Horses are a great leveller. Three weeks ago I had a great day competing and qualified as part of a team for the British Riding Clubs’ Novice Winter Championships. Last week we went to a combined training qualifier and I fell off in the warm-up for dressage. Horses will never let us get too big headed!
He had felt quite tense and bouncy when we first started but I thought he had settled and he was actually working very nicely in walk and trot. Then I asked for canter and he took off across the arena and exploded. I found myself on the floor.
I was only winded so we carried on but did not get our nice frame back before we had to go in to the test. It was not very pretty. The canter was far too fast (the judge said there was ‘much confusion’ in the transition) and he was resisting my aids the whole way round. We did get round though and the judge was very kind in her final comments, saying that perservering will be worth it.
He nearly threw me off twice more in the show jumping warm-up which was not encouraging but as before I was hoping that the extra space and the ability to keep him moving forward in the competition arena would help me out.
Thankfully, that did prove to be the case. We were rather too fast and overshot many of the turns but all that practice keeping my eyes on the next fence no matter what really paid off and we managed to clear all the fences in the right order. That was despite our stopping dead for no apparent reason as we went past a fence we had already jumped. I can only assume that he thought I was asking him to jump one of the huge cross country fences around the arena and didn’t fancy it!
Of course, our poor dressage performance meant that we stood no chance of a placing but it was good to finish on a positive note. If nothing else, it reinforced what I already knew – I am much better at jumping than dressage!