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Monday, 21 March 2016

A Successful Day at the Dressage!

After being back onboard for just over a month, I decided to get Louie back out & about, and entered a local dressage competition. Louie has been coming on really well lately, especially in his canterwork! So I decided to have a go at our first ever prelim, along with an Intro to warm up to!

The day before we went on a lovely two hour hack with another livery - a great way to take his mind away from schooling & relax together. When we got back I knew I'd got all my cleaning to do!! However, Louie really has grown up, standing like a soldier to have his legs & tail washed, and falling asleep while I plaited and bandaged him! He wasn't too impressed when he had to have his lycra hood on though...I was worried he'd have shaken all his plaits out by morning!

Next morning, I was pleased to find all my plaits in place and no green stable stains - the day had started well! After a quick brush, we were ready to go!

Louie's plaits all still neatly in a row!

We arrived at the venue, and while it was quiet, calm and relaxed , there were still a fair few wagons and people bustling around. Louie stood quiet as a lamb on the horsebox while I got changed, had a natter and was ready to warm up.

Louie was VERY tense when he went in the warm up - walking around with short steps, head up in the air and his little ears nearly touching in the middle. He was like riding a whizzy pony!! But, as soon as I asked him to move into trot, he got his game face on, and was a super star from that point on!

In we went, and Louie had a little look at the flowers in the corners and judges hut, but on second time round, was relaxed and went on as if nothing was there! His test felt lovely and relaxed, although I felt he wasn't as off the leg as his is usually, and it wasn't quite as good as it has been at home, but I was pleased - it was our first time out since October!!

We went back to the wagon and waited until our next test - it was only 40mins wait, so wasn't too bad.

For my prelim warm up, all I really wanted to do was to canter on each rein. Louie finds striking off on the right more difficult so I wanted to make sure we had a correct transition each way, and didn't want to tire him out to make it more difficult for him. 

In the arena for our second test, again, he was nice and relaxed, though I could feel him getting tired (he'd used all his energy walking like a pony at the start!!) but he did a lovely test and nailed his transitions each way. He got tired towards the end so wasn't quite as off the leg or as energetic as I would have liked, but he produced a great test.

I gave him a wash down, and popped his massage pad on for half an hour, while we grabbed something to eat and drink, and collected my score sheet for the first test. I couldn't believe it - Louie was placed first!! 

He got some really encouraging comments from the judge, scored an 8 for his centre lines, and the judge even wrote 'Thank you' at the end of the overall comments!! I was so proud of my little baby Louie, in a class of about 10, against horses that were much more established and had done years of competing... I was thrilled!

We decided to wait for the second class sheet too, rather than coming back. I didn't expect to have done very well in this class - there were a lot of nice horses in the warm up, with good balance, looking much more established! Louie also hadn't felt as good in his test as he had at home, and it was our first ever Prelim test!

We came 4th!! I was thrilled - Louie couldn't figure out his four legs in canter before Christmas, and now he was 4th in a class of about 12!! His canterwork really has come on, but I was over the moon to think he had been placed above some of the horses that I had seen warming up!

We got Louie's rug and magnetic boots on, and headed home, big smiles on our faces, and very proud of baby Louie in the back!

We're definitely spurred on and motivated by this outing, so we'll be doing more and more training and competitions over the coming weeks.

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