Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Double Debut

(The barn aisle at 10 pm, when I'm finally about to ride.)

Dante has been going again for a couple of weeks now, and has even had his first jump school since Jersey! The 100+ degree heat has been tough to work in, particularly because I have to be at my internship at 7 am. This leaves me to ride in what is often the hottest part of the day, 7 pm. So instead I have been going home and relaxing for a few hours, then venturing out to the barn after 8 and riding in the dark. While it helps immensely, it is still hot! In good news, Dante feels very sound and his heels are continuing to dry out and become less sensitive every week.

Before the thrush reared it's ugly head, we had progressed far enough that I decided it was time to stick Dante back in the snaffle he uses for dressage. Wow, was he awful. And as he was awful, I resorted to all those terrible habits that I have, rounded shoulders, long reins, etc. He was stiff as a board to the left, leaning downhill, and unresponsive to my aids. I was NOT happy at the time.

At that point, I decided I was going to try out the double again. He's never been great in the snaffle, particularly to the right where he resists by hollowing in his poll. He also LOVES to lean on me. I've tried the double before, and while he wasn't terrible in it, he would have moments of fussiness, enough to convince Mike and I that it wasn't for him.

Well, I decided he was just going to have to get used to it. He used to be fussy in his jump bit as well, and now he loves it, so I had reason to believe that once he was used to the double bridle, he would be fine. So I stuck him in it.

And of course, the horse loved it.

He was light, responsive, supple, and steady. Guess we're going to be using that from now on. I'll be testing it out in a show environment though before the two star. I've been riding in it since he's gotten back to work, and he's been really excellent in it.

Of course, this means I now have to go through the joys of purchasing one. I've been borrowing Bonner's for now, but Jessica is going to lend me hers to use for the AECs. I want to try it in a show environment first, to make sure he doesn't flip his lid before I shell out $500+ to buy the bits/bridle/reins.

I've also been working on getting myself back into the sitting trot shape. I have always had trouble with the sitting trot, particularly when I haven't ridden for a while. So right now, I am doing posting to warm up Dante, cantering to warm up my body, and then doing a little bit of sitting trot at a time, posting or walking when I feel my or his rhythm alter. Usually it's mine. All of my lateral work is done at the end in a posting trot, because I'm not yet fit enough to both sit rhythmically and communicate strongly enough for lateral work. Give it a few weeks, and I'll be much more effective.

Obviously, our show schedule has changed a bit. Originally, we planned to head to Michigan at the end of the month for Richland Park, then to Georgia at the end of September for Poplar and up to Maryland for Fair Hill CCI**. Unfortunately, losing those two weeks was tough enough in terms of fitness that it seems like a better idea to head to Galway in the beginning of November. That made a six week gap between Poplar and Galway, and no good prep show between. Greenwood is one week after Poplar, and Holly Hill is one week before Galway, so neither works as a prep. Meadowcreek is at the right time, but doesn't offer Intermediate, and also isn't my favorite show to go to, due to the fact that it either POURS or the ground is wicked hard.

At that point, I started reconsidering Poplar as well as Richland, and decided to aim for Greenwood instead as my final prep before Galway. Although it's five weeks out from the two star, Dante has never been one to need a ton of prep shows to run a tremendous cross country, and his dressage is usually best around the third show of the season anyways.

In the end, I've decided to head for the AECs as my first prep show of the season. It will be a tough championship course to ride as the first show, but Richland would have been tough as well. I don't have any intention of winning because well, Dante's dressage is definitely not the best at the first show of the season, and we'll be competing against a bunch of really nice horses and riders. We also aren't going to rock around cross country in our usual style because Dante does have hoof issues with sore heels due to thrush. Better to conserve his soundness for the two star.

So this fall, we'll have AECs, Greenwood, and Galway to prove ourselves. I can't wait to get back on the show scene.

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