Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Riley at Devon 2010: Return to the Dixon Oval

It's September and Riley returned to Devon for  second tour of the Dixon Oval. The weather held out, despite predictions of 90% rain. It was hard to video from ringside (horses in class obscured the view), and a gentleman standing next to me was amiably chatting and asking questions while I tried to watch. I gave up on the video and just watched -- what I have is below.

My big focus was keeping up Riley's energy level. As Felicitas VN said, you get a certain amount of time and then you run out of quarters. My trainer had back-to-back classes, which we knew early on. With no warmup, I hoped Riley would have an extra spark, but as I walked him around the schooling ring he was an old soul, relaxed and taking it all in. My trainer came out of the ring, we swapped horses, and back in she went.  Riley looked like a horse starting work -- it took him a few minutes to start to shine. And the class went so fast! Anyway, my trainer showed off his strengths, he performed well, and I was very proud.

Get'er done at Devon
I have to say a word about my trainer -- and the word is ENERGY. She made it all happen. No bragging, no complaining, no mention of how much work this all was -- but I saw her prep and take two horses to Devon with no groom. It was pretty much non-stop-foot-on-the-gas, yet she was tireless.

My thought on witnessing this first hand?  Whew.

Come to think of it, I guess that sums up the past few days, generally. Whew!


    1. Riley looks good and beautifully behaved. No matter what you should be proud to have such a level headed, nice, talented young horse. I just keep thinking back to all the heartache with his injury and am in awe to see him doing so well in the show arena. That is a major accomplishment.

    2. Well he certainly looks as if he belongs there! Very well turned out too! You must be very proud.

    3. Jean is right, so nice to see Riley doing so well after what he went through. So glad he was a good boy! He looks absolutely beautiful.

    4. Oh man... total lack of a warm-up? That's brutal. You have so much more grace and class than I do. I wouldn't have handled that scenario well. In any case, Riley looks magnificent! And you should be extremely proud of you, Riley, his team of vets, everybody that got you both to this point in time. Huge accomplishment!

    5. I am so happy for you also. Can you please refresh my memory on how he placed?

    6. In a class of 13 horses, he didn't place :-). I knew from watching the class that he wouldn't, not so much because the other horses were so nice (they were) but because he wasn't in top form. He had a pretty outline, he had the sweetest face :-), but the movement, esp. at the trot, wasn't there. It may be a stage of his growth, or it may be that he'll have to work for the kind of trot that comes naturally to top dressage horses. Time will tell!

    7. I don't know, sometimes the difference between what is considered a "top dressage" trot and another, less extravagant or less knee-y trot seems to me purely aesthetic. What I mean is, if two horses are equally supple, strong, and correctly working, the choice between the two seems to be based on subjective preference, not on evidence that horse A or B is actually working better.

      Personally, I like the light, easy, athletic trot of your lovely horse. He pats the ground so softly and moves with great rhythm and natural grace. Perhaps the trend will move towards lightness/softness over bombastic and elastic at some point.

    8. I'm no expert, but here is what I'm seeing in my boy. If you let him drop his poll a bit (not curl), he relaxes through the body a bit more and you see freer movement/relaxation. When you ask for more lift through the shoulder, he works harder, and he gives it to you. But I think the effort makes him a little more tense through the body. He's so short-backed, i think it's easier for him to tense through the back. I see this as a phase, not a flaw. What do you think?

    9. Stacey - I think you're right about it being a phase.

      My horse is extremely short-backed, and has trouble with too much tension for the same reason. He actually has improved due to repeated minor injuries (kicking fences, casting himself, etc.) which have caused me to do more long and low and less lifted in front. Now he's naturally lifting in front without the same tension due to all the stretchy work, and he has started offering a much more showy trot, as well as started offering extension without my asking for it yet.

      Whether it's growth, training, strength, whatever for Riley - he should improve as he goes.

    10. I see what you see as well in your vids, Stacey. He seems to move more freely when his poll is lower, probably because the shifting to the hind legs that the higher poll requires is harder work, and therefore he cannot yet do it with the same expression.

      He is still so young! There is plenty of time to develop the trot. I am working with my three year old who came installed with an 8 walk, 5 or 6 trot and a 7 canter (when he's relaxed). I'm thankful the "hole" is his gaits is in the one gait that training can improve the most! Riley's trot is already nice, and there is so much possibility for improvement. Working to improve the gaits, and watching them change, is part of the fun.


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