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Sunday, 6 September 2020

Dressage Competition Report - 06.09.2020

Team Tunnah Equestrian - Dressage Competition Report 06.09.2020


The day had FINALLY come for my first competition back since lockdown & since my accident! I was SO excited and it felt like weeks ago that I put the entry in...I was slightly apprehensive the evening before - it was over six months since we'd done a competition so I was worried about forgetting my test, not being able to plait well, remembering to take everything that I needed...


My times were 15.13 and 15.37 so I had a relaxed morning and decided to head to the yard for about 11.30. I wanted to leave at 13.30 so it gave me two hours to give Louie a bath & wash his tail, and plait. At my new yard (wonder when I stop calling it my new yard!?), we've a wash bay, with a hot water shower, so although Louie came in with an all-over yellowy-brown glow, a quick hose under warm water and a scrub soon got him clean. It took me 25 minutes to give his whole body a bath, wash his tail AND bright white & rinse his socks. A task that would have previously taken me probably double the time if I was on my own, and I think Louie actually enjoyed the warm water as he never shifted around!


Team Tunnah Equestrian - Bathing for Dressage


As I've mentioned in a previous round-up post, I've watched so many plaiting videos when I was laid up in bed, so I'd changed tactics when it came to plaiting this time. Instead of doing many small plaits, I tried to do nine broader plaits but knew I wasn't quick enough yet to sew them in. Nine turned into 11, but they were neat and in-line with each other. It took me four attempts to put a forelock plait in 🙈 The first attempt went off to the side, the second AND third the band snapped and while I jumped down to get another, Louie shook and it fell out! The forth was good enough!


Andrew arrived at the yard, and helped me to get the wagon ready and we left eight minutes later than I'd like, and as we pulled out of the yard, we remembered we needed fuel. So a short detour to the petrol station, and we were off. I wanted to arrive no later than 14.15, and we parked up at 14.20, so it was a quick change for me while Louie munched away on his hay, before I got Louie ready and headed to the warm-up for 14.40. 


Team Tunnah Equestrian - Tacking up for Dressage


I started for five minutes by letting Louie have a good walk around on a long rein to make sure he was relaxed, before moving up to the trot on a long rein, putting in plenty of 20m circles and changes of rein. I shortened my contact gradually and gave Louie a canter on each rein. I find that after his first canter, he is much more supple and pliable to move around the arena, but also like to make sure he was a good, loose trot before doing so. 


There were three things I wanted to remember while riding today:

  1. Rhythm - don't let it get too fast. I'd watch the last time we did these tests, and it was SO quick!
  2. Use the half halt to make sure Louie is off my leg
  3. Give & retake to help keep his neck soft, supple and taking the contact forward
That's it, well, and to remember my tests!


I worked on making sure Louie was off my leg throughout the warm-up, but without quickening his rhythm, so did plenty of transitions within the pace. Once I felt he was really responding well, I added in some lateral movements on the long sides and on 15m circles by leg yielding and asking for some steps of shoulder-in. I didn't want to do too much shoulder-in as he can become a bit crooked and backward thinking if I spend too long doing movements he finds a little more challenging. 


Next, we worked on the suppleness by using 15m circles again to trot and canter on, while asking for inside flexion. I played with varying degrees, sometimes extreme, sometimes just very slightly, and sometimes being straight. I find this really helps to soften Louie at the poll, behind the jaw and at the base of his neck, and makes him much looser overall when he lets go of those tension points.


Team Tunnah Equestrian - Dressage Warm Up


I wanted to move to the indoor warm-up arena at about 15.05, just so that Louie could have a trot around and get used to the different arena and light. Although a little cautious about a pile of poles on the top of the side, he went well, but to be honest, I never like the indoor part to this as it feels small and I always feel it takes away the forward feeling, but I worked on push Louie forward, into the contact but maintaining a good rhythm. 


Off we went into our first test...


