Training 1 and 2

Olivia   October 2, 2017   16 Comments on Training 1 and 2

This weekend we returned to the JK presents schooling show at our local horse park. I went in with a very specific plan: to school. And I do mean school. After our last few shows, I wanted to take Levi into a dressage ring and then be willing to throw the whole thing and actually correct any issues. Before my first test, I went over to the judge and warned her that I planned to school things and I might make some extra circles or re-start movements and would she mind not ringing the bell on me. She warned me I’d still have to take the error points and I said, absolutely; I expect to. I fact, I plan on coming in dead last.

I was so caught up in my plan that I kinda forgot the first halt. Oops. That wasn’t actually part of my plan and I totally forgot about it until making the turn to centerline at the end. I’m gonna call that eventer brain. Anyway…

Enter at A, forget to halt at X

The test started out okay. We got a 6 for our first circle with the comment of “needs steadier rhythm and bend.” Fair enough:

Our first canter wasn’t super pretty, but it wasn’t too bad. I definitely need to stop leaning forward into canter. Comment was “leaning into circle and needs better bend.” Both of those we my fault. I kinda forgot to stere while asking for canter.

Our canter to trot transition was downhill, but no worse than usual. Walk transition was a bit tense as he really didn’t want to walk and we got “needs relaxation.” Agreed.

Our free walk felt better than it looks in the pictures, but he was rather distracted. 

Then we turned right and things went downhill. Like most horses, Levi really struggles with going right. As we started our first right circle, Levi was being a brat. He really didn’t want to listen to my leg and was getting annoyed at my heel nagging him. In hindsight I should have swapped my crop. At the time, I just dug in and turned him into a llama.


But you know what happens when you’re committed to throwing your test? You can do another circle. And we did. And it was much better than the first though I have no photographic evidence of such. We carried on and as we came around to do our right lead canter transition, Levi exploded into it and then proceeded to buck (sadly the camera cut off at the start of the buck, but you can see it coming).

This was perfect. He had tried it once in warm up then stopped after I got after him. I’m pretty sure he’s figured out that I won’t really address attitude in the court. But this time I could. So we went back to trot, trotted around the circle back to A and asked for canter again. It was so much better.

The second circle was really nice too. He was respectful and kept a nice, even pace around and down the long side. We even got a 7 for the canter C-M-B and another 7 on our downward transition.

After I finished I told the judge the first lack of halt was just me forgetting and not part of my plan and she laughed and said she thought so, but I had asked her not to ring me so she didn’t. Then she asked what breed Levi was and I told her he was a Mustang. She was shocked and said she thought for sure he was an Andalusian cross. I told her he was out of the Carson City Prison Training program and that his DNA says he’s mostly draft horse. My husband ended up talking to her later and she expressed interest in coming to the next auction to check out the Mustangs. Another Mustang fan created.


Levi converted another Mustang fan. Judge’s comment: “love your horse.” #blmmustang #saveahorserideamustang #dressage #horseshow

A post shared by Olivia @ DIY Horse Ownership (@diyhorseownership) on

We had quite a bit of down time between my first test and second test. My husband’s test was in the middle though so I didn’t have enough time to take Levi back to the trailer. I hopped off and sat at the end of the viewing area and Levi took a nap. He’s definitely getting more relaxed at shows. Well, he is as long as he’s not separated from Eugene.

My husband tried to do a round of jumping after his dressage test, but the jumping ring was ridiculously backed up so I took the ponies to stand in the shade while my husband got us some fries and gatorade. The ponies kept begging us for fries, but then not actually wanting them when we offered one. As I was waiting, the water truck and drag truck drove right behind them and they didn’t even care. They’ve definitely gotten used to being show ponies.

Eventually it was time to get back on and warm up for my second test – Training 2. Levi was pretty tired at this point and a bit lazy. I had to school right lead canter multiple times before he did it, but we were ready. For this test I went in thinking I would school a movement if it went particularly bad, but I wasn’t fully committed to blowing the test. I was hoping the correction I did in the first test would hold.

1. A: Enter working trot
X: Halt, salute Proceed working trot
7.0: “fairly straight and square”

Not that square, but the judge can’t really tell from C. It was a decent halt for him.

2. C: Track right
B: Circle right 20m
6.0: “needs steady rhythm and connection”

(sadly blurry) Apparently, I should have gotten dinged for wrong diagonal

3. K-X-M: Change rein
5.5: “needs steady rhythm”

He was really behind my leg across the diagonal and the inconsistent pace was a result

4. Between C & H: Working canter left lead
7.0: “fairly obedient”

This was very obedient compared to earlier. I asked for canter, he immediately cantered. It felt a lot better than the last test. I clearly need to improve on actually going into the corner though.

