Santos and Me

Riding Journal Part 5: March to July 1999

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March 1999 - Back for more!

Well! Cortney is game to come back again for a second season! What a glutton for punishment. The first ride after the winter off was...umm..interesting. <snort and snicker>. I manage to convince her she knows nothing in about 20 minutes. Just because she finished up last season so well, doesn't mean I'm going to let her have it easy this year! Oh no, she has to earn it all over again.

Alright, after a few torture session, I relent. I will work for Cortney. And you know what? She's riding pretty darn well! She still has halfpass and shoulder in problems

Funny, a year and a half ago, I just thought I was traveling to Lexington for "just a few lessons"! Here I am, back for my second season. Frances has a new farm and while we are waiting for her arena to be built, Santos and I get reacquainted working in the fields. I've been taking a yoga class since November, and Frances comments that I am looking more balanced and symmetrical. Hooray! There IS hope! We take the time to concentrate on basics and work on forwardness and throughness.

In some ways, I missed the nice relaxing drives up to Lexington too. Strange, I know!!

May 29: First Show of the Season
Salem, VA

First test, first show of the season. Ahhh, Cortney. Did you really imagine I would behave? Surely you knew it would be my best opportunity to prepare your sense of humor for the whole season


Soft, up, engaged and through! What a difference from last year!
SWVADA Spring Show Scores
Third 1     E. Lewis    48.721%
Third 2     E. Lewis    58.680%
Third 3     E. Lewis    56.860%

Although Santos and I have been training for only about six weeks, I still feel like we are doing so much better than at the end of last year. I was eagerly awaiting this first show to prove this was true -- imagine my horror when we put in a horrible performance that had me so flustered I went off course and totally blanked out! I never forget a test. That trip earned us a 48%!! I was so upset, I was about ready to just throw in the towel, thinking it had all been a mistake. Somehow, I gathered my few remaining wits and went in and delivered some respectable tests, just about all 5's-6's-7's. No huge bobbles! All right, let's keep going!

Our medium and extended trots, which were plagued by rider-induced uneveness, seemed to have evened out. Yoga? Unfortunately, my yoga classes have recently ended until the fall, and attempts to do it at home on my own are failing miserably.

It was fun to think back to this show last year -- our first ever show together. Santos was bucking and I was just hoping to survive! Our relationship has really grown, and I really trust him (not necessarily in the ring) and no longer worried about his antics.

July 17-18: Dressage at Lexington
Lexington, VA

Dressage at Lexington. Bronze medal achieved! I'm too cool! Cortney's pretty cool too.

Dressage at Lexington Scores
Third 2     J. Burton   61.052%
Third 2     C. Bass     57.714%
Third 3     C. Bass     57.105%
Third 3     C. Bass     60.571%

A flying change, straight and from behind

Resistance in shoulder-in

My husband and I went with friends to the beach for a week at the beginning of the month suffices to say I had some indications that perhaps something was wrong with me. Upon my return, a trip to the doctor confirmed our suspicions, I was PREGNANT!!! We'd been "open" to the idea for a while, but didn't think things would work out quite this soon. We wwere absolutely thrilled! I was already about 8 weeks and had NO signs of morning sickness or anything. So, I just kept on with business as usual. But, we knew the clock was ticking and this would be my last season on Santos. The goals were to (1) get my USDF Bronze Medal and (2) gain experience through Fourth Level.

I continued training for Dressage at Lexington - a three day show. The Wednesday night before the show, I got very sick and was in bed with a fever...horrible enough but more so when pregnant. I stayed in bed, took Tylenol, but missed Friday of the show. Despite doctor and husband recommendations, I peeled myself out of bed Saturday to go compete in the remaining two days of the show. Boy was I glad I did! I got the Third Level scores that I needed to complete the requirements for a Bronze Medal! I was so excited I could hardly believe it. I finally felt like I "belonged" at Third level. But I knew Frances wouldn't let me stay there much longer.

One funny comment from one of the judges was that it looked like I was hanging on the mouth with the bit pulled way back. I said something to Frances, because he certainly doesn't feel that heavy, and she pointed out it's because he has extraordinarily LONG lips! He really does -- like a camel. Maybe he needs some cosmetic surgery or we could glue his lips to his teeth!!

Late July: Fine tuning

Half-passes are still not too consistent, especially to the left. My right hand always wants to "help" by being extra busy and my left hand wants to come up to high which throws Santos into an inconsistent rhythm. My body continues to interfere -- and I think the lack of yoga is allowing my body to revert back to familiar contortions.

Same thing in the flying changes. I work so hard to sit up and not lean with my body but the video shows the truth. True body awareness eludes me.

After watching the Dressage at Lexington tapes, I realized that all my walk work could use some improvement. Its hard to keep Santos marching along, engaged and through especially in the walk pirouettes and rein back. We begin spending more time in the walk and it starts to come along. He needs a great deal of convincing to keep him moving more actively than a slug.

July 31-Aug 1: Morven Park
Leesburg, VA

Morven Park. Hey, we get to leave old Fretful and Insecure behind. What a relief. Frances stayed home too. Just Cortney and me. Cortney and I win Third Level High Point, so she buys me a beautiful new halter to show her appreciation. It looks spectacular on me too, particularly with the High Point ribbon attached.

Morven Park Scores
Third 2     G. LaCroix     58.947%
Third 2     G. LaCroix     56.315%
Third 3     G. LaCroix     60.285%
Third 3     G. LaCroix     54.285%

Morven Park was actually two shows - a Friday show then a Saturday/Sunday show. We were scheduled to leave Thursday afternoon, but Thursday morning Frances called and sounded just awful. She had thrown her back out and couldn't possibly go. So I was on my own! I had to get my trailer ready and decided to skip Friday and just do the weekend show.

Santos and I thought it was a pretty great adventure, going it alone! Luckily, Jenn Hatch, Santos' previous owner and groom for European Performance Horses, was just down the barn aisle from us. She was able to lend a hand but more importantly, moral support and encouragement.

Things went smoothly, no huge bobbles, and no "shut-down" like we had in this ring last year. My half-passes can always stand improvement and I could never seem to remember what letter to half-pass from and to in each of the tests since it's different. I called Frances after each of my tests and filled her in on how it was going. I even toyed with filling in a Fourth 1 scratch, but it was SO hot and that would have been at peak heat. Not worth it, especially being pregnant.

Santos and I did well enough with respect to the competition that the 60.2 was enough to earn us the High Point Third Level ride of the weekend. I was so excited to get back to Lexington and share that last bit of news with Frances.

August: Tempi changes and pirouettes

Now for the fun stuff, on to Fourth Level! The major new movements at Fourth include canter pirouettes (quarter and half) and tempi changes every three and four strides. Naturally, Santos LOVES tempi changes, so much so, that he really gets motoring when I ask for more than one change. One direction gives me more fits than the other and he practically runs away with me every time. I get behind the motion and panic. The faster he goes, the more I throw my body into the changes. Sometimes I get lucky and they work out, but mostly they don't. These always look so easy when Frances does them, but suddenly I find my ability to count to four is severely impaired. I will just have to keep him straight and through and hope for the best...

On to Part 6...

Copyright 1998 Cortney Martin and Frances Yeardley
Graphics by Frances Yeardley

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