Last weekend Biasini and I went to show at Blue Star Farm. This farm is only 15 minutes from the barn where Biasini lives and offers Equine Canada Bronze level dressage shows in two competition rings with an indoor warm up arena. I always take Biasini the day before as he is not a horse that you can just turn up with and sail down the centerline. So we trailer in on the Saturday and school and then show on the Sunday.
We arrive at noon and I take him for a lunge. This is not to tire him out but to allow him to express any nervousness he may have. After a circle or two of trot we pick up the canter and after a couple of canter circles I crouch down and wiggle the long whip and give some clucks. If he just speeds up a bit I can stop but if he leaps, or bucks then I know he needs a few more circles. I have never had to do more than 10 minutes total.
As part of my showing formula I increase his Omega Alpha Gastra FX to protect his stomach. I give him one syringe of that with a dose of RegenerEQ in it so both his stomach and hind gut are taken care of. I will also give him Gastra FX Plus paste just before I ride him. As the weather was very hot I added Equisel lite (recovery formula) to his feed at the end of the afternoon. These are all Omega Alpha products.
By mid-afternoon we are ready for the introduction to the show grounds. No matter how often he has been to a showground we always do this. My husband David is a vital help with a plastic jar of sugar cubes. He stands in the judge’s stand and I stop Biasini in front of the stand and he feeds him a sugar cube. We do this twice and then David stands at the C end of the arena, I come down the centerline and David feeds a sugar cube. At this time another rider and was having difficulty getting her youngster past the judge’s stand. I offered Biasini as lead horse and he obliged. My coach Belinda Trussell found it amusing that Biasini was now the brave one.
I was lucky to have my friend Erin Haug come first thing to give Biasini breakfast and a walk. When I arrived I did the lunge routine. It was a hotter day (32 Celsius) and I expected him to be calm. Nope! He picked up the canter and was fine for one circle then Whooo Hooo! Up went his tail and he was leaping and bucking. It took about three circles for him to work through that and then he was back to normal. I took him back to his stall and braided his mane. After that I fed him lunch and sat down myself for a sandwich and my hydration drink for hot weather…..chocolate milk. Yes. It’s the best. Studies have shown that milk takes longer to be processed in the body and hence the hydration stays with you longer.
Our ride time was 1:18pm. Belinda was there to assist me with my warm up. Biasini was going well but I could tell he was in “show mode” which means he is inclined to get strong. Belinda has really been encouraging me to increase the level of Biasini’s performance. She says: “He can go as a ‘nice’ horse or he can go as a ‘very special’ horse”. I knew it was up to me to bring out the ‘special horse’.
We cantered down the centerline for our Prix St. George test. We picked up the trot after the halt and salute. I kept my lower leg on to encourage him to come up in the frame and sit behind. Medium trot was a bit under paced but ok. Shoulder in, volte and half pass ok. He took a second look at the Blue Star Farm sign during the volte but did not do anything about it. On to the extended trot.
He flew across the diagonal but now I was on a freight train. I was struggling to keep him up and light. The shoulder in, volte and half pass right were ok. Onto the collected walk and walk pirouettes and extended walk across the diagonal. Extended walk was blah and I could not get his nose out enough but….the canter depart at K was marvellous; light aid and he lifted up in front and off we went. Canter half pass left was nice, change at X was late to my aids and the half pass right was, well….just a diagonal line! Argh! We did get the change at the end of it clean though. Then on to the canter pirouettes. First one good! But then an unasked for change! That was my fault and I knew it. When he is as sharp as he gets in the show ring I cannot move my leg or lighten my leg contact as he thinks I want a change. Quick….change back…then we can get the change at C. Got it. But now my brain was not as focused as it should have been and the pirouette right was too big. Much too big. No excuses this horse can pirouette on a dime. On to the fours. Clean. The threes. A mistake! Then the final diagonal in extended canter, Biasini’s favourite part. Half halt him up and he flies! I know from experience he will come back nicely. Clean change and down the centerline.
Not our worst test but not our best. I had not been quick enough to keep him up and light. I told Belinda I wanted to go back into the warm up arena for a quick revision and not leave on a note of him being strong and a bully. We did that and ended on a positive note.
I picked up my test. I looked at the score. 69.07% That was a Personal Best score for Biasini and me in the PSG. My first thought was that the judge was being kind to us. But later when I looked at the test sheet I could see that she had given us 4s on the canter pirouettes and rightly so. But good scores for other movements. For the collective marks we had 8 for paces and 8.5 for impulsion! I got a 9 for rider’s position and seat. I think that was generous but what the heck, I’ll take it.
So was this my Personal Best ride? Absolutely not. Was there improvement? Absolutely yes. I know what I need to practice. And that PB score? I’ll take it!