Our Journey into the World of On-line Horse Shows
By Nancy Souer & Sasha
What is an on-line horse show? I had never heard of such a thing. So you can imagine my surprise, one afternoon, when my search for horse related podcasts educated me about this whole new concept. I was only nine months out from a hip replacement surgery, and disappointed with how long it was taking me to get back into riding with any consistency. My balance, stamina, and leg strength just were not there yet. But this idea of doing a horse show over the internet intrigued me, and I decided to make entering one my ultimate goal. (Photo below, Sasha and I warming up for our first test)
My horse, Sasha, and I had been riding all summer, but we could only ride for short periods of time (per doctor’s orders) at first before my tail bone cried uncle and I had to get off. At eleven months after the surgery, we were finally able to keep going for thirty to forty minutes per ride. And so, we then started to prepare for our first dressage video class. But, it was not going to be an easy task.
Here I should explain our background a bit, because up to this point Sasha and I had not had any real dressage schooling. All my formal training and showing experience was in Saddle Seat riding. Sasha had come into our family by way of a rescue group which had saved her out of an auction kill pen, but I had only managed to give her basic training before my hip pain became unbearable to ride with prior to the surgery. So embarking on an adventure into the world of on-line dressage was a stretch, but in my naive thinking I figured a dressage test couldn’t be much different than riding an equitation pattern. So in my unknown ignorance, I found a copy of the test and began learning it.
Our first attempt earned a 55.2% score, and I was very disappointed. However, several people quickly pointed out that such a score was not bad considering how little we knew about dressage. So with the hope of improving, I started to prepare to ride a second test. During the next few weeks I noticed a change in Sasha’s attitude when I practiced - occasional pinned ears, twitching tail, then one day she swung her head around with teeth barred while I tightened the girth. Her actions caused me to abandon any plan of riding another test and instead analyze what was going on. Eventually, the cause was determined to be an ill-fitting saddle that had caused her a very sore back. Our vet put Sasha on pain medicine, advised me to give her time off, and get a different saddle. But finding a new saddle for a big, wide Quarter Horse that would still work for a rider with a new hip was not going to be easy. (Photo below, Sasha and I “reading” what the judge had to say about our first test. )
The obvious challenge was finding one with a narrow enough seat twist to not over stretch my new joint, and yet have a wide enough tree to allow Sasha’s spine and shoulders to move without restriction. After much research, I purchased a synthetic brand offering many options to customize the fit. At last we were ready to attempt our second dressage test, and our effort yielded a 56.7% score. I was encouraged that we were at least improving!
Part two to follow......