This is an article that I wrote for the New England Dressage Association’s monthly newsletter Tip of the Hat.

NEDA Spring Dressage Competition, May 9-10, 2009, Marshfield, MA
Show season brings with it the excitement of getting ourselves and our horses ready to compete. Unfortunately for many of us, riding well in public isn’t the same as at home where our equine buddies may perform brilliantly. At the show our horses may act up or lose suppleness and things may be less than stellar. With this in mind I randomly contacted several competitors to find out how they were preparing for the spring show. After their tests I talked to them again to get their perspective on how they think things went. So, without further ado, I’ll let them share their thoughts with you.

Jutta Lee (Open) As I haven’t shown my mare [Perce Neige] for the last 2 years due to an illness and injury she had, my first goal is to show her to her best abilities. Competing tells me, I hope, if I am on the right path with her training in comparison to others. She is not an overly talented horse but exceptionally willing which is why I have been able to get her as far as she is going right now. As a mare she has quite a strong character and has to be in complete harmony with me in order to do well. She has fun doing what she does and so do I. Showing also enables me to meet people and get to know them. Aside from my normal training I organized a clinic on my premises at the beginning of April with Arthur Kottas-Heldenberg, the trainer I trained with in Germany. My mare’s daily training is mostly to keep her supple and responsive. I do not exercise movements very much and I never ride the tests. I have to perform only parts of them. As I said she learns easily and I don’t want her to anticipate what’s coming and do it on her own.
Follow up My mare was injured so I will not be riding her. The first day I rode my 5 year old young horse but only for schooling. I think it was successful. In the warm up ring he was wired at first but calmed down quickly. I’m very happy with this exposure. He also behaved well on Sunday. So we were quite satisfied with things.

Arne Wolz (JR/YR) After my first schooling show last weekend, where I took a wrong turn, I want to do things better for the next show. Also I will have the test called. The last I wanted to ride from memory. My pony [Nandalino] is sometimes very spooky so I hope to ride him through the test without any incidences. At home I train with my mother [Jutta Lee] who is very strict with my seat and my aids. She also rides my pony several times a week to advance him and keep him going. Four weeks ago I rode in a clinic with Arthur Kottas-Heldenberg and I had a lot of fun. He is not as strict as my mother with me. He even let me ride flying changes and for the first time they worked.
Follow up The first morning Arne was warming up behind the rings when a horse spooked and lost its rider. Arne’s horse, Nandi, spooked in response and ran around several times before Arne was able to bring him back down. The experience shook him up and he rode his test in sitting trot instead of rising which made it hard for him to round up the horse. (I saw this happen along with many others and Arne did a wonderful job with Nandi. Many thought that he deserved a blue ribbon for that alone.) On the second day they did quite well considering the strong winds, the pony was just a bit tense but so were other horses. They finished with a much better score.

Mary Bahniuk Lauritsen (YRT) At the NEDA Spring competition I am hoping to have two solid FEI Young Rider tests with my horse Rossignol-ISF. This will be our first competition of the season and with my goal set on making the North American Young Rider Team for Region 8, the greatest achievement would be to have steady and mistake free tests. While balancing both college and riding, I do feel a bit under prepared, as I have not been able to ride as often as I would like to, but I feel confident that with the training I have been doing through the winter with the help of my mother and Lendon Gray that Rossi and I will be successful. I will also be participating in the Courtney King/Anne Gribbons Young Rider Symposium the weekend before NEDA Spring which I believe will give me and my horse that extra boost.
Follow up On the first day I felt wonderful! I don’t feel as though there were any mistakes and no spooking, he can be that way. I rode a bit conservatively and I could’ve pushed a little more but we held it together. The test on the second day was a challenge with the marketplace tents blowing around. Unfortunately, the letters had blown over so our test may not have been 100% accurate but I’m happy that we got through it without an explosion.

Amanda Comer (AA) I plan to get out there and have a good time. I’ve prepared with my regular routine but with a little more focus.
Follow up What a great experience! The warm up ring was fabulous and really woke Sunny up. The rings are beautifully laid out and you can see everything’s that happening. We went off course during our test but I have nothing bad to say. (Sunny’s owner, Amy Rossiter, revealed to me that Amanda has only ridden this horse about 12 times and her instructor was unable to attend the show to coach her. This was their first test and they performed very well.)

