U.S. Dressage Finals

This is a post from my horseforum.com thread that I started when I got Max. I’m so lucky the forum is still around and I was able to go back and add it to Lipizzan Life.

I have taken time off from online horse stuff. I felt like it was causing a lot of problems in my mindset toward riding. I’ve never succeeded in anything when I allow myself to look around at what other people are doing, and I couldn’t help but compare myself when I looked online! Even looking up solutions to whatever I was stuck on was just stressing me out. So, I took the advice of the little voice in my head, and dove into just being in the moment with horseback riding.

I went to the U.S. Dressage Finals at the Kentucky Horse Park. It’s not that I have tons of cash to go on vacations, it’s just that I live a few hours from a lot of venues, and it’s not that much $ for my trainer and I to take the weekend and split the bill. 

It was amazing!!! I not only saw the best horses and riders in the entire US, but my trainer took me all over the horsepark and showed me the inner workings of the beast. I saw everything from the stables, to the warmup rings, to the halls where the horses lined up. Seeing those huge warmbloods tacked up and lined up to go out to the ginormous show arena was something I’ll never forget. 

One thing that was encouraging was the variety of horse breeds at the competition. Of course there were lots of warmbloods, but I also saw an Appy and just regular cute looking horses that were having fun with their owners. I also saw a really cute, pretty horse breed there called a “Drum Horse”. It was so adorable! Maybe not the best mover, but it was there at the U.S. Finals for a reason!

Other highlights of the trip included walking around the horse park, visiting the horse museum, and seeing a demonstration by a trick horse trainer with his Frisian. I was a sucker for video taping the cute unique horses during their freestyles!

Since I got back from the trip, I’ve been working steadily on my riding and my trainer has been working steadily on getting Maximas ready for me to ride. I have a private lesson three days a week, and Maximas has his private lesson three days a week. We are so fortunate to have such an experienced and talented teacher at a ridiculous cut rate! 

I’ve moved from the indoor arena to the outdoor arena. The first time I did it, I got tired and almost bounced off my horse. Since then, I’ve gotten the hang of keeping in better control of both of us. I’m getting better about checking my diagonal and correcting it on my own. I don’t know all the terminology, so I might be describing this in a weird way. I learned to sit back and feel where her butt is, and keep her connected and moving forward from behind. I’m learning to maneuver her around things and over poles so that she has the space to go where I want her to go. 

My last lesson, my trainer told me that I should give the horse a breather since we were trotting pretty fast. I said “Fast? We were going fast? That felt kind of slow!” so she said that next week, she thinks I can try cantering! She had me practice two point. She said that’s how I stay off the horse’s back so I don’t get bounced off during the canter. So I am spending the weekend working out to make sure I am stronger come next week’s canter! 

Maximas is doing great too. He is off lunge line lessons and getting ridden for his lessons. I’ve been there for the last two, while my trainer rode him herself. The first one, he was pretty snarky. I was glad I wasn’t on him! This last lesson, though, he was a completely different cookie. He looked happy and comfortable, like he was figuring out his job and he wanted to do it the best he could. She said he never was taught to balance under a rider, and she also found out that he has some reaction like he’s been spurred as a punishment before. As with everything we’ve done so far, though, the more we show him our way of doing things and how it’s gentle and paced to help him succeed, he changes and blossoms into a better and better horse. 

My trainer said that “in the very near future” I’ll be able to come tack him up and ride him around the indoor arena when I want. We won’t be doing anything other than walking and trotting, but that’s what both of us need to get a little stronger and a little more balanced. 

Oh, and I also have been shopping way too hard for Maximas! Like OMG, way too much $$$, but it all is so satisfying to open up and use! It always looks way better on him than it did on the website where I bought it. 

I got him his winter blanket. It’s this lovely aqua blue color. He looks so smart in it! I also got my saddle. I had been working up the guts to fork over the money, and then it went on sale. Like super sale. It’s the New Bates Isabell, which is usually upwards of 3k, and I got it brand new for 2k from Dover. When does that happen? I haven’t sat in it yet, or put it on Maximas, so I’m going to do all that tomorrow. 

There’s the short version of everything that’s happened in the past few weeks. I’ll pick apart each topic and add pictures over the next few days.

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