"Nice first impression - good pace transitions - nice 270. Back average: more body/less hand - slow set up. Line drifted in back to set up. Pos - inspection." Score: 16.5 The winner had a 17.
She also mentioned I need more consistent 45 degree angles during inspection and commented that it was the slow set up that really kept me behind the winner. I'm not sure how to fix that. On Thursday he absolutely refused to set up. He knows the cue, sometimes he does it on auto-pilot and sometimes he's infuriatingly stubborn about it. In fact I starting writing an angry blog post about how he was completely ignoring the halter pressure cues and there was nothing I could do. He just planted his feet wherever he wanted and refused to move his feet. I tried making him back up and go forward again but he kept refusing to set up square. I tried chasing him in a circle to remind him who's boss, but he just wouldn't do the set up. The dressage whip in my hand was a dangerous item considering my temper, but thankfully there were lots of kids in the arena so I was able to keep my head. Then of course I felt guilty and deleted the post. Once I was hom and calmer (thank you, Pinot Grigio) I thought about it more rationally and remembered he did seem back sore when I tried to ride him, he felt all crooked and I couldn't get him to keep his back round (that's why I switched to showmanship) so it is possible he could just have been uncomfortable standing square. I watched some dressage instruction about the square halt and it became clear that the goal of the square halt is that the horse is so even/symmetrical that it naturally stops square and that a crooked horse cannot stop square... duh... sometimes I miss the obvious. So I called his wonderful chiropractor/massage therapist and left a message asking for an appointment. We've ridden more in the last week than we have since November so I can't be surprised he's sore too. I know I am.
I guess I need to drill it and drill it and drill it, but it's so hard with him because he gets bored easily and the square halt isn't nearly as fun as playing the move-my-feet-around-randomly-until-she-gets-REALLY-pissed-off game. So I don't really know how to reward him when the "release" isn't as rewarding as continued punishment. Know what I mean? Got any ideas? We know treats are out. They last thing we need is him mauling me for treats in the show ring.
I rode him yesterday and he seemed just fine. We just trotted along smoothly and then we did a lap or two of a canter and included a lope over a pole. It all felt very smooth and effortless, the total opposite of Thursday. The trail bridge was in the outdoor so we went over that a few times. He was so good and so chill that I quit very early as a reward and then did several carrot stretches. I swear sometimes I'm an unwilling participant in some horrible reality show where there is actually an untrained clone of my horse that the swap out at random.
I'm hoping to do the Adult Showmanship and the Jackpot Showmanship for this last Fuzzy Fun on Film Horse Show, but it's going to be a rather busy week at work and I might not be able to devote the time or find someone to video me.
Here are the two patterns if you want to play along at home, and I KNOW some of you do showmanship! You should do it! Deadline is March 31, more info HERE.