5. E: Circle left 20m
6.0 (x2): “hollowing. needs softer connection to bit”

I think the bigger problem with this circle was erratic pace.

6. Between E & K: Working trot
7.0: “fairly balanced”

It felt pretty good

7. A: Circle left 20m rising trot, allowing the horse to stretch forward and downward.
Before A: Shorten the reins
A: Working trot
6.0: “needs better bend and connection to bit”

A feel like the score should have been 4 and the comment should be – no stretch shown. I also love our matching disgusted expressions.

8. Between A & F F-E Medium walk Change rein, medium walk
5.5: “prepare better for downward transition. rhythm varies.”

I really aught to actual practice the stretchy trot and transition down. The first and last time I did it was at a show.

9. E-M: Change rein, free walk
M: Medium walk
6.0 (x2): “needs energy and stretch”

Not sure where our free walk went. We usually do better on this movement and it’s a double coefficient too 🙁

10. C: Working trot
6.5: “could have better connection to bit”

There is no connection here

11. E: Circle left 20m
6.0: “inconsistent in contact

Inconsistent is true, but there were good moments

12. F-X-H: Change rein
6.0: “needs steady rhythm and connection”

Levi’s expression says it all

13. Between C & M :Working canter right lead
7.0: “fairly obedient”

It wasn’t pretty, but it was obedient

14. B: Circle right 20m
6.0: “needs better bend”

You mean motorcycling around turns doesn’t count as bending?

15. Between B & F: Working trot
7.0: “fairly obedient”

Obedient yes, but more downhill than I’d have liked.

16. A: Down centerline
X: Halt, salute
6.5: “overshot centerline. square halt.”

I realized I was going to overshoot centerline before I did it, but not soon enough to fix it without jerking him around the turn. I definitely need to practice this movement more. I either overshoot it or get comments about being unbalanced. I always mess it up.

6.0 (underlined “acceptance of bit”)
6.0 (underlined “following mechanics of the gaits”)
Final comment: ”Love your horse. Work on softer connection for rounder topline!”

Final Score: 62.88%

This is exactly the same score I got the last time I did Training 2. I only realized that in typing up this post because I copy-pasted the post from last time so I didn’t have to retype the movements. There are different individual scores to make up the total, but the percentage is identical. Interesting. This time we ended up 4th out of 8, which I think is pretty good. The judge was obviously generous, but it was a schooling show and she was generous all around so 4th out of 8 is pretty good to me.

We obviously have a lot more to work on, but I am glad we went to the show with the plan of purposefully failing that first test. I think Levi really needed that correction to realize he couldn’t get away with misbehavior just because we entered a dressage ring.

16 thoughts on “Training 1 and 2

  1. Teresa

    That was a brilliant plan. Once Levi stops bunching up the bottom of his neck and actually reach for the bit (like in the stretch photo in T2) he will be as light as a feather. I thought he had some spanish blood in him too because of how he looks. He definitely has the andalusian evasion of tightening the bottom of the neck and blocking the energy. 😀

    1. Olivia Post author

      I think some of it is conformation, he definitely loves to arch his neck and not actually go on the bit, but the other part of it is his initial training was all western and they taught him to back off the bit. It’s definitely a hard road to get him accepting the bit.

  2. Elizabeth

    That is fantastic the judge was on board with you schooling in the ring, and Levi realized you CAN get after him in the show ring! Good boy and good plan! 🙂

  3. KC Scott

    Cool judge for letting you do that! I also ALWAYS forget the first halt in USDF tests. Way to show Levi that showing doesn’t equal him getting away with everything.

    1. Olivia Post author

      I think the problem was I had told myself the test was so similar to BN A except for where you start your canter that I just spaced on that first halt.

  4. emma

    dude centerline turns are the *hardest*! Levi looks great tho and nice job really schooling the first test so that the second was so much smoother!

  5. Stacie Seidman

    Very smart to school in the ring! They really do figure out that they won’t get in trouble in the ring, so you have to blow it once in awhile to set them straight. Seems like it worked!
    Congrats on a great learning day!

  6. Cathryn

    He already looks so improved from last time!! Glad you guys were able to school through some not so great moments and were able to come back with a positive test in the end.

Comments are closed.