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Monday, 30 May 2016

Dressage Day Out

It's been a while since Louie and I went out to a competition - the last dressage competition was in March!! We've been so busy with training, lessons and enjoy evening & weekend long hacks, that we'd not really given competitions a second thought!

However, recently we've been hiring a local venue's arenas to do some more jumping away from home - we don't have the best choice of fillers at home so getting Louie over more is crucial.

We noticed that this venue had a small dressage summer series taking place - with a beautiful indoor and even better outdoor, we thought we'd give it a go! I was very wrong with a small series, as all Intro and Prelim classes were cut into two sections. I thought it would be really busy, but there was plenty of space to park, and the wagon park was quiet, with lots of people just enjoying the sunshine!!

The warm up however, was a little more chaotic!! This is definitely something that I miss about doing British Dressage classes - competitors sticking to etiquette in the warm up. There must have been 10-12 horses warming up, with almost no-one going left to left, or understanding why I was walking on the inside track...!! But it was all good for Louie to be in the mix. He took straight to his work, warming up lovely, listening to what I was asking and where I wanted him to go.

We'd entered two Prelim tests - the first was Prelim 15. This was the first time I'd ever done a test in a long arena, and without knowing my letters of a 20mx40m arena (I learn patterns of where to go & when to do movements!!), I was worried, I go across on the wrong diagonal, or make my transition at the wrong point, or make my circles mis-shapen. Thankfully I didn't do any of that, and just felt a lot more space to do my test in - I wouldn't hesitate doing one again!

Louie came in and was a little tense, but was obedient and put in a good test, perhaps a little quick in rhythm, our canter transitions lacked a bit of spark & inconsistent in contact in places, but overall a nice test - see the video below. He scored 61.3% which I thought was fair, expecting low 60's. While this was some way off the winner and we weren't placed, I was really pleased with Louie, and for the first time didn't wholly feel that the score reflected our test in relation to the rest of the class entries.

Our second test was Prelim 2, and back into the 20x40m arena. I'd have preferred doing this one first as the arena did feel smaller after being in the longer test first!! Louie was a bit more tired for this test, so did in places go behind the leg, but he came into the arena much more relaxed and was still obedient and listening. He still wasn't as sharpe off the leg for canter transitions, but went when asked, and did some nice canter work overall. A video of our test is below - we even got a little round of applause by people sat around the arena at the end (something I'm not used to at all, but Louie took it all in his stride!!) We scored 65.86% & weren't placed, but were just 2% off the winning score, so it was a tight section!!

I was really pleased with how Louie worked and behaved - he was very willing, looked to me for direction and was super ease to handle. We were a little disheartened by our first placing in the section, but we didn't let it spoil our day - Louie was faultless.

We all had a great day out, and Louie clearly doesn't think much to be sparkling white!! Must remember this if we untack and graze between tests....thankfully, this time, it was after my second test!!

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