Sunday, June 28, 2009

We're Back And Doing GREAT!

I came back from my business trip a little later than I had hoped which meant I missed my lesson on Tuesday. I rode Toby on Wednesday for a very short ride. It was in the high 80's by 10am and he showed he remembered where we left off. So for 10 minutes we did a "remember this" type of work that had us both dripping sweat from the heat. We stopped after he demonstrated he remembered and we both enjoyed being hosed off for a change.

Betsy arranged for a riding lesson on Friday for me. The weather had cooled down to more seasonable conditions and Toby was wonderful. He quickly went into a nice frame with no arguments, he was working from his hind end and he was holding his frame for a long time. At one point he was OUTSTANDING and Betsy said it's the best she's seen him go yet. We were ready for our show on Saturday! At least I hoped so.

The show went very well for us. We were FAR better than our first show and Toby made me so proud. I had sent an email to a friend on facebook describing in detail about the show. So here is what happened during the show in detail as I wrote in that email:

We did GREAT! We are riding in Intro level which is perfect for both of us as first timers. We scored 61% and 61.4% in our tests, up from 56.1% and 56.4%. Huge improvements! He gave me one giraffe moment but otherwise he was very settled, focused and gave me everything he's got. He seems to enjoy the work!

Toby was a "hot" horse in the hunter/jumper world and I think that's a result of him not having a lot of confidence on what was expected of him. They didn't praise him like we do now while we ride. He really responds to praise! When you tell him "good boy" and give him a pat on the neck, it's as if he says "oh! I can do better just look!" It cracks me up.

So we went into the ring and he had no anxiety, no issues just workman like behavior. The arena was narrow so the corners were really tight when we came off the center line in particular. I didn't do a very good job of riding him into those tight corners in our first test. The 2nd test I did a much better job (much more inside leg/outside rein) and it showed. He's a L-O-N-G horse so tight corners are not so easy. At one point in our 2nd test, we were going along the rail and I asked him for a little bend to the inside which he turned into a full engagement from behind, stretch out his neck and into the bit. I broke into a huge grin! He just went from "working" to "performing" and I was elated! He was engaged in the hind end before but all of a sudden he really put his heart into it.

He's only been doing dressage since Jag passed in March and he's coming along so wonderfully. I didn't think he had it in him because he's always been so lazy but boy has he proven me wrong! ok - so he is a bit lazy when we go into the walk but we can work on that. We also need alot of work with "going down the center line and halt at X". It's the worst thing we do. But we will work on that and continue to work on holding his frame longer.

I'm just so happy happy happy with our progress!

I had to borrow a friends truck and trailer to get to the show. They needed their truck in the afternoon so I couldn't stick around for the awards. But Betsy called me to say team Toby and Wendy cleaned up! We won both our classes AND the award for "Best Off The Track" horse. I was pretty psyched because we had tougher competition this time. Even though I KNOW it's about competing against myself, I can't help myself and get excited when we win!

On Tuesday, Betsy will bring the notes from the judge so we can see what she had to say. I love that in dressage you get notes so you can see exactly how you were judged and what you need to work on. It's a great learning tool.


  1. That IS wonderful improvement -- congratulations to both of you!

  2. Congratulations Wendy and Toby!! Sounds like "Team U" is getting with the program. I like the "Best Off The Track" award, too--congrats on winning that as well. I love OTTBs because they DO like to work and they do love praise. My horse does the same thing when you tell him he's a good boy: Gives you a little more--a little quicker--next time you ask. Good post!!