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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Dressage Competition Report - 19/11/2017

On a cold but beautiful Sunday morning, we headed up to local venue Alnwick Ford Equestrian for our first dressage outing for a LONG time...since way back in September in fact!!

Enjoying a relaxing hack out the afternoon before in the fading autumnal cool sunshine without the pressure of getting ready the night before was a bonus. With both tests after 12 noon on the Sunday, I decided to wash Louie's socks and tail, and plait on the morning.

With the handy help of hot water, I was able to get Louie's socks & tail fairly white on the morning, before plaiting. I must be VERY out of practice because it seems to take a very long time & unusually I found it really difficult to get tight plaits into the thicker part of his mane... 😳 Still, at least Louie could stand & enjoy a massage with his Equilibrium pad on for longer!

We were soon ready for the off, so away we went...all of us wrapped up like Michelin men!!!

I always allow about 20 minutes for us to get changed and fully tacked up, so soon after we arrived I braved the cool jockey area to get changed and didn't hang about!! 😨

Next it was Louie's turn, & again, I kept as many layers on him while getting him tacked up. Thankfully I'd remembered my exercise sheet to help keep some warmth on his back.

We headed down to the warm up area for our first test - prelim 17, a long arena test.

Some people seem to panic at long arena tests, but actually, they are quite friendly. You have more space to work in between movements and I find, because they are a bit more spread out, I don't find they're as complicated to learn.

As I was doing two tests, I'd only learnt the first the night before - I had two hours between tests so it at least gave me something to do for ten minutes of our wait!

Back to the warm up... Louie usually feels a bit tense and takes a little longer to warm up initially, but on Sunday he was relaxed, almost feeling a little flat. The car park is quite stony so I wasn't sure if he had hurt his back feet where he doesn't wear shoes. As he didn't feel short or uneven, I ask for a little more bounce. I got just that, a LITTLE more bounce. He just didn't feel his usual self, with a floaty swing...

I took the decision to go into the test and see how he reacted. He lifted a little, but became a bit wooden and tense. He usually has a good check out of the judges in their hut at the end of the centre line at this venue. This time he didn't, so I trotted happily past, where Louie clearly felt he still needed to check it was me that wasn't asleep, taking a spook at the TINY flower behind 'M'... 🙄

I'd heard rumour that the judge was quite strict, so I didn't expect a good score but I was pleased to come out with 67.5%  which I felt was fair of our test. After the class had finished, I read through the comments before my second test and was really happy with how encouraging and constructive the comments were throughout, as well as the overall comment. I was thrilled to see that we scored 8's through, especially in our canter and for BOTH centre lines!! 😁

Here's a video of our test.

After giving Louie a ten minute walk around, I wrapped him back up to enjoy a massage while I headed for a hot drink to help warm up while learning my second test. Two hours in between tests seems a long time, but actually by the time I'd walked around after the test for 10 minutes, untacked, sorted Louie, put him on the wagon, got changed, grabbed a drink and chocolate treat, we only had about 15 minutes before I needed to get Louie & I ready again.

I never warm up for as long for my second test, which I reduced right down to 15 minutes being that I didn't feel we had a first energetic test. We did the basics and I worked on trying to put more energy and bounce into Louie's paces...

Off we went into our second test. This time I was ready for any cheeky and testing spooks, which thankfully Louie had forgotten all about! As we came past the judges hut and were rang the bell to start, there was a key change to the song playing, and a silly as it sounds, it really gave me a motivational feeling. I thought USE IT!

This test was much better. I was super pleased with how Louie had gone, with only one moment where he felt like he wasn't sure and came back up at me, but it only affected half of one of our diagonal lines.

Again, I walked Louie around after and wrapped him all back up, put his boots and bandages on, and popped him on the wagon to enjoy a good munch on some haylage. We headed back inside to wait for the class to finish & collect my test sheet.

I was thrilled to find out that our score (by the same judge as the first test) reflected how I'd felt the test was much better and we scored 71.25%, AND we came 5th!! I was really pleased with this as I'd notice there were a few combinations using this class as a warm up to a novice test. The comments throughout were again encouraging and constructive & I was pleased to see a number of 8's for movements, again, including our centre lines.

(Sorry to keep going on about centre lines but 60m is a long way to stay straight!)

The winner of both tests was the same combination - winning on a whopping score of 85% in each. However, there was a big void of scores in both test - down to 72% in second place for the first test and 74% in the second. While I provisionally thought my scores were miles off the pace, they weren't in reality - 5% in the first and just 2% in the second!!

Here's our video of our second test - just a shame the cameraman/groom ran out of memory to capture our final centre line!! 🙈

We haven't been out to dressage for so long so I was really pleased with how Louie had gone - it really showed me that my little baby horse is starting to mature and come into his own.

We're currently looking at where else we can go before Christmas, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for our next competition reports!

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  3. I hope you spend some nice time with Louie. Its good that you give a ten minute walk around. Your pictures are looking very cute with Louie. I hope you will share some more updates regarding your experiences and I would love to read more details about your journey.
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