~ Equestrian lifestyle blogger ~
~ Follow our journey ~


Monday, 26 June 2017

Qualifying for the Northern Regional Championships!

As most of you know from last week's competition report, we're members of the Newcastle riding club, and have been for a little over a year. It's a club that I used to be a member of with Buddy five or so years ago too.

Anyway, I put Louie & I forward for the summer area 2 qualifiers, very last minute on the entries closing date! There were also three other members interested, so we created a team and looked forward to the competition. The qualifiers were being held at Richmond Equestrian Centre, North Yorkshire, on Saturday 24th June. The day is run by volunteers from all the clubs in area 2 and they did a really great job, helping to point people in the right direction, rounding up from the warm up arenas and getting people out into the main arenas and into the correct test arena... If we didn't have volunteers in this sport, nothing would run, so it's always important to appreciate them.

There were 13 other teams entered for the Senior Prelim dressage competition would with a couple of individuals also going for qualification. Louie hadn't had a very consistent run recently in the dressage - he'd been very spooky at Benridge at the end of May, and while did some nice tests the week before, he was still very suspicious of everything around the arena! I felt a little bit under pressure to do a good test so as not to let the rest of the team down.

I've never been one to run completely through my test at home - I know a lot of people do, but I just never have. Instead, I practise movements from it - so I will always practise turns down the centre line, going all the way to A, or turning onto a circle part way down. We were doing prelim 18, which had a 3-loop serpentine in and a turn UP the centre line (C-A).

I'm lucky that our indoor is almost a perfect 20x40m arena, so early in the week, I headed in there and practised my serpentine turns, doing 10m circles on each loop, and although the movement was from the left rein, I did it from both to help supple up my turns and circles.

Now, I don't remember EVER riding up the centre line before!! So I thought, best give it a go, which actually was pointless - it's the same as coming down!! Louie knew no different, although, annoyingly in my test I overshot the centre line, where I didn't have enough balance in my H-C corner...

The night before, I gave Louie a quick 15-20 minutes in the school, doing loads of circles and changes of rein. One thing I've been working super hard on over the last few weeks is a steady and consistent contact, while keeping it elastic, so I wanted to practise this too. He went well and I was ready for the competition the next day.

Richmond is about an hour and a half from our yard, so I was thankful that we had a later time (12.39) which meant Louie could enjoy a night out in the field and I could get him washed and plaited in the morning.

We set off, and within 10 minutes, I was fast asleep!! Standard.

This was the furthest Louie has travelled so I was keen to make sure we got there in plenty of time, to give Louie some rest and be in no rush to get ready. I wanted to begin warming up half an hour before my test, and to be ready for about 12, so arriving at 11am gave us a good hour to grab something to eat and drink, watch a couple of the other tests, and find our way around where everything was and where we needed to go.

Louie enjoyed a full 30 minutes with his massage pad on while munching on some hay in the horsebox before coming off to be tacked up.

Off we headed to warm up. I went in very relaxed, and as there is a big long cafe down one side of the warm up arena we were in, I didn't expect Louie to want to be near that side of the arena. We used the three quarter line the first time of passing, but then after that, I think he quite enjoyed having a look at what everyone had to eat!!

He felt relaxed and even when we moved up to trot, he had a lovely swing to his movement. The warm up was mega busy - horses coming from all angles, with some posh looking Elementary horses powering up behind us and towards us!! This was the busiest warm up Louie had ever been in, and he coped amazingly - he never put a foot out of place, and wasn't put off at all by everything around him. I actually think it made him have to listen to me more, which he did, and he really felt he wanted to please me...

Soon enough, it was our turn to go. Off we headed outside...

I never like warming up inside then going outside, or vice versa, but today it didn't matter. Louie marched into the arena, and we trotted around as usual while waiting for the judge to toot us to start.

At A, the white board were raised onto the grass - I thought this would spooky Louie. It didn't. He's also had a problem recently with judges' cars... Again, he wasn't bothered, maybe because there was enough space to trot around it...

In we went... take a watch of how we go on...

So, obviously, we went wrong! I NEVER have a caller, and I very rarely go wrong!! I couldn't believe it - I had a total mind block when I came off my serpentine to C, and in a bit of a flap thought I was walking across the diagonal... No, I'd missed my left canter out!! Thankfully, as soon as the horn tooted, I realised, and was back to it again soon! 

Louie isn't great at dropping and picking up, so I was pleased how he carried on like a pro, just doing his job!

We scored 66.9% but in a class where the top mark was 74% and the lowest were around the 55%, I was fairly pleased, especially as it was only 1% from 6th place!

We headed back to the wagon - I was disappointed I'd gone wrong, but I didn't let it get me down because Louie had really done a great job. He concentrated, listened and just got on with his part of the job.

He enjoyed a good wash and brush down, and had a massage while eating his hay. We went for a wonder and enjoyed watching two other members of our club do their tests, as well as watching pairs dressage. 

I've never seen pair dressage before, but it was FANTASTIC to watch! Seeing two horses do a test together, with matching paces and movement was so clever! It must take a lot of practise to do it together so correctly and accurately, so I've got a lot of respect for the competitors in that section!

We stayed around for about an hour and a half after our test, before heading home. All the results weren't out but our team looked to have done, with my score of 66.9% and a 69% on the board already - there weren't many score above, so we had our fingers crossed.

It's been a long time since the club had any area represent at the summer qualifiers, so we were pleased with how we had all done individually. One member still had her riding test to do, so she kindly waited for all the test sheets.

But half way home, we got a FANTASTIC surprise message! The team has qualified for the Northern Regional Championships at Bishop Burton at the end of August!! Everyone was proud as punch, and so pleased - our phones were binging away all the way home!! We came 3rd out of 13 teams!!

Photo credit: Newcastle Riding Club

Being part of a team definitely has a great feel to it, and even before we did our test, it was good to enjoy the company of the other members from our team, as well as watching the others do some lovely tests!! If you're part of a riding club, you should try to get involved with group training, team competitions, and generally enjoy the social side of your club more!

& if you're not a member of a club, get involved - you can meet some really supportive people and enjoy doing what you do together, & even try a new thing or two!

So watch this space for how we get on at the Championships later this year!

Enjoyed reading this? Make sure you pin it!


  1. Mary Katherine Morris27 June 2017 at 00:27

    Congrats on qualifying! That is so exciting!

  2. Congratulations on qualifying, well done!!


Copyright @ Team Tunnah Equestrian. Blog Design by KotrynaBassDesign