Sunday was a beautiful day sandwiched between many days of rain, for which we were very grateful! Well before it was light the yard was a hive of activity with ponies being brushed and plaited left right and centre. Of course, as Galahad and Cookster are native ponies, we don’t have to worry about plaiting which saves a lot of time. Although, I did quite enjoy it when I had to do it.
We arrived in plenty of time but had some confusion with the parking so my warm up was a bit shorter than I would have liked. Galahad felt pretty good though and I was fairly confident when we went into the arena.
We walked around the arena once before Galahad decided that he would really rather be outside with Cookster and started cantering towards the gate. The only show he had ever been to been to with Cookster before this was a cross country event so, although he felt a bit wound up in the warm up there, it really didn’t matter once we started as I could let him run. It turns out it’s a bit trickier when you are trying to do a walk-trot dressage test!
Of course, it didn’t help that this time Galahad could actually hear Cookster calling him. They were both incredibly noisy – so much so that I didn’t hear the judge telling me I could start. We ended up doing the worst test of my life. Galahad never really relaxed, we cantered several times and our steering left a lot to be desired.
My sister was waiting outside and our instructor told her Galahad was being a toad. He was – he can do a very nice test – but it was also a learning experience for both of us. I learnt that Galahad needs much more time to settle when Cookster is there!
As soon as we finished I took Galahad as far from the arena as I could as I didn’t want to wind Cookster up if I could help it. It was just as well – Galahad was still calling and was extremely loud and shrill.
The judge evidently did not notice me leaving – she finished writing her comments, looked up and demanded the next competitor, even though my sister had already said hello to her. I suppose one Exmoor does look very much like another! Cookster and my sister did a very nice test and managed to come seventh. Unsurprisingly Galahad and I came last but the judge did commend me for keeping my composure.
We had a much better warm up for the pairs test, although when we practised passing each other the ponies were still calling. The test itself went very well – they worked together much better than they had been. We could ride much closer together than before as well. The sections where we had to work apart were still the best though – at some points the ponies’ steps were pretty much in sync and most of our crossings were spot on. There was just one where we were too much of a mirror image and my sister had to walk to avoid a collision. I was very pleased with the overall test though, especially as it was our first attempt. We managed a fifth in that class which I thought was pretty good.
I spent the rest of the afternoon wrapped in blankets writing for the judge. It was absolutely freezing but it is a job I quite enjoy as you can learn a lot from it. Plus it meant that I got free hot chocolate and cake which was very welcome!
Galahad and I may not have had the best of starts to the day but overall I think it went reasonably well. Cookster was amazing though and I was so proud of him.