Since Saturday I’ve been formulating a plan for getting things on track to be more competitive at our next western dressage adventure. K and I both enjoy being scored objectively and having ride times at the dressage show, and want to see what we can do to improve our performances for the next go around.
My first order of business is to continue to battle the ulcer in Paige’s eye and to find the cause of her soundness issues. I haven’t been on her since the show and I’ve just kind of tossed her out to take a break from everything. I still pull her in to medicate her eye, but I’ve pulled her off the oral banamine in an effort to get an idea of where the lameness is originating and I’ve yet to see her become more lame in the pasture, so I’m going to have to pull her in and work her to see it I believe. Either way, despite Paige’s previous distaste with chiropractic work, she’s going to get another visit from her this year just to see if something like that might be contributing. Obviously if she’s still lame the vet will be summoned as well. I’m also going to start her on some supplements…she is aging and will need some extra support. Any suggestions?
The second thing we’re going to do once Paige is sound and not in any way injured, is to begin lessons! I’ve had a dressage instructor in mind for a few years now, but the price to have her come to the farm to just teach me wasn’t affordable (she lives between 45mins-1hr away) and I didn’t have a trailer at that point. I’ve previously tried to gather friends to take lessons with me, but, despite their enthusiasm, I was never able to nail down when they would be able to take lessons. Now that I have K in my life, things like this are more doable. She’s easily the least flaky horse friend I’ve had in my life and planning things goes well, despite the fact that she and I work opposite hours. Hopefully between chiro and lessons, we can figure out our counter bending issues. The other thing we need to discuss in lessons is getting Paige to accept contact from the bit without dropping her head like a pleasure horse. You’ll note in the pics from Saturday that Paige went around with her head up a lot…that’s because I said from the get go that I wasn’t touching her face all day. I’d rather her head be up than between her legs or behind the vertical because I’m asking for contact. There are literally thousands of other things I need professional help with that lessons will be instrumental for as well.
The third thing we’re planning on is more hauling (in addition to lessons). I’ll haul Paige to K’s to ride in her arena, we’ll haul both horses to outside arenas, etc. Getting these two out together and separately will be very helpful when we’re working through the withdrawals they experience during tests. These events will give me more experience with hauling as well. K did all the driving Saturday because honestly I didn’t want to experience double the nerves. Nerves from showing and nerves from driving/pulling the trailer. Hopefully with some passenger seat coaching I’ll get more hauling under my belt.
And finally, the fourth improvement that I think will help our scores is utilizing the warm up. Between paranoia regarding Paige’s lameness and the helmet rule, we were at a disadvantage as far as warming up was concerned. On a normal day, should Paige be herd sour to this degree, there would’ve been LOTS of circles trotted to screw her brain back in. It’s seldom loose enough that this won’t solve all of our problems, but where she wasn’t 100% at this show physically, the last thing I was going to do was execute a bunch of circles to find her brain and then lose her soundness. I know that regardless of her mental state, she’s not going to try to launch me, so it just seemed in our best interests to wing it this time. That won’t happen next again. 😉 Also, K will have her own helmet for the next show so there will be less worrying about that as well.
Hopefully theses things will help us be more successful at the next show. I’d like to score solidly over 60% at the next show and I’d prefer to not have any 4.5’s on my score sheet, which can be (hopefully) avoided if we fix her buddy sourness, our counter bending, and my geometry skills. 😉