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Sunday, 13 August 2017

Dressage at Leamside Equestrian

7am never seems a good time to have to set your alarm for on a Sunday morning, but this week, I didn't mind too much as it was time for our first dressage competition since the riding club qualifiers at the end of June. We were without a saddle for a couple of weeks at the end of July, so we were keen to get back to it and be out & about!

As soon as we got our new saddle, we popped an entry in for an unaffiliated dressage competition just outside Durham at Leamside Equestrian. I took Louie here back in 2015 for some jump training, but haven't been since, so it was a good opportunity to get him into a new environment ahead of the Northern Championships at the end of the month.

I always give myself plenty of time at the yard to bring in, feed, wash, plait and brush, so leaving at 10am meant I arrived at the yard at 8am. Louie was as far away as could be - as always when it's competition day - and enjoyed his breakfast before I started washing his tail and legs. I always do this first, then give his back legs a quick towel dry and bandage them while I am plaiting.

Louie enjoying a quick wash in the early morning sunshine!

We had plenty of time this morning, so rather than doing my (unlucky) 13 plaits, I managed 17 plaits. Louie always looks much smarter with more, smaller plaits down his neck, so it's a good use of some spare time!

Giving Louie one quick final brush, we were ready to go!

We had to make a quick pitstop for some diesel on route, and lucky we did. When Andrew hopped out the horse box, he noticed a burning smell, and when looking at the back of the wagon, noticed that the back right tyre & wheel arch was EXTREMELY hot, and was very definitely where the smell was coming from...

After a quick phone call to a mechanic friend, we decided it wasn't worth the risk & headed back home. Louie looked very confused when we opened the ramp up to see the same place he had just come from!

Fortunately, the same friend was able to look at the horse box, but their garage was further north than Morpeth. Andrew zoomed off, but I was sceptical as to whether he would make it back in time!! We'd already missed our allocated time, but after speaking to the venue, they moved us to the end of the class during a break, one hour after we should have been. I'm really very appreciative for how accommodating the venue was for us - it's the first time I've ever had to call ahead to a venue so it was nice to be met with a very understanding and friendly voice at the other end!

Time was tight & I started to think I wasn't going to be going anywhere!

Andrew managed to make it back to the yard for what I had set as my cut off time. I loaded Louie again, and we were off!! We had 45 minutes to get there, which would allow a 15-20 minute warm up.

Worst luck - traffic on the A1. The journey took nearly an hour, and I hope I didn't put too many oncoming drivers off while having to get changed in full view in the cab!! 🙈

We made it! By the time I got Louie unloaded and popped my boots, hat and jacket on, we have a whopping 10 minutes to warm up... A walk, trot and a canter on each rein, and it was our turn.

Here's where I am so pleased with Louie but also with me. I tend to get very easily flustered by these sorts of things, making me tense. The venue has fantastic facilities - proper post and rail arena boards, cone markers and a judges TABLE! That's all new for Louie, and he was a bit spooky when we first went in, but soon settled and gave me time before the bell.

A couple of months ago, I'd have let the tension of the day's events coupled with Louie's green spookiness really become a vicious cycle, getting very limited amounts of good work, but I just relaxed and thought 'What else can really go wrong!?' Plus, in the back of my mind, I was pleased get Louie in an arena like this, as it is likely to be similar at Bishop Burton in a few weeks.

We scored a respectable 67.06% and came fourth. I was really pleased. The winner and second place were on 73% & 72%, with third place on 67.75%. I know that we could have produced some movements better had we had a little longer in the warm up, but all considered, I was very pleased!!

Take a look at my test - Prelim 2 - below.

Thankfully, the journey home was much less eventful, and Louie enjoyed a nibble on his haylage before going back out in the field ❤️

Don't forget to Pin this dressage competition report!


  1. Very well done! Considering your lack of warm up time and rush, being able to keep a calm head on you is really impressive! ����

    1. Thank you! It was a good test of riding under pressure, and fingers crossed we just need a bit of fine tuning for our test in a few weeks (& a longer warm up!!) :)

  2. Oh wow, thank goodness the tire was fixed and you found it! I would have been quite anxious but it seems like you and Louie handled it well! Great job.

    1. Thanks Heather! I would have been very stressed if we'd have gone straight there, worrying that something could set on fire. But thankfully, with a quick fix, we managed to get on our way...even if a little late!

  3. Well done for persevering. Great result especially with all the challenges on the way!

    1. Thanks Katie. I knew it wasn't going to be one of our best test, but I was pleased how well Louie took to the arena and that I didn't let any of the stress & pressure get to me! :)

  4. This totally warms my heart. What a wonderful turn of events. And great job not getting in your nerves and doing so well! You'll remember this day long down the road.

  5. Great score, well done! And how nice the venue was!!

    1. It was a really fancy venue! I'll definitely be going back for some more competitions in the future! :)


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