I didn't hold her back, I just let her out on a loose rein and when she jigged, we circled. Not sure if it's clear enough but we circled a lot.

She was finally pretty relaxed and listening. I stayed on and we headed over to the stadium arena. It took about another 30 minutes before we got to ride but she did great. Called a few times and didn't want to stand still but listened and tuned her radio frequency to my general direction.

We jumped a couple times (vertical and oxer) with no issue and then waited for our turn.

Stadium went swimmingly. Again the Starter division was timed (wtf?) and it was interesting to see the number of riders that dropped rails. I seriously don't understand why a lower level division should be timed, it's just not appropriate. These kids and horses to not need to be pushed by a time limit - why put that sort of pressure on them and encourage poor performance?

Anyway, continuing our theme of time faults, we garnered 33 this time! No jump faults (woohoo!) and mare was a rock star the entire time. I thought some of the fences would spook her but she did great.

The course itself looked a bit like this:

You think I'm kidding....

Ok, FINE. in reality, it was a bit more like this.

Now, again, this was a Starter division. One outside line - period. It was like walking through a maze! Holy clusterup Batman. I did walk it three times and yes, three times is the key.

She wasn't quite listening to me the entire time but I kept her between my legs and made sure we had a controlled approach. She came back to me after every jump and that is what I was hoping to get out of this. This exposure is just what we need  - so I am thankful for these small shows.

We headed out of the arena and back to the trailer only to have AC wave us away from afar. She was just getting ready to start her dressage test and naturally we didn't want to risk Java losing her mind; she had been really good this whole time. We wandered back to the stadium arena and hung out until her test finished. (spoiler, she did great!)

Stay tuned for the finale, coming up next.


  1. Ughhhh the jigging drives me absolutely batty. My mare used to be a jigging snorting mess on the trails and no amount of pulling back would stop it, esp bc she could essentially jig in place (don't call it piaffe). That was maybe the worst part of it - her flat four beat walk is sooooo much faster than the jig so she was only really doing herself a disservice by jigging. I've heard before that lateral work can sometimes help break the cycle when they get like that... But sometimes it would just wind her up even more. Idk. Might be worth a try tho.

    Regardless - yay for stadium actually going pretty smooth!! The time thing blows my mind too for starter... But whatever. Sounds like you made a good choice in sacrificing time penalties for an otherwise pleasant trip!

    1. Yes! Same here. SO much faster at the walk. I did work on lateral stuff last night and it really helped. Maaaaaaaaaares.

  2. I'm still bummed I didn't know you were there. We all were only doing the jumper classes. Which had a much more friendly course than the CT BTW, weird. You most likely saw my youngest cantering her little white pony around ;). They are hard to miss lol. My oldest and I were hanging around the in gate. She still doesn't have a saddle that fits get new horse so we were saddle swapping between rounds. Anyways glad stadium went better than dressage. And if it makes you feel better steady is almost always "that horse" in any warm up ring.

    1. That was your white pony? OMG. I was so in love with him. He was ADORABLE - and so was his rider. Man, we were SO close to running into each other (intentionally, lol). We walked around near the in-gate for what felt like hours what with waiting on our course to start and for AC's test to end. SO CLOSE!

      How did you guys do? Did you have fun?!


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