Bearing in Mind the New Tests

Well, I blew it last week. Was doing taxes and didn’t look up long enough to realize the deadline for the blog had passed. I’m also marking the one-year anniversary of when I broke my leg (judging, not riding!), so I’m watching where I put my feet. Spring last year meant three months of sitting around, doing things like reading page proofs of ?HJ? and mystery novels in a sunny window, but no riding. The groundhog was right ? spring seems to be early, so I want to be riding in the sun this year, not sitting in the sun. New Jersey seems to have its own spring prognosticators this year. There are reports that bears have come out of hibernation early. Now, I associate bears and NJ dressage shows in my mind. Why’ Because the one time I’ve seen a bear outside a zoo or a national park was when we were driving to a show in Sussex County to braid at 6 a.m. A bear crossed the road right in front of us. I even got a picture. Memorable, to say the least. I got a kick out of Cindy?s blog last week. She was talking about all the mud at this time of year and how horse people have to learn to love mud. I hate mud — isn?t that why God made turnout sheets’ I’d much rather spend quality time currying my horse’s trace clip to help her with her itches and to hurry along the shedding than to be coughing up a cloud of dust from dried mud. Thank goodness Windy?s legs and neck are black and don’t show the dirt. Last week I was judging in Gainesville FL, where they presumably have more alligators than bears. Didn?t see either, including U. of Florida Gators, the arch villains to my husband?s Georgia Bulldogs. Henry wanted me to wear a U. of Georgia hat while I was judging. I wanted to get out of Florida in one piece and left the hat at home. While I’ve seen the DVD of the new dressage tests maybe a dozen times by now, this was my first time judging whole classes. The new tests ride beautifully in the DVD ? those are also very accomplished riders on lovely horses. My feeling now, seeing the tests with a variety of riders and horses, is that these tests will be more challenging than the 2007 tests of comparable levels. Yes, posting is now allowed at First Level and some of the canter movements at Fourth Level have been dialed back, but overall the patterns are tougher and the movements come up more quickly. Riders will have to understand how to ride half halt to half halt, even at First Level. I really like the tests and the questions they are asking of riders. I think, however, that some riders may want to step back a level, or a couple tests within a level, as they prepare for the early shows in 2011, and make sure they are comfortable with what they are asking of their horses in the show arena. Resolution Report: Not so good. No progress over the last two weeks, but no backsliding either. Been working out more. Maybe no more mint Oreo cookies with my evening tea and ?Jeopardy.?

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