Monday, October 24, 2011

BLM Finals, 2011

On October 12, we loaded up Secret, Flash, Basil and James, along with their accompanying humans, and headed to the Garden State Classic/BLM Finals at NJ Horse Park.  Secret and I were slated for the 3rd level Championship, Flash was entered in training level to continue learning to show, and Basil was making his dressage debut.

Living here in Region 1, so close to the boarder of Region 8, we have our pick of championship shows to attend. It seems like every year, either BLM Finals or Region 1 gets rained on. For the past few years, I’ve luckily picked the dry show. Not this year.

 This was Saturday, after the footing had  a day to dry out.
The mud is still up to her coronet band.
After all of the careful planning, calculated training agendas, well-timed shoeing and massage appointments, etc., Secret’s score in the championship class was determined by Mother Nature.  Thursday night the show grounds were flooded with rain, leaving the competition rings a slurry of sandy mud. 

Secret hates mud. Mud makes her tense.  Tension makes her over-reactive. She hates mud on her tummy. So she goes faster. She hates mud on her nose.  So she holds her neck high and tight, like the knight in a game of chess.

Again from Saturday. Chess piece neck, but still a
recognizable half-pass, even from the side.
Needless to say, being ran away with by an over-reactive chess piece isn’t exactly the dressage ideal, so her championship ride didn’t work out like we had hoped.  The judges comments were kind, and the scores were appropriate.   

The neat thing is Secret had one of her championship judges again the next day in her two open classes. As the footing dried out, Secret’s relaxation improved, and so did her scores.  Having the same judge 3 rides in a row, with each ride being very, very different,  and seeing that reflected in the scores tells me that the judge judged what she saw each ride.  As a competitor, I can’t ask for anything more. 

By Sunday, Mother Nature had returned Secret’s sunshiny personality, and her score was back up where it has been all season.  With the exception of the championship class, Secret placed well against the warmbloods, bringing home a fifth and two thirds. 

Check it out - completely airborn.
Flash, on the other hand, seems to be a mudder.  Her reaction to the mud on her tummy was to bounce higher.  Linda caught an awesome photo of Flash with all four feet off of the ground.  Her bouncing brought home the a red ribbon.

Unfortunately, Flash put so much into bouncing out of the mud that her back became more and more tired as the weekend progressed.  Her back fatigue showed in her scores, which weren’t as high as the last show, but she was much more ridable in every class, which is no small feat for the turbo-pinto mare.  She was also much more relaxed overall  at this show—we could ride every class without needing a ring-side equine baby sitter.  Flash has really learned how to show this season. I’ll focus on getting her back stronger over the winter, and we’ll see what next season brings.

It's a little out of focus, but what an amazing canter!
Basil didn’t compete until Saturday, and by then Friday’s blustery wind had dried the footing considerably.  He is a super young man, with a laid-back workman-like personality and a body built for dressage. He handled all of the show chaos like a seasoned veteran, and was obedient and willing in both tests. He scored mid 60’s in both classes, tying for second on Saturday and bringing home blue on Sunday.  Rebecca and Dennis bred Basil as a family project. The pride in their eyes at watching their baby grow up was really fun to be a part of.

SFD students have also been rocking the show ring recently.  Rebecca and James ended a strong first season with a good BLM show, Kristen and Clyde brought home red from the Thorncroft event, Alexa and Mi Alma had a great ride at Devon and were FCDA intro level and thoroughbred champions, Jess and Mo brought home ribbons from FCDA, and I’ve heard rumors that Paige aboard Maggie and Ericka aboard Stella have been cleaning up over fences.  Plus I can’t forget Bethany and Willy who have been tearing it up at the medieval mounted games events.  Dressage cross trains into other disciplines so well, but more of that in a later blog. I have asked several students to write a few paragraphs; I’m sure we’ll hear from them soon.   

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