A Most Exciting Day

Yesterday the ponies and I went to the riding club dressage competition.  This one was held at my instructor’s yard so we were wonderfully relaxed and at home.  It felt strange not to be going away to compete but it was fun to be involved in the set up.

Cookster and I did the Intro C dressage test.  We are not quite ready for a canter test yet – our steering can be dodgy and we often lack impulsion – but our walk and trot tests are definitely improving.

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He felt nice and responsive in the warm up and was actually going forward which was gratifying.  He was a little wobbly in the test itself  and very noisy – he kept calling for Galahad and the judge commented that we could have done with some music to go with his vocals!

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This was only our third test though and I was extremely pleased with how he went.  We ended up with a score of 63% and a fourth place so I was thrilled.

I had time for a quick cup of tea and then I had to get Galahad ready for the pairs class.  My sister couldn’t ride with me so I had recruited one of the children on the yard.  Our practices had definitely improved but we were not expecting much – for two ponies who live together they were not really working very well as a pair.  Galahad tried to bite Cookster more than once and Cookster was determined to play follow my leader instead of riding side by side.

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Having two ponies to compete is wonderful but it does keep you busy!

However, once we got into the arena I was pleasantly surprised.  There was no fighting at all and although we definitely lacked impulsion – I had to work very hard to keep Cookster up with Galahad – we were more or less together most of the time.  It certainly felt much better than any of the practices had done and was a lot of fun.

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Some of the other pairs had looked very good though so we were not really expecting to place very high.  However, at the prize giving our names kept not being called until there were only two pairs left.  I had picked the other pair as the winner and so I was convinced we would be called next.  We weren’t though which meant we had won the class with 68%.  We were both astonished but absolutely delighted.

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Cookster was very miffed he didn’t get to eat the Easter egg!

After that excitement I had to calm down to take Galahad in for the Prelim 13 test.  I had never done that one before but I really like the way it flows.  Galahad felt great warming up but by this point I was freezing – it was a beautiful day but the wind was icy.

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I kept my coat on as long as I possibly could!

The test felt pretty good and not rushed as it can do sometimes.  Most important for me though was that we got the correct canter lead on the right rein.  That is a major achievement for us and meant that no matter the result it was a successful test for me.  In fact, we came fourth with 66% and were the best of the senior competitors.  It was a very successful day for the junior riders!

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Once the ponies were away I had to rush and write for the judge.  It’s a job I find very interesting and it is possible to learn a lot from hearing all the comments as the tests are ridden.  I also found it fascinating watching the novice tests as I could see that some of the movements were very similar to the ones we had done in the prelim test but just slightly more advanced.  It shows how we need to be working to improve.

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‘We’ve been working hard all day – where’s our dinner?’

I had the most wonderful day and was so proud of both ponies – they really did work hard.

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Unexpected Rewards

There are many benefits to riding ponies but this is not one I was expecting.

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I’ve never had my name printed on a rosette before!

My riding club held its AGM and annual awards show last week.  I went along expecting a fun evening but not any awards – an Exmoor pony doesn’t normally win enough points to compete with the blood horses!

I had no idea there was an prize for adults riding ponies so I was very surprised and absolutely thrilled when I won it.  I’ve never received an annual award before and it was a wonderful feeling.  I am so proud of Galahad.

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I had a great evening and came away enthused about working hard next year – which is really the whole point.

Championship Pony!

I have written before about the dressage tests Galahad and I did for BHS Somerset’s online competition over the summer.  As we had two scores over 64% we qualified for the championship in October – quite an achievement for us!

I  was very aware that the main comments we had for our previous tests were that Galahad needed to be more forward so I was really focusing on that for this test.  I struggled to get him bending to the right but at least he wasn’t feeling sluggish.   In fact, he felt far too rushed from on top.

When I watched the film back, however, it didn’t look rushed at all – clearly I have got too used to Galahad’s usual pace so that the right energy feels too much!

My score sheet just came through along with a lovely rosette and the best score we have ever received.  We actually got the same score as the rider in fourth place but didn’t do so well in the collective marks.

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We got some wonderful comments from the judge and it was a great way to end the season.  We will definitely be taking part again next year!