A little caveat to the videos of my tests 😂 Moose was with us, so I'm not sure whether Andrew had had 10 pints or was just in a tug of war with Moose for most of the test, but he doesn't manage to capture most of it! 



Louie wasn't quite sure what to make of the judge's table, but I was pleased that after going past it off the centre line and again on the left rein, he got over it pretty quick. The test felt 'unpolished' which of course it will be after such a long break off. I didn't feel that it was as nice as we had been going in the outdoor warm-up; we'd had more consistency then. But, overall I was pleased with the test - Louie tried hard, he was obedient and we've plenty of opportunities now to polish it back up!


I didn't have long in between my tests, so my plan was to walk Louie off outside, then spend 5 minutes outside getting him off the leg again, before going back indoors for the last 5 minutes. However, no sooner did I get outside and walk once around, they called me back in. My heart sank, I thought I must have done something I shouldn't, but no, it was just to say I was allowed to go. I didn't expect this as I was down to be third in my class, and although I'd just finished a test, I'd dropped Louie and needed to pick him back up, but they'd changed the order due to a competitor being late and someone else struggling with their horse in the warm-up. 


So I took my 5 minutes inside, work on a walk-canter transition, did a canter-trot-canter across each diagonal, and a few flexions to help him become soft again. Really he could have done with a bit more of a break, but that's the way it goes on the day. This time last year, I'd have had a meltdown at this, and be so tense because of it, but I just didn't let it bother me. I was here as my first competition back out and wanted to just enjoy it, more than getting a good test. 


The test was pretty similar to the first, although I could feel Louie was a bit tired, as he dropped off the bridle and leg quickly if I lost concentration for a moment. But I also think I was tired. We'd been working for almost an hour, constantly doing flatwork, so we've both some way to go to get that full fitness back! 



I headed outdoors when we were done to give Louie a good cool off, although he wasn't actually that sweaty before going back to the wagon. After untacking, I washed Louie's tack area and between his legs, booted and bandaged him up, and popped him back on the horsebox. 


Team Tunnah Equestrian - Horsebox


With all the measures in place for Covid, I went to take my envelope to have my test sheets and rosettes posted to me at the end of the day, but the class had finished and both classes were already scored and the sheets laid out on a table. I was pleased to collect it and be able to read right away how we'd scored and what our comments were. But I was even more pleased to see that we got two strong scores - 66.96% for the first test (Novice 24) and 67.69% on the second (Novice 30)!! 


Team Tunnah Equestrian - Dressage Results


I'd seen when the times were posted that there were only 5 combinations in the first class and 4 in the second, with some good riders in each, even though it was unaffiliated, so I was over the moon to see that we came second in each class (& not last as I had anticipated!).


It definitely put a smile on my face, and I really tried to keep the self-critic at bay so I could just enjoy the feeling. I knew the tests weren't as good as the warm-up, and that the warm-up wasn't as good as we'd been at home, but I expected to come last and have horrible tests with a very spooky and naughty horse, but I got none of those. Now it's going to be all about polishing it up and working on getting back on track to where we would like to be for the end of this year.


Team Tunnah Equestrian - Novice 24 Dressage SheetTeam Tunnah Equestrian - Novice 30 Dressage Sheet


I headed home with Moose fast asleep with his head on my knee, he seemed to have enjoyed his little day out too, but it was a lot for his little puppy brain to take in, and we didn't hear much from him for the rest of the night! 🥰


It was lovely getting back to the yard, and all I needed to do was take Louie's boots & bandages off, skip the wagon and take my things out. I'm still getting used to that luxury feeling ❤️
I was back home by just before 6pm, so enjoyed a glass of cava in the bath while I watched my videos back and had a long soak 🛀


Louie will get tomorrow night off, before working on our showjumping training this week, as next weekend we head back for a training session with Philippa before the following weekend having a flatwork session with Cathy. I've not got any dressage competitions planned but will have a look over the next few days, so stay tuned to see where we will be off to next! 



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