Remy Shows at Sorensen

This past weekend I took Remy to the recognized show up at Sorensen Equestrian Park in East Troy, Wi. I had never been there before and wanted to check it out, so I figured it was a perfect opportunity to see a new show venue and get Remy some ring miles.  The facility is very nice. It was much quieter than some of the other places I’ve been, which I appreciated. The footing was good, the riders were friendly, the show manager (Reid Sorensen) was helpful and easy to talk to, and I LOVED that the warm up ring was right next to the show rings. After 40 minutes in the warm up ring, Remy had seen all there was to see about the adjacent show ring, which made it really easy to enter at A and get right to business.

In the warm up, Remy took a good look around and felt a little tense, but he didn’t put a foot wrong. We walked around and stretched, trotted until I was content that I could bend both ways and get my transitions, then relaxed until our test. I knew the footing was deeper than at home and I wanted to make sure I had gas in the tank for the second test.

As we entered the ring for our first test, Training Level Test 2, Remy felt obedient but tight. He felt a little behind my leg and I couldn’t quite get him to really stride out. I figured it was his nerves or mine and left it be, trying to ride an accurate test.  That strategy mostly worked, except when it came time to canter. To his credit, he did pick up the canter, and even the correct lead, and he kept me on his back. Unfortunately, we received the too accurate comment “bucking and playing”. He came right back to me and we recovered in time to canter a nice circle and get an easy transition back to trot. I wasn’t super thrilled with the stretchy trot circle but it wasn’t awful, and we had some decent moments in the free walk. Then we had a complete repeat the other direction, complete with a buck into the canter, and again a quick easy recovery… he wasn’t trying to run off with me, but the transition was SO unusual for him I didn’t know what to make of it.

The second test we rode was Training Level Test 1, which should have been easy and I was prepared to really go for it, despite the quickly rising temperature.  I was hoping he would feel more relaxed in the second test and we would get our bigger, swingier gaits, but he actually felt about the same.  We entered at A, confident and ready to do this.

We had some nice trot work, and I think I got the stride a little longer than in the first test, but I was working really hard for it (active spurs!) which is so unusual for him.

Then we had a repeat of the slightly-too-bouncy canter transition which easily settled into a decent left lead canter.

The canter was followed by a relaxed walk I was pleased with.

Then some more decent trot, though he still felt a little tight or balled up under me and behind my leg.

And then the final canter transition was as bouncy as the previous 3 had been… and just as before, it quickly settled into a perfectly acceptable though still a little lacking canter.

We left the ring hot and tired, but having successfully completed the first show of the year. I was proud of Remy, though puzzled by his strange behavior in the ring. He is not usually the sort to get so behind my leg, and I was working WAY too hard for the lack of gaits we were getting. And he has NEVER bucked even a little picking up the canter. I didn’t get the feeling he was bucking out of naughtiness, nor was he trying to get me off his back (or I have no doubt he would have lol!), and he didn’t feel particularly fresh. It was odd.

We got our tests back, and it was as I had thought. We had mostly good scores with a few really low ones mixed in (er, all 4 canter transitions), and the comments mostly suggested that he was tight/tense and not really moving forward. I was pleased to have received three 8’s and a 7 for the centerlines/halts, and a 7 both times for the “Rider Position and Seat” score (I’ve been working REALLY hard on that one!!). The rest of the scores were mostly either 6 or 6.5 with a few 7’s randomly sprinkled in, so we ended up with 61.429% and 62.292%.

Over all I wasn’t thrilled but I also wasn’t disappointed. Remy really had been fantastic. It was his first show this year, and a new place for us. He hadn’t spooked at anything, he had trailered like a pro, and had really done well in the ring. I had been hoping to pull out his fancier trot, but I was also confident that with a few more shows the tension would disappear, and being his first show of the year, I’m sure I was contributing to the tension. As I get more confident taking him places, I’m sure we will both do better.

It wasn’t until we got home that I realized just how well he had really done. He had given me all that he had, and it wasn’t tension causing the balled up behind the leg feeling. His back was REALLY sore.  I felt horrible. I don’t know when it happened, maybe tension in the first warm up caused it, or maybe the trailer ride, or maybe the saddle (I had tried a new memory foam saddle pad the day before). In any case, I had my explanation for the bouncy canter transitions and I gave him extra cookies for giving me such nice work despite his sore back. I left the barn feeling even more confident and pleased with what we were able to do given the circumstances.

He got the next 2 days off and was totally fine, and I’ve since been re-evaluating saddle fit… I have a bad feeling about this one.

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7 thoughts on “Remy Shows at Sorensen

  1. The “saddle fit thing”–I’m with you on that one. I’ve borrowe a friend’s Albion to ride in while I await the next visit from the saddle fitter at my trainer’s barn where I will have “the expert’s evil eye” guide me on a suitable dressage saddle. The custom-in-price-only saddle never WAS right for me–a full inch too small in the seat and it pitched me forward. I complained about it to the fitter for a year and finally gave up. Now it is consigned REALLY cheap at the local saddle shop and I’m looking for something that isn’t a struggle to ride in. Can’t learn this stuff if the seat ain’t right, y’know?

    As for Remy, bless his HEART! The little “yeehaw” at the canter trans wasn’t bad enough to toss you over his head, but he was sending you a message–and you were smart enough to realize it.

    We can parse these dressage tests and scores to a gnat’s eyebrow but the point is, you got scores that were fair and comments that were constructive and will help y ou work on things that need it so next time you ride the tests … you’ll have a whole NEW set of things to work on. ;o)

    And the judge was correct. You have a lovely seat. (You also have a lovely horse. Love those chestnuts ;o)

    • Thanks tbdancer! The saddle I was riding in is actually an Albion, which is SUPER comfy to sit on, and the saddle fitter approved on him (actually had to special order it to get the narrower/higher head to clear his huge wither). But from the beginning, I’ve been really struggling to ride in it. I think because he is so uphill, when the saddle sits high enough in front to clear his wither it throws off the saddle balance, so I always feel like I’m sliding back and end up leaning forward to stay balanced over my feet. The pad I added was a foam wedge that bumped the back of the saddle maybe 1/4-1/2 inch, and I felt SOOOO much more balanced. Unfortunately I think it’s clear that Remy does not approve. At least now I know why I have so much trouble in that saddle. I’ve put him back in my trusty old Wintec Isabell and we are both happier. I’m trying to decide if I even want to go there with the saddle fitter to try to make the Albion work, or if I should just sell it and try to find a Bates Isabell. The Albion is ok on Liam, he’s not built as uphill as Remy is, but the Isabell is ok on him too. If the Albion you are borrowing is working for you and you want one, let me know!!!!

  2. have all the same issues, i knew as soon as i read your post what the problem was. i found that the bates innova really worked well for me and the horse. i would strongly recommend you research taking back and wither tracings online and compare them to your saddle with and without the pad. my TB is a different guy now that there is no pain, and no pinching of the withers or pressure along the spine. the bucking disappeared overnite, and has never returned

    • Thanks so much for the suggestion! It actually turned out to be the saddle pad I was using. It made the saddle too tight on him. But same as you, once I corrected the fit the problem went away instantly. I felt so bad, I thought it would be such a comfy pad for him, but I guess not! Oops!

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