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May : Mission Accomplished Part One

As you may know if you’re a regular reader, I set some pretty big goals for myself and my horses this year. The biggest by far was to obtain the scores necessary for earning my USDF Silver Medal on my self trained draft cross, Sir William. I’m not going to lie, it was harder than I thought. The big changes that he and I made in our training when we moved down here made big time scores at third level a breeze and earned the last two scores for my Bronze in our first outing last season. A part of me knew that this wasn’t going to be as easy, but the other part really hoped that it would.

My fourth level scores were great for both of our first times at the level, and right on par with how we were being judged at third level. It gave me high hopes for the PSG scores. Unfortunately, I soon realized that I was kidding myself. Our changes in series weren’t solid enough yet and neither were our pirouettes. Ever the stubborn Italian girl, I didn’t give up. I kept going, again and again without actually digging out the root of the changes problem (here’s a hint: it was me). I met with my trainer, Felicitas von Neumann-Cosel, in March and she told me that he needs to get over his anticipation of changes on the diagonal line and to work them more, not to be afraid of it. As I did this change work consistently little by little I really started to ride them better. I began to half halt at the correct moment to set him up for the next change, he started waiting for me rather than spouting off his own random numbers and then eventually the lines got cleaner and prettier. We still had bumps to work out in April but after another session with Felicitas in May a whole new world opened up for the canter work.

We spent a lot of time working on timing the give after a half halt and truly pushing him out to the bit, not just running around wildly while hoping it counted as going forward. There were moments where the canter became so light and the reins so soft that I might have uttered a few expletives. It made sense and it added the final polish to the huge changes we had made just in time for our last show. The show at Poplar Place Farm (in Hamilton, Georgia) was probably the best he has ever felt and, I think, the best I have ever ridden him. I rode him forward in all gaits to the bit. The warm up without running and I gave the reins more than I hung on and darn it if he didn’t look fantastic. There were 8’s all over my tests, some for flying changes, pirouettes and extended work were brilliant because of it. 65.9% and 67.5% in the PSG ensured our Silver. We have a whole new mountain to climb with this new work we’ve been given but it continues to feel good. I’m hoping to hit another goal at our next show in June when we will get another chance for a qualifying score. Here’s looking toward the USDF Regionals this year for PSG!

Be sure to check back next week for May : Mission Accomplished Part Two "Hagrid"!

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