June 21, 2012

Afternoon at a horse show

My cousin was in a horse show this past weekend.  I always like going to horse shows, and this one was different than the usual hunter-jumper shows in which I've competed or that I've attended.  This show was a dressage show.

My cousin used to do hunter-jumper shows, but now she concentrates on dressage.  Her horse, Cinnamon, isn't the easiest ride, but she does a great job with him.  She did a couple of intro level tests at this show.  How dressage works is this- the edge of the ring is marked with letters.  Each test has a precise set of instructions to follow, for instance, working trot from A to E, canter a 20 meter circle at F, free walk from H to B.  The rider gets points for each section of the test, as well as points for overall impression in different categories, such as gaits, impulsion, rider's position.  Each class is then placed from high score to low.  At higher levels of dressage, for some tests the riders ride to music and for some they can make up their own tests.  There are also more complicated movements specific to dressage which upper level dressage horses perform, but none of that was going on at this show.

The long flap is a defining trait of a dressage saddle.  When riding dressage, you generally ride with a longer stirrup to lengthen your leg against the horse. 

My cousin rode well in the show.  Cinnamon isn't always cooperative, but she makes him listen.  Her parents brought up how it's my fault that my cousin rides.  It's true!  I took her to the barn with me years ago and put her on a horse.  That was it.  Once the equestrian bug bit, it never went away. 

I'm proud of my cousin, for how she rides and for how she takes care of her horse, all by herself.  She works hard to be able to keep him, and she works hard making him the horse that he is.  He has come a long way with all the effort she has put into him.  I see a dramatic difference from when she first got him. 

Sure I'm biased, but I think anyone can enjoy going to a horse show, even if you can't tell if a horse is cantering on its left or right lead.  Horses are remarkable animals.  You don't have to be able to ride to appreciate their beauty and grace. 

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