By Jennifer Klitzke
Peak autumn color draped the landscape of the Rocking R Farm schooling dressage show held September 29, 2012 in Foley, MN. Eighty-eight horse/rider combinations were shown and only one of them gaited–me and my eight-year-old Tennessee walking horse mare Gift of Freedom. Her black winter coat was well on its way as a gorgeous Indian Summer day heated up to 80-degrees.
I applied a blend of what I learned from Larry Whitesell and Jennifer Bauer at the clinic I recently attended and focused more on relaxation, rhythm, and balance versus overstride and head nod. I think this resulted in a more true four-beat first level dressage frame. The judge seemed to agree and gave us an overall score of 68.96% on our First Level Test One ride with 7’s on gaits, riding position, and effectiveness, and 8’s on harmony.
Show delays and warm temperatures seemed to drain Makana’s gas tank. By the time we rode First Level Test Three, we sputtered on fumes in the deep sand along the rail and corners. This had been our first shot at riding this busy test which includes flat walk, 10-meter flat walk circles, leg yields at a flat walk, stretching flat walk, lengthened gait, medium walk, free walk, canter, medium canter, 15-meter canter circles, and canter serpentines on the same lead to show counter canter, halt and salute. We received a score of 60%.
Next schooling show I think I’ll only ride one long test and bring a second horse to ride instead of pushing Makana beyond her energy reserves.