Monday, July 8, 2013

Sounding Board

This week marks one year of partnership with Rijkens.  In many ways he still feels like my "new" horse but in so many aspects it also feels like we were meant to be and have been partners for a long time.  I've managed to make it to two recognized shows and one schooling show in the year I've owned Rijkens.  Each test I've ridden, Rijkens has either won the class or earned another score toward my bronze medal.  I'm pleased.

At the beginning of 2013 I sat down and wrote out some goals, then put them in Rijkens' tack trunk:
Since we are half way through 2013 and one year into our union, here's a sounding for where we stand:
  • We need one more score of 60 or above at third level to complete my bronze medal, then we can begin working toward our silver medal.
  •  We have one of four scores needed to qualify for AHHA All Breeds and/or HOY at third level.
  • Our trainer Karen Brown will show Rijkens next month at FEI for the first leg of qualifying for Finals (two scores needed) and the Master's Challenge Award (three scores needed).  
 At this point I've had to re-adjust my goals.  Third level is fun and harmonious, and we're doing well, but it's not been the walk away that I thought it would be to get my last third level score.

The plan going forward is to school through FEI while concentrating my show efforts at third level until I finish my bronze medal.  Meanwhile Karen will campaign Rijkens at Prix St Georges.  This will be accomplished at our upcoming Houston Dressage Society Laborious Day 1 and 2 shows August 31 - September 1. 

Marching ever forward, today we had an excellent schooling session.  Thirty minutes of strengthening/suppling exercises followed by ten minutes of high quality tricks and movements.  It's the work-a-day maneuvers that reach goals, while the occasional six minutes in front of a judge remain good sounding boards of our progress.

As always it's the journey we're on that counts: dressage is not an end to itself but rather a means to an end, with the endpoints of interest being improvement of Rijkens' gaits and physique, and improving our understanding and execution of the movements so that Rijkens becomes increasingly influence-able, willing, and sound.