Gizmos and gadgets make showing a lot easier, but you don't need to bring the kitchen sink. At least that is what I remind myself of as I pack! While at HDEC a few weeks ago, I spotted a few more things that would make showing easier. I bought them and was thrilled with their application. Someone recently asked me for some showing tips. I am really not an expert, but I guess I do have a few tips to pass on.
Bale bags are a very common sight at endurance rides, but I don't think I've seen one at a dressage show. I generally load a full bale of hay in the first stall of my trailer (three-horse slant load). Once at the show grounds, I cut open the bale, and slide the bale bag over half the bale, a little like a pillow case. My bag has a very sturdy zipper over the top which keeps the hay from falling out. I haul the bag to my stall, usually in a little cart. The bag keeps the hay from being scattered around, and it keeps it out of the dirt. It also protects the hay from passing horses.
For these stalls, the hangers worked great. At some shows we do, the stalls are solid wood and the only place to hang the buckets is over the door. Speedy really likes to stand at the door when that is his only "window" so I am not sure how they'll work when we go back to the traditional dutch door stall. I've seen people hang the buckets on the outside of the stall so that the horses can still stand right at the door. I might have to give that a try.
A few other odds and ends that make showing easier are seen here, too. I love my braiding box (red), found at Lowe's Home Improvement. It works as a storage box for all my braiding stuff and it's a great mounting block.
The portable tack hanger (purple) was also quite useful. Most of the stalls we've used don't have the open bars for hanging stuff, but I was glad to have the tack hanger for this situation.
I've seen the dry erase reminder boards before, but for this show, I realized how useful it can be to have your times written down where you are sitting and thinking. And since all four of my times changed over the course of the weekend, it would have been nice to have a quick and easy write-and-wipe board to show the updated times. I also found that friends want to know what time I am riding. If I have it written down, they can see it without me having to drag out my wrinkled and crumpled day sheet. The next time I am at Target, I am buying one of those boards.
And finally ... some thoughts about success from the world's (admitted) Worst Self-Critic.
I wish an accomplished rider, trainer, or judge could give me a definitive explanation of what constitutes success in the world of dressage. I realize that this can't happen since success is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. For the past three years, my goals have been to move up through the levels and to bring my scores above 60%. We've done that. If accomplishing a purpose really is the criteria for success, then I am forced to admit that I have been successful with Speedy.
To an overly critical person, those goals seem tiny and inconsequential. What makes you truly successful? Is it rides of 70% or simply riding at a certain level? What should my goals be? I know that my goal can't be to jump to 2nd Level and win the CDS Championship. I don't work well with goals that are too large (and unrealistic). And so while I might find my goals to be small or insignificant, at the very least, they are achievable.
So what next? This show helped me see that my next goal should be to eliminate the 5s on my score sheets. This goal serves several purposes: it will raise my scores, which is something that I am always trying to do anyway, and more importantly, it will be some sort of confirmation that we are moving through the dressage pyramid in a correct way.
Here's to success!