January Dressage

Last week I took the plunge and entered a dressage competion. Evenlode RC, who are the ones who host dressage competitions in our fields in the summer, were hosting at Lower Haddon Livery today. I decided to just enter the intro, although we used to do prelim, as since my hip replacement we haven’t really established maintaining a comfortable canter yet!

I didn’t broadcast that I entered because I was worried something was going to go wrong (remember what happened when I tried to do a pre op competition?)

Anyway, today was the day!

The Prep

Last night I gathered together all my show things (most of which have been unused for a year and a half) and gave my boots and tack a thorough clean with Horseman’s (my favourite leather cleaner).

For fear of Pea being a fresh beast, I left her out last night which meant getting to the yard at 7 and shampooing her legs, neck and mane in semi darkness (the wash area has no light!) I’m not going to lie, she was still damp when we warmed up but was looking beautiful by the time I got off!

The Journey

We were adamant that it would take about 45 minutes to get there, it didn’t. It took just over 30 and it was such an easy route.  A plus point since I’m always nervous about travelling Pea.

The Warm Up

After faffing about getting myself ready and tacking up/trying to put off the inevitable, I went to warm up in the outdoor school. As you can see below, Pea was really rather interested in what was going on around the outside of the school. I struggled to get her as forward as I do at home and forget working in a consistent contact! I also had a bun malfunction – hairband, hairnet and scrunchie all came sliding down and I had to get off and redo it!

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The Test

The test was in the indoor school. Pea has only been in an indoor school twice and each of those times she wasn’t keen to go in and found the first few minutes rather unnerving. Today was no different except this time I didn’t have the time to sort it out like I did with lessons, I had to pretty much go straight into the test.

Firstly, there were significant pony club kicks required to get through the doorway.  Then, as the woman shut the sliding door, Pea did the most majestic rein back away from it.  We then set off around the outside of the arena, she wasn’t sure about the mirrors or the way the surface was quite compact and basically wanted to stop at each point of the test to have a look at what was going on. Apart from nearly stopping whilst doing a poo down the first centre line and nearly stopping at the door later on (causing me to forget when to transition and consequently being late to walk), I managed to keep her going through the movements though it wasn’t particularly dignified or connected.

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Reflection

Really I could have done with entering a second test because I think if we went in again, Pea would have been more comfortable in the arena. I was just so pleased to have done it – it was the first dressage competition we have done away from home and the first since my hip replacement.

The Scoresheet

I got 64.78% and a rosette for coming 3rd out of 4! My comments were as expected, she needs to be softer to the contact, more supple to the bend on both reins and generally more connected. The general comment did say that we were a ‘lovely partnership’ and that we ‘show real promise for the future’ which was amazing. I’m so aware we have got a long way to go even to do a passable prelim test (which I’m hoping to start entering next month) but at least we are showing promise!

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Final Thoughts 

It was a great, low key, friendly event today (thank you Evenlode RC) and I feel so proud of Pea for being generally so well behaved in a completely new environment.  Hopefully there will be another competition in February for us to have a go at.

As ever, all the thanks go to my boyfriend for his help – it wasn’t ideal for him to have to sacrifice his Sunday lie in to support me BUT we were right next to Brize Norton so at least he saw some aeroplanes!

One 2019 goal ticked off!

Back To School

It has been another big week for me!  I started my new job (back in a school) on Monday and today Pea and I went for our first lesson since my hip replacement.

I’ve had a few really sluggish and frustrating schooling sessions recently and I decided I am better enough to gain something from a lesson.  I feel like I’ve got use of my leg back but I’ve completely forgotten how to ride! I spoke to my instructor and we agreed that she would ride Pea for half the time and I would ride the rest.

It didn’t start particularly well – we haven’t taken the trailer out since before my operation, we have a different car and just generally hadn’t quite prepared that side of things!  Once we’d located a key for the hitch lock, botch job attached the correct number plate to the trailer and pumped up the tires, I made my boyfriend drive along the yard track and back to convince me I was happy to put Pea in.  We have a bad track record of trailer outings being a bit stressful and this one was no exception.

HOWEVER, once we were there (only five minutes late) it was all worth it!  My instructor rode for a while which is so good for Pea because she doesn’t often (ever?) have anyone riding her who can actually ride!  She’s had fairly limited proper schooling in her ridden career and definitely showed that.  I then got on and had a lesson.  We are working on getting Pea more forward, accepting the contact and becoming more supple.

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I am SO aware that my instructor riding Pea set her up to go better for me than she does when I get on cold but it still wasn’t easy, I still had to find those buttons.  I feel like I rode better today than I did in my last lesson (before my operation) so I’m feeling very positive about where we are going riding-wise and I left with the biggest smile on my face!

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As you can see, being a fluffy, unrugged wild pony isn’t very conducive with being a dressage diva.. Pea was SWEATY.  If anyone has any bright suggestions as to how to deal with it I’d love to hear them – it is too cold for proper washing, is clipping my only option now?

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