I have lots of great news about Doug and Savanah. They are doing really well and are training for Level 1 for 2011. They won their silver pin for 2010. That requires two scores over 60 from two different judges. This was their first year, and they only went in two shows, so they did well. They have lots of ribbons, even a first place, from a class with lots of great competition. They're the featured local rider on NS Dressage currently (lower left).
Savanah is a wonderful horse. When Joan started teaching me (I told the story here) she didn't think Savanah would be able to go in a show (she was hugely over weight, shaggy and unbelievably her previous owner had used her for barrel racing!), but she showed all of us! She loves dressage and loves to show and it has been wonderful for her. She went from a horse who constantly anticipated and acted nervous, to a confident happy partner. She's a draft cross and she isn't one of these crosses who just looks a little solid. She shows her draft. We don't know her breeding but were told she was a Percheron / Thoroughbred cross. That wouldn't account for the color though. Maybe she's a Paint / Percheron cross? Her feet are the size of dinner plates and she isn't a horse I would have picked out (only because up to then I liked more 'refined' looks), until I found out how wonderful she is.
Doug picked her out, and boy did he pick a winner in the equestrian pool. She must have thoroughbred genes, because despite her draft looks, she loves to go forward. She has more forwardness than 5 year old warmblood Rogo (she's twelve, still many good years left with her). Together with the forwardness, she's 100% reliable. I'd trust her with my life. Then add in that she's very sensitive to the aids. For a big horse, she'll bend almost at right angles and is as constant and steady on the bit as you can imagine a horse being. She's just solidly there in your hands waiting for the next move. For example, when Joan recently instructed Doug in shoulder in, he didn't have to teach her - she is just so on the aids that when he asked for it she did a perfect shoulder in almost from the beginning. The next day she trotted it in a beautiful rhythm. How cool is that?
All in all, I'd sum her up by saying that she's about as fun a ride as you can have.
She's beaten some nice warmbloods in competition - I love it when under dogs do that! She does well by being consistent, precise, having good rhythm and loving the show ring. When she hears the bell to enter she feels like a balloon blowing up underneath you and then bam - she's going for it :)
She was season high point champion at Training level the year I showed her, and even won her first Level One class at her first gold show that year, scoring mid 60's.
Here is a short video of she and Doug schooling today:
Doug rode western until he announced a year and a half ago that he'd like " a few minutes instruction with Savanah in case he felt like riding her". Well, that was interesting. He was blown away by her responsiveness, even at the level she is, and instantly started dressage lessons (he'd jokingly made fun of dressage big time until then). Now he's hooked and plans to take her up the levels as far as they can go.
I know she isn't papered breeding stock, but sometimes I fantasize that we should continue her great traits...
Doug's riding is really coming along great. Joan despaired at first :), with his western background, but he's a natural. He's one of the few men in Nova Scotia doing dressage.
Here are a few pictures of them:
And a short video of me with her in our first show (above). I can't wait to see what Doug and Savanah accomplish.