Pine Hill Derby Part 1

Saturday was an early morning. I was up at 4:15, pulled out of the barn at 5:15, and we were parked, unloaded, and Henry was happily munching his hay at Pine Hill by 7:30. I picked up my packet, dropped off the raffle items I’d brought (thanks Mango Bay and Majyk Equipe!), and slowly got Henry ready.

Nice quarter horse.

The morning was pretty cool with a little bit of a breeze, so I thought Henry might be a bit up. Yeah no. Our warmup was fine, but I was having some trouble motivating him enough to really get him pushing with the inside hind, especially to the left. When he finally did start pushing and connecting into the outside rein the quality of his trot improved tenfold, but I knew I’d have my work cut out for me in the ring.

It started so well, with an 8 for our first centerline. Spoiler alert: this was our highest mark of the test.

The good thing is, not so very long ago I had to ride my test as if I were sitting on a stick of dynamite. He’s still sensitive and tense at times (pretty much just in the walk and transitions these days), but overall I can ask for more now. Sometimes he responds, sometimes he doesn’t. He seems to have a particularly hard time in this arena because the corners are quite deep… we get bogged down a lot and he doesn’t want to go IN them at all.

I am the queen of the 15m oval

For the test itself he was obedient for the most part, but I got nothing on any of my lengthenings (he politely declined, thank you) and I kept losing his hind end a bit. The medium walk was shuffly and the free walk was hurried, both of which she really nailed me for. Ouch, double coefficient.

this is as lengthened as he got

On the plus side we at least got the one 8, and his other best scores (a 7.5 and two 7’s) were for things we’ve historically been shitty at – the stretchy trot and the canter/trot transitions. THAT part did make me pretty happy. Note to self, next time work on the walk and the lengthenings more in warmup, because ouch the 5’s hurt. Also – time to put the spurs on.

Either way, I was pleased enough with his test, because he’s still working light years better than he was last summer. If I could actually take some dressage lessons again at some point, it would probably really help. Or if he hadn’t had like 3 of the last 6 weeks off because my life has been nuts. Details.

If I had stopped squeezing, he’d have stopped cantering

The judge was not very charitable, but she scored everyone that way so it was fine. We got a 37, and the best score in either Training division was 33. Her comments were pretty spot on (and pretty detailed, for a dressage test). Yes our lengthenings were non-existent, yes the walk work was not good, yes he’s on the forehand a lot. Henry’s butt is literally 2″ higher than his withers and I still sit like a jumper convert, so we are no strangers to the forehand.

I love being done with dressage

While it definitely wasn’t our best test, it was also far from being our worst.  We were sitting in 6th after dressage in a fairly tightly packed group of scores, which is fine, I’ll take that.

Honestly if Trainer had let me withdraw and go home at this point, I would have. I was tired, and once I walked the jumping course and saw the down bank, I was pretty certain that we were toast. But we’ll cover all that tomorrow…

12 thoughts on “Pine Hill Derby Part 1

  1. That’s more comments than I usually get on a regular dressage test, nice! Haha. And it’s awesome that your high scores were your hardest movements, really speaks volumes to how far you guys have come and all the hard work you’ve put in. Can’t wait to read about the rest of the show!


    1. She was WORDY! And honestly I probably got better scores on the “hard” bits because I like… rode. It’s amazing how much better things work when you try harder.


  2. i like that the judge used a wide range of scores on your test – it kinda gives the feeling like she was really watching and taking each movement as it came with an open mind. i don’t mind harsh but accurate scoring at all, esp when it can point to specific areas for attention. as opposed to like, “harsh bc they simply did not care at all for the full picture” where you’re kinda just like, ‘well ok, i guess we just kinda suck at everything’ scores. ahem. not that i ever get those. cough cough.

    anyway looking forward to reading the rest!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I said the same thing, at least she used a range. How many tests do I have where everything is 6-7??? I don’t need charity as long as it’s fair across the board, so I appreciated how she did it (even if the 5’s hurt).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Not too shabby at all and definite win on the historically sticky spots scoring well. Nice to see hard work pay off in the eyes of a judge.


  4. That judge was not chairitable. She yelled at people, a 10 year old.. For going out of order when they had been told to do so. She scored my pony accurately, citing all the things he is struggling to overcome, but I was still a little deflated. She wasn’t wrong, but meh.. I don’t usually pick about judges but I was disappointed.


    1. I was deflated about my score (as was everyone) until I saw the rest of them. At least she was non-charitable across the board lol. And really I can’t argue much with her scores, she wasn’t wrong! She was just a bit stiff for a schooling show maybe. Granted, I didn’t see her yell at anyone… that’s not cool!


  5. Yay improvement on hard movements! I love how round Henry looks. Those with a tendency to be tense and tight backed loosen up so well there, just tends to make them go a touch downhill sometimes. Balances. Haha


    1. We’re in this kinda weird stage where quality wise he’s working SO MUCH better… like this is the first year he’s actually been truly connected in a test. We’d always just faked it before. But we’re not getting the scores yet to reflect the improvements, I think just because I have to learn how to ride this “new horse” better than I am, and figure out how to put the tests together better. We haven’t really been able to practice that very much yet, and it shows I think. That’s a much better problem to have, though!


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