Dancing in the Rain

Last weekend Galahad and I went to our first competition in several months.  It was a riding club dressage event and I was very happy to be out competing again.

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The warm up was slightly interesting – there were cross country jumps stacked around the arena which Galahad thought were pretty scary – I spent half my time trying to persuade him to go near them.  Then the rain started coming down in earnest.  I had forgotten my contact lenses and before long my glasses were covered with rain and I could barely see.

We got them cleaned up and ourselves into the indoor arena for our actual test.  Galahad settled down nicely and did what felt like a pretty good test.  I didn’t think it was amazing but he did everything I asked and – best of all – he picked up the correct canter lead on both reins.  As I said last week, that’s something on which we have really been working hard so I was especially pleased to get it right.

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Before long we were called for our second test and again it felt like a nice, safe clear round.  The canter leads were correct and this time our shapes felt a little more accurate.  I was so pleased with Galahad!

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Really, the canter leads made my day but it got better.  When the scores were posted I found I had scored 60.53% and 62.93%.  We got our usual comments about Galahad being, ‘Economical with the energy’ but the judge also made some nice comments about the trot which were good to see.  We placed second and fourth which was obviously great but even better the scores were good enough to qualify us for a local dressage championship next week.  So exciting!

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!

Trying New Things

Last month I decided it was about time I entered an online dressage competition.  I have been meaning to do so for ages and I was given the arena markers way back in March.

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I picked the event run by BHS Somerset but didn’t manage to film my test until the day before the deadline.  In fact it was the evening before, the light was fading fast and the camera really struggled with the dark – it kept going in and out of focus.  I wasn’t overly happy with the test – Galahad felt very sluggish – and I was debating whether to film again the next day.  However,  I wasn’t quite sure whether entering before the deadline meant entries on the day would count or not.  I decided to just enter and hope for the best.

At 11.30pm I set the video to upload but I had forgotten how long that would take.  I  sat up as long as I could but in the end I had to give up and go to bed.  It was just as well – it finally finished at about seven the next morning!

I had almost forgotten about it when last week this wonderful parcel arrived.

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I thought the judge was very kind to us and I love what she said about Galahad at the end.  Most of her comments were about needing to get him going forward more which I would definitely agree with!

It was a great experience and I will be entering again next month.   I will try to be more organised next time though!

TREC Winter Awards Show

For once we had a glorious day for our trec competition on Sunday.  It certainly helped bring a cheerful atmosphere to the final event of the winter season.  Although I wasn’t so sure when I saw these little people in the arena!

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They had a tarpaulin right behind them and I was sure Galahad was not going to like them one bit.  I was watching all the in hand competitors walking their course and bemoaning the fact that I hadn’t entered – at least then he would have got a chance to see them before I rode him at them.  I was told I was welcome to enter as someone had pulled out.  I jumped at the chance!

I hadn’t done a full in hand class before so my brain wasn’t really engaged.  I forgot I was meant to be walking as quickly as possible until we were halfway through the control of paces section and I completely forgot I could trot under the low branches.  I was really treating it as extra training for the ridden class.  I did notice that without me riding Galahad negotiated the s-bend with no trouble at all.  Clearly all our problems lie with my dodgy aids when riding!

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Photo credit: Rosie Squires

It was good fun though and I was pleased with how relaxed Galahad was  – he even walked straight past the gnomes with no trouble.   That did get us my favourite ever comment on the score sheet – ‘Slight gnome tension.’

I wasn’t expecting to place well at all as the other competitors had been doing this class many times over the winter.  However, my name kept not being called and we ended up winning.  It was a bit embarrassing really but obviously I was thrilled.  It was completely down to Galahad being sensible.

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Photo credit: Rosie Squires

We then went straight into our individual ridden class.  There were only two entries in this but I knew the others were more than capable of beating us.  The control of paces went well – hopefully we have cracked that now – but the first ridden obstacle was bending.  Galahad went round the first two posts and then just charged past the rest. Not a good start. The rest of the course felt a bit messy and worst of all was the immobility.  We have never scored less than a ten for that but on Sunday he only stood still for six seconds.  It was just one of those days.  On the bright side the gnomes were not an issue at all.

The gate was still a problem though – we didn’t even manage to open it.  We did show an improvement as Galahad would actually stand next to it this time. Baby steps.

 We went a little better in the pairs class.  The gate was still an issue but the immobility was back on track and we managed to do the bending properly.  It wasn’t pretty  – we had some very wide turns – but we did complete it with no mishap.

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Photo credit: Rosie Squires

The prize giving was again a bit of a surprise.  We were the only entry in the pairs class so we were expecting to win that (our first sash!) but we had also just managed to scrape the prize in the individual class.  We got a trophy for that one. Galahad stood like a rock and let our rosette and trophy be handed up to me.  I was incredibly proud of him but I got off before we received the sash.  That would have been pushing it too far!

Not only that, as this was the final event of the season the league prizes were presented and we were reserve champion in the novice rider class.  At the beginning of the season that was such an unlikely event that I didn’t even consider it.  We have worked hard though and the improvement in Galahad has been amazing.  I am so proud of how far he has come.

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