Leah Jamieson (Open) I am entered in the NEDA spring show with my young horse Ade Lente. I purchased her from Shooting Star Farm as a yearling. My goal for this show is to introduce Ade Lente to the atmosphere of horse shows under saddle. My preparation includes consistent training since I started her under saddle in 2008 and more recently spending the weekend working with Frenk Jespers from Holland. I am also planning a lesson with Kathy Connelly to get her input on how to ride the tests.
Follow up This is only my second time out with this horse. Last week we were at a schooling show and she spooked a lot. I’m very happy that she hasn’t spooked this time. I think we definitely met our goal to introduce Ade Lente to the show atmosphere under saddle. She was quite panicked in the warm up on the first day but on the second day seemed to have “Got It” much better. We did not score as well as we hoped in the young horse test partly due to my mistakes and it was SUCH A WINDY DAY! I am pleased with her performance and think she is going to be a wonderful competitor some day. I did not expect the panic in the warm up ring. She was afraid she would be run over. She also took issue to the different arena guide lines, chains, rails, etc. She is very smart and usually needs only 1 or 2 times to get used to things. I am sure she will do better the next show. We had a wonderful time and the grounds, stabling, and management were quite nice.

Keith Angstadt (Open) I am hoping to meet my client’s goals at NEDA Spring. I also have personal goals for the horses that I train or ride regularly, but that may differ from the owner’s goals. We don’t need to win, we only need to demonstrate the skills that we have learned at home. I have shown Donnertanz for 3 years, and I hope to show Prix St. Georges this year. I entered Fourth and Grand Prix at NEDA. We are not ready to do FEI, but if you do not enter then you may not be able to compete. It is better to sign up and cancel then to try to enter at the last minute. Living in New England all year, NEDA Spring is a little too early for us. I normally do NEDA Spring as prep for the June shows. I was a demo rider on Tanz at the CVDA “L” program and I can’t stress enough what a wonderful weekend that was. I only demoed Second Level, but the critique and prep was the same as an overnight show without the expenses. I will ride Thor at NEDA so I took him to the NEDA schooling show. We are still working on the changes and not ready yet for Third Level but I’m happy to compete at that level and to just go out and do it and get better! I was also scheduled on Hidalgo who threw a shoe and couldn’t go to the NEDA schooling. We will hopefully be able to compete at NEDA Spring.
Follow up I felt confident going in on the first day but the horse tired out quickly. I could also tell that he remembered some of the spooky things from last year. The second day was great! We had a lot of power with the canter and the judges had even commented on the improvement. I was a little distracted but all of the horses did very well. I scratched the rest of the day. The horses don’t need to be put through this [strong wind].

Kaylee Angstadt (JR/YR) Kaylee wants to have fun. She wants to achieve a national award with her mare, One in a Million. Kaylee was 6th in 2007 and 5th in 2008 NEDA Training level. She wants to reach an USDF YR Award in 2009. Kaylee has prepared by riding with me (Keith Angstadt) several times per week during the winter months. She was an auditor in the CVDA “L” program clinics “B” and “C” and was a demonstration rider with her horse in the April “C” session. That was an incredible experience for her in many ways. She also went to the NEDA Spring Schooling show to practice. Kaylee is in charge of all prep for shows: cleaning two sets of tack, braiding, loading all tack and clothes.
Follow up I had fun! The right canter lead is always difficult so it was a little up. (Later her father, Keith, told me that she was shedding tears tears of joy because she had so much fun.)

Sharon McCusker (Open) I am going to NEDA with my Grand Prix horse as a tune up before my last qualifier for the USET Grand Prix Championships. The Raleigh CDI qualifier is the last weekend in May and I need to debut my new freestyle before then. As a bonus for me, one of the judges at the NEDA show judged me in Florida twice in the Grand Prix and I am interested in her feedback now that I have had several weeks to school since I returned to Massachusetts. Having good judges is important when you’re looking for good, constructive feedback. I have worked on overall strengthening as well as improving overall self carriage in my horse’s work. He is a new GP horse so his work is evolving month to month as we develop new strength and balance. I thought the footing at NEDA was good last year and the permanent stalls were comfortable for my horses. After being put in small stalls under hot tents in Florida at the CDI’s I have no problem with the stabling offered at Marshfield. I also have a number of students showing at NEDA, three are debuting at PSG, and it will be nice to be there to help them.