Sunday, February 12, 2017

Dressage Babies

And by dressage babies, I'm referring to Casey and me. Just a forewarning... I am going to be talking about dressage in this post, a discipline that I am very new at, so I am probably going to use the wrong terms or just not know what I'm talking about. You have been warned...

Such dressage babies that this was our "good" attempt at coming straight down center-line. Yes, I know we aren't centered...

Since I obviously don't have enough stuff going on in my life... I decided to join my barn's dressage team! It was totally an impulse decision as Casey and I have ZERO official dressage training and we are totally under qualified to be on this team, but due to the set-up and situation we are able to be a part of it anyways.

We want to be part of the dressage team so that we can be fancy! (this is only partially in jest)
My barn's dressage team is for a worldwide online dressage competition called Dressage Anywhere. It is a British organization that runs monthly competitions in dressage in many levels, ranging from Intro level tests all the way to Prix? level tests (fancy stuff). You can compete as an individual or a team and there is no commitment to compete, you just get to compete as you wish. Basically you register for free and every month they post the test options. If you want to compete you have to film the test in your arena and then send in the video and the money to compete. The price to compete varies based on the level, but basically its $15-20 per test. You can compete in as many or as few tests in a month as you wish. If you are on a team, they take the top three scores from your team each month (meaning Casey and I will probably never have our scores counted towards the team as I doubt we will be in the top three).

Dressage Anywhere

Even though we are not actually a dressage pair, Casey and I have been learning snippets of dressage here and there. In our lessons, we have been learning basics and in my spare time I watch other people's dressage lessons. So even though we are not dressage-rs I feel as though we have potential to be. The test that we are going to be doing this month is the Intro level test. It is only walk and trot and is fairly easy. I'm going to be having my lesson on Tuesday night to film the test (so that I can submit the video), but I have been spending the past week preparing for it.

Our Intro Test

My way to prepare for the test is:

1. Learn it on paper. I printed out about 10 copies of a dressage arena and then sat down and drew out the test on paper (until I thought I kind of knew it).

2. Memorize test. Once I thought I knew the test, I then tested myself to see if I actually did know everything. If I could draw it out on the arena paper without having to refer to the test, then I knew it. (Note: You can have someone read the test to you, but since I wanted to practice on my own, I needed to memorize it).

I had to memorize it, so that we could practice it on our own!
3. Practice on horseback. Once I had the test memorized, I went to the barn and tried to run it through a few times with her. I'm glad that I did this on my own at first, because I made stupid little mistakes, or Casey would get confused about what I was asking her, and it gave us the chance to work out some of the major kinks.

4. Work on test with trainer (haven't done this yet). My plan for Tuesday is to go over the test with my trainer watching so that she can give me specific feedback. Once I've improved the test with her feedback I think we will be ready to film.

For instance, I need to ask trainer if this actually is a "working" trot, because I really don't know!
I'm not really nervous about this competition, because it's just for fun, it's reasonably cheap, and it's both my and Casey's first time ever doing a dressage test so I have really low expectations. I am planning to film in a private lesson rather than doing the whole team film time (because Casey gets amped with many horses around), but I think we'd be fine even filming with the others. I just want us to have fun and I am curious about what feedback the judges can give us.

Like, what will they tell us about how we can improve our trot?
I'm super excited to get to try a new discipline. I know that many hunter/jumper people are not at all into dressage and that many people find it boring, but I think that dressage is awesome, and even the little bit that I have learned has helped me tremendously in my riding and jumping. I'll let you all know how it goes on Tuesday!

Can it really go so bad when really it just means spending time with my horse?
Have you ever tried a new riding discipline? Which one? What did you think of it?

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