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Monday, 8 October 2018

Dressage Competition Report - 07.10.2018

On the first cold morning that we've really had this autumn, we set off to Todburn Equestrian Center to enjoy a couple of prelim British Dressage tests. I decided last week that with just 8 weeks left of the winter qualification period, I'd aim to gather enough points at this level to qualify for Regionals.

What's needed to qualify? I now need to gather 20 points at this level and only points scored in tests with 66% or above will count towards these 20. So, that's my aim with 6 already in the bag from a test in July. After that, regardless of qualification, we're going to go back to pushing on at Novice level.

Our first test, Prelim 13, was on track with 67.69% and gathering 4 points, plus we won our section. However, a very harshly scored class in the next one, Prelim 14, gave us 63.65% and while taking 2 points, it didn't give us a qualifying result. To put this into context, the winner of this class also didn't get a qualifying score.

I left a little disappointed not to scoop the extra points towards qualification as with Area Festival Finals coming up and a mini break for Louie, I'm on borrowed time. However, I felt Louie went well, was obedient and we tried a slightly new way to activate and engage Louie's engine to drive him forward and more uphill into the contact. Fingers crossed the long term outcome will be very beneficial to our way of going & the quality of the paces.

So back to how the day went...

An early start...

Due to our first test time, we needed to leave the yard around 8am/8.10am, so I decided to get Louie bathed and washed the afternoon before. For the first time I think ever, Andrew wasn't on hand to help me out, so I set plenty of time out. To be fair, he had a pretty good reason...instead he was enjoying swimming with wild grey seals in the north sea just off the Farne Islands. I'm not sure I'd have fancied getting in the sea at those temperatures but a fantastic experience to enjoy!

Back to bathing... As it was a chilly afternoon, I decided to only wash what was absolutely necessary, plus Louie has been wearing a rug for the last few weeks so wasn't sporting too many stains on his body, or at least nothing that a stain remover couldn't shift.

So, after we came back from our afternoon hack, it was like military precision to have everything lined up and within easy access to get Louie's tail and sock washed. He often gets bored and a bit of a fidget, so I used my Equilibrium massage pad on his back for him to enjoy relaxing and snoozing while he was washed.

As he was being stabled overnight, I bandaged all four of his socks to keep them free from stable stains, and thankfully (I suppose!) it was due to be very cold overnight, so adding my Shires full hood under his stable rug and the neck attachment wasn't going to cause him to get too hot. Phew!!

So all that left me with was the removal of a few stains and plaiting in the morning. Great!

I arrived at the yard at 7am, and IT WAS COLD! Showing as two degrees on the car, I was glad my new coat from Boudica Equestrian had arrived. Louie had been a lovely & clean boy overnight, popping in almost one spot and wasn't sporting any of the stains I was dreading across the outside of his rug. I gave him his breakfast while I skipped out the muck, before beginning to plait while Louie had a munch on his haynet. 

My coat certainly was proving effective as I had to unzip it part way through plaiting as I was super warm! 

After finishing up plaiting, I braced myself to take Louie's rug off to reveal all of the stains. There was one - I was over the moon. A quick spray with a stain remover, and it was gone. So it was time to rug up and make sure we had everything on the wagon before setting off. Right on time, off we went!

Arriving at Todburn Equestrian Centre

I always aim to have 30 minutes before we need to get on to get myself changed, but also take off all of Louie's stain prevention - bandages, tail guard & bag, rugs - and tack him up. Right before getting on, I have a quick view of my test to make sure I'm clear on where to go.

As Louie isn't clipped, I had only planned to warm up for 20 minutes, however as it was a cooler morning, I gave it a little longer. I worked on exactly what our aim was in terms of getting Louie's way of going more forward and confident into the contact, incorporating lots of transitions both of the pace, but also within the pace, as well as leg yielding on circles.

Time soon passes, and it was time to head into the arena, so here's our test.

We had 30 minutes between tests, so I hopped off an stood at the horsebox for 10-15 minutes, enjoying a good catch up with our old friend Stevie Purves, who was at the venue to support one of his sponsored riders.We haven't caught up with him properly for a few years now, so it was good to have a chat and hear all he's been up to.

Giving myself a few minutes to run through my second test before heading back to the warm up, I spent 10 minutes getting Louie back into the contact and sharp on his transitions again. 

We headed into the arena, and had a good few minutes more before the judge beeped her horn for us to start. 

After giving Louie a cool off and a wash down back at the wagon, I popped his massage pad on & he enjoyed a munch standing on the horsebox while we grabbed a hot cup of tea and some snacks in the venue's cafe. I collected my test sheets and was very pleased to see that we'd been placed 1st in our first test, on a score of 67.69%, and second in our other test on 63.65%. 

Like I said, I was slightly disappointed with the score in the second test, but looking at the overall class, the winner was on 65%, and there were a couple of people in the high 50's too, so in context, I felt it was strong.

Across the two tests, I got a few comments that I hadn't received before, which I agree with and could feel for myself and believe they are connected to the tweaks I've made to made riding. I'm sure that over time these will be ironed out and be less visible throughout our tests.

Onwards & upwards!

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