June Dressage – “Needs more work!”

This week, Evenlode Riding Club held the first show of their summer dressage series in my yard’s front field.  I have been taking part in these since the first summer I was riding Pea (with the exception of last year when I had to attend on crutches!) so although I’ve done a few competitions this year, this was the show I was really looking forward to.

Lead up

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that the few days before the show had me in a bit of a panic!  It had been raining solidly for days and I was really worried about little barefoot Pea slipping over!

The morning of the show was no different and I got Pea in at 6 to wash her legs before work.  She was actually shivering, bless her!

She stayed in during the day in an attempt to stay clean but I did have a few messages through the day telling me she was feeling a bit “bright!”  Another bad omen!

Prelim 7

After work, a quick groom and a speedy warm up, a thankfully quite calm Pea and I trotted in for our Prelim 7.  I have to say that the only thing I thought about as I went round was “what do I have to do next?” and “which way am I going?” My brain couldn’t cope with the arena being the other way round from our arena on the yard (as in A was north east rather than south west!)  Does anyone else have perspective issues?

Anyway the first canter kept breaking (because it was meant to be a right canter but was actually a left canter) and the second one didn’t so I was feeling quite chuffed (until I realised that was a right canter when it was meant to be a left canter!)  At the time I was really pleased that I had got through the test without falling over or forgetting it (though I did nearly forget to salute!)

Prelim 12

I had to quickly get my head in the game for the slightly more complicated Prelim 12 which seemed to go pretty well until the right canter which broke, turned into a left canter and ultimately ended up as a trot.  By that point we were both a bit tired and we just about kept her going to the end.

 

Aftermath

I didn’t place. I wasn’t bothered about not getting a rosette but I was pretty bothered when I realised about that whole canter on the wrong leg in my Prelim 7 which, until that point, I had thought was better!

I got 58.41% in my Prelim 7 and 60.74% in my Prelim 12.  Naturally I had a “lovely pony” comment (how could anyone not like Pea!?) but the comment that stuck in my brain was “needs more work” about my canter in the Prelim 7.  Yes.  Obviously it needs more work.  Maybe I took it personally because I’ve been “working on it” for years.  I know I need to “work on it”.  I had a hip replacement so I could “work on it”.  Being there and doing it was “working on it”!

After reading my sheets I then had a look through the pictures Alex took.  All I could focus on was my left leg; knee very bent, heel up, foot stuck in stirrup.  This was my second wobble of the evening.  Something else I need to “work on”!

Then I kicked myself.  A year ago I couldn’t move my left leg, I should be able to forgive it for moving in the wrong way for a bit longer!  I am happy I didn’t wimp out and I’m glad that my parents were able to see a less spooky dressage test after the one they saw in April.  I am pleased I managed to remember two tests and ride some “satisfactory” and even “fairly good” movements.  Certainly a start to the series I can “work on”!

Back On It (And Only Just Staying On It!)

April and May have been quiet months for Pea and I.  We had a not-particularly-successful competition right at the beginning of April and then decided to take a step back, take a bit of the pressure off and get some hacking miles on the clock.  With our local riding club dressage competition looming, I thought it was about time I had another lesson.

My instructor has moved so we were at a different venue, not far down the road from home.  I drove, which I was probably more nervous about than riding somewhere new, but we all got there safely!

After warming up and taking in the different surroundings, we played with Pea’s trot, which has improved so much this year, and then worked on our canter transitions.  Anyone who follows our story will know that canter has been our nemesis forever but today I was starting to keep her together into the canter rather than chucking my reins at her and letting her run into it.  I was also wobbling around all over the place, nearly losing my left stirrup the whole time, having cramp in my left calf and being completely incapable of keeping my heels down but lets focus on the positives!  We actually ‘had’ the canter so that is something to celebrate.

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Very occasionally in our time together, Pea has objected to a touch of the whip by kicking out at it.  It has only happened literally less than a handful of times and each time it has been when she’s been tired and objecting to still being asked to canter.  Today I was doing 20m circles and every time we came towards P I could feel her wanting to fall out through her left shoulder and probably duck out to the left (which she did manage to do once when she caught me snoozing).  On one particular circle I felt she needed more than a weak left leg to keep her on track (I carry a schooling whip on the left because my leg sometimes needs backing up) so I gave her a tap and she BUCKED!  A rarely before witnessed experience for sure!  I’m not sure who was more surprised, my instructor or Alex, neither of whom have ever seen her do anything like that before!  Luckily I just flopped on her neck a bit, I did NOT fall off!  A definite near miss though.

Far less eventfully, we also ran through Prelim 12 which is one of the tests I will be doing for our next competition in a week and a half!  It is not going to be easy, the canter work involves a 20m circle AND half a diagonal change of rein then only a couple of strides of trot before doing the same thing on the other rein – eek!  Nevertheless, my trot work is stronger and if I can get that right and just try my best with the canter, I might be ok.

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So, things to take away from today

  • Start with my reins short enough and keep them that way
  • Stay alert because each movement comes up quickly
  • Leave each movement behind especially if it went wrong!

Things for Alex to take away from today

  • Keep that camera snapping, you never know when you might witness a naughty Pea moment!
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