We're ~10 days out from our first dressage show. It is both very exciting and very intimidating!
Our recent work feels really good though. Grif is giving me his best each time we ride. Perhaps not the whole ride, but pieces of each ride display really wonderful moments.
When I look back on our first work that was loosely dressage-focused two years ago and compare it to now, the differences in Griffin are striking:
He is so much more balanced through his body, steadier in the contact, and working through his hind end more than he once did. Funny what a little bit of time and focused effort will do.
I was honestly surprised watching the video after this little workout. I knew he felt better and his transitions were relatively fluid and he was steadier in the contact than in the past. But despite knowing those things, some part of me just figured I was inflating the good feelings to be bigger than the reality.
|And more trotting...|
I've discussed the video this post's media revolves around with Austen to glean pointers and homework. We've been focusing on those things since and I definitely feel improvements in the short time since.
I don't know that we're ready for the show. But I don't know that we're not ready either.
See, I'm an endurance rider first. My background is all in conditioning for endurance. Feeling "ready" for an endurance ride meant that I was confident my horse could complete the distance with plenty of "go" left in the tank at the end.
Dressage - especially at the level we are pursuing - definitely isn't the same as endurance! Griffin doesn't need to be in the absolute most peak condition. He needs to be attentive and have a good mind that is ready to work; he needs to be responsive to the aids when I use them; he needs to be able to maintain a steady rhythm within each gait; he needs to show some semblance of bend in his circles; he needs to demonstrate straightness; his transitions should be calm.
When I rearrange my thought process to check in with each of the above points, Griffin is very close to achieving all of those things right now. So, uh, I guess we're ready?
|And even walk to canter departs sometimes....|
The biggest wild card with our entry into the world of showing is simply the time and miles that come with travel.
Grif has traveled very little so far in his career. He's been to a small local show, a few endurance rides, and one dressage clinic. As with most horses, when you plop them down in the center of a formerly-unknown environment, he's a bit frazzled! Things that aren't scary at home are scary at the new place, horses he doesn't know he MUST talk to and try to make friends with, and the general hustle and bustle around him garners more of his attention than he'll give to me.
None of these things are surprising and none are too crazy. They're very typical of a horse who has spent most of his time working from home.
And so, knowing Griffin won't be the horse he is at home, I have very low expectations for the actual show.
|Counter canter may unintentionally debut in our tests...|
I'm confident he has the pieces needed to succeed, but I have no idea if he'll be able to be present when the judge is watching to put those pieces together when I ask.
And you know what? That's okay. We've got to start somewhere. It probably won't be pretty at first, but if I ever want to achieve my goals, we have to get out there and give it our best. I know from experience with Q at endurance rides that it WILL get better. Time and miles (both literally and figuratively) fix most problems.
|And he's capable of a flying change...now to do it on purpose?|
Grif, let's just strive to stay inside the sandbox - anything else is gravy. Can you handle that?