Saleem and I were at a dressage competition yesterday, along with our friend LHK and her mare Louvre. Yep, ordinary horses, not an Arabian show. Which means that I expected to get beaten, big time. I have to admit though, I kind of like the judge what were judging us yesterday, I always felt that she evaluated Apollon fairly back in the day, so I was a bit curious about what she would think of Saleem.
It was close by where we live, so the trailer ride was rather easily done with. Much more importantly, Saleem loaded easily. (Wuhu! Training might be paying off, at long last?)
The warm up was chaotic, really. Loads of huge, brown horses, with legs flying everywhere and necks bent out of shape so no one could see where they were going, least of all Saleem and me. I won’t lie, that was no fun at all. I did try to keep Saleem at a walk when the warm up was crowded and only trot and canter if I could see that there was room for us, without Saleem feeling squished between all those strange horses.
Missing Apollon a little. He was small and red too, but he would simply explode, kick and buck and make sure everyone on the warm up knew to keep their distance… Saleem would never dream of that. He just shakes his head in frustration. Which he did a lot, yesterday.
Still, he is a fantastic nice and easy horse to bring along. He takes everything in stride, he doesn’t spook over the judges, or the audience, or the other horses (unless they steamroll him,) or kids playing, or cars, or whistles, or dogs and he didn’t even call that much for Louvre when they were separated. All in all, this horse could have a very bright future as a show horse, just because he handles most of it so well, and whatever problems we encountered are problems I can work with at home. Like his headshaking.
I have to say, I hardly notice anymore. It doesn’t bother my riding. Yep, so he flicks his head once in a while, when he is not focused on me, and in his defense, there was a lot of things to steal some of his attention yesterday. What I am jumping for joy about is when he stays with me.
A year ago, I did notice when he shook his head, because it unbalanced him, nearly tripped him, and completely ruined any idea of collection.
Now, it is just a thing he does to let out some steam. It doesn’t unbalance him anymore, it doesn’t trip him, and he stays collected.
He is not even off -beat…
Besides, of all the horses I saw yesterday, it was very few who had read the rules for the competition, which clearly states that the head must be in an “unforced position.” I wouldn’t trade any of those horses for Saleem. He is my perfect, perfect young man and we have come SO far.
It did bother me a little though, how much he felt the need to shake his head yesterday. I will be taking that into account. Mostly because he had two modes yesterday. One, where he was perfectly fine, just perfect, perfect, perfect, (on my scale,) and one where he just couldn’t stop rotating his head. I must admit, I am not exactly sure what brought on that much stress, because he seemed perfectly fine, except for that one thing. It is this one thing, I must not ignore though, and I won’t. knowing me, I probably won’t sleep, until I have figured out exactly what happened, momentarily, to make him regress into what he was a year ago.
So, we rode an Lc3, which we did at an Arabian show last year as well. Back then, he was not exactly ready for the program then, and we missed the entire canter part. So now, a year later, at an ordinary show, meaning harder judging, I was aiming for getting the same score as I did last year. And we did. Exactly. So far so good.
Then we rode our very first La1, and here I knew I would have my ass handed to me, because any horse that is not a little hyper flexed, (sorry, it’s true,) can’t score points on that level. So, I was aiming for beating Apollon’s first score in his first La1, which was 50.00%
Saleem and I scored 50.74% Yep, I kind of know the judges by now and the game. And yes, I am playing it, since I show up, but I am not playing to win. I am playing to give my horse a good day, to show people that you can do it differently, and to have fun with my friends and our horses. And a show like this one I am riding for the experience, because clearly I still have things to learn about Saleem and his headshaking and we are set to go to an Arabian show next month, where I kind of would like him to have a fighting chance… So now I am wondering if he should go, what I should do differently, and how to figure out what triggered his head yesterday… I think I’ll go ask him now.
Here is a cell phone video of our first La1, and yep, his head is flicking a lot, and yes, I lose his balance at the very end, but all in all, this is my very own superstar! Not what the judges want to see, not want most people expect to see, (I did hear quite a few remarks from the audience,) but I will never be ashamed of a program like this one.
He usually doesn’t flick his head like that anymore. The shows we were at last year, he didn’t either. I’ll have to mull that over for a while… Before I run off to tell him how wonderful he is, I will have to make one thing clear. I DO mind that he flicks his head. Not because it ruins my score, but because he is stressed when he does that. Or over excited. Or both. I will have to do better for him, somehow.
As for LHK and Louvre, they scored almost the same as Saleem and me in the La1, when you compared the critiques, which felt a tiny bit unfair. Especially since the judge had noted that Saleem was “violently un- submissive,” (yep that is what you get for flicking your head…) and she had noted that Louvre was “a bit long.”
Well… like I said, not hyperflexed horses, do not stand a chance. Looking at Louvre’s neckline, I dare say, it’s a long horse. Raising her by the rein and pulling her head up and in, that would hardly be an “unforced position,” would it?
Usually I don’t bother to bitch about judges, but I truly don’t understand how you can score the same 4,5 points for “violently un-submissive” and “a bit long.” In my world, “a bit long” should have earned her a point or two more than the one that was way off base… but what do I know.
We had a great time. Thanks Lotte, Amalie, Aston and Jonathan.
Most of all, thanks Saleem and Louvre.