Sunday, 3 December 2017

Dressage Competition Report - 02/12/2017

Earlier this week, I took the plunge to re-affiliate my membership to British Dressage and joined Louie up for the first time. I'd managed to find time in my work schedule to take a long weekend, so thought a Saturday dressage competition was a great way to spend one of the days!!


After all of the wet weather we have had over the last week, I wasn't looking forward to bathing, and working back from our first test time, I was due to start washing at about 8am. So I thought I'd try something a bit different - washing his tail and legs the evening before. With the icy conditions outside, I opted for the "warmth" of the barn, using buckets of warm water and a sponge brush. Thankfully, Andrew was on hand to keep us topped up on clean water. After a quick towel dry, I bandaged all four legs for the night. I knew that the fronts would be fine, but wasn't sure whether I'd find some stains on his back legs where he had pooped through the night.


When I got home, I went back online to find out my numbers to have my number discs ready and to hand - a friend lent me hers with the new BD rule of wearing two, so I had to text her my numbers. It's a good job I had to check, as I found my times had been moved by TWO HOURS!! Thankfully back, so there was no pressure to be quicker. But it did just mean that I had to keep Louie in until we left at about 11.45!


Next morning I headed up to muck out and plait, before heading home for a shower before coming back to the yard to leave. It was actually quite nice to come back and forth to relax before leaving! I'd been to a Christmas sale earlier in the week at Carr's Billington in Morpeth and bought some NAF Plait It Up to help give me a bit of better grip when I'm plaiting Louie. I'll do a proper product review in due course, but initial thoughts were that it was good and made plait that bit easier.


Off we set just before noon, with about 45 minutes to the venue. With the help of the sat nav we arrived in good time, but found a VERY muddy car park - oh no! My white socks!!! It was a chilly day and a bit grim looking, but at least it was dry and there was no cold wind. After finding my bearings at the venue as it has been a couple of years since I was last there, I headed back to the wagon to get ready. I'd noticed on the way back that the warm up was VERY wet...

I got Louie off the wagon and apprehensively took his bandages off, not knowing what colour they would be, but really knowing with the ground conditions around me, it didn't matter too much! They were lovely and bright white. We tacked up quickly with the cold, and all I needed to do was pop my boots, jacket and hat. I hopped on and rode into the warm, choosing to not even glance at Louie's socks...


Louie had a good 5-7 minute walk around to explore the new venue and arena, before starting his warm up. Although there were only four or five other horses warming up, it was a bit manic at points as everyone was trying to avoid the worst of the water. I was really impressed with Louie, he just ploughed on through all of the arena, not bothered at all by the water and puddles. I hadn't actually given this any thought until I saw a couple of horses shying away from walking through them and backing off as they came to them.

In the cold, I start my warm up with an exercise sheet on, before taking it off before we start out canter work. Once again, super groom Andrew was on hand to whip it off for us, and hang onto it until we finished. It was soon our turn, and we headed to the indoor arena.

Prelim 2

The indoor arena was lovely - a nice surface, nice and bright, with room all the way around to have a brief trot before our test.I really don't like starting our test inside the board and turning off the track to the centre line. The first centre line is the first test impression to the judge, so getting this straight is something I always work on . Being able to come down the centre line from outside, means you can straighten up before you enter at 'A'.

Down one of the long sides, was a cafe, viewing area, judges box, another viewing area with some stalls, and at the end were the toilets. Lots to look at, lots going on, and all fairly close to the boards. Louie is a bit nosy, so enjoyed having a good look inside everything when we trotted around the edge! We were beeped to start just after we passed the judges car, and away we went.


I was pleased with my test, as although Louie was fairly green along the long side and had some tense moments after as a result, he did a quiet and obedient test. Nothing flashy, but I was pleased at how well Louie had reacted to coming into a new place with a bit of something going on. I was pleased to see the result at the end of the class was 64.14% coming 3rd in our section, and 4th in the overall class. There was just over 2% between our score and the winner so I was really pleased that the bits in between his greenness were of quality.

We had about an hour and a half before our next test, so Louie enjoyed a massage with his Equilibrium pad while having a munch on the horsebox and a bit of a snooze, while I learnt my second test and grabbed a bite to eat in the form of some very not-so-healthy snacks!

The time passed fairly quickly, and it was soon time to warm up again. This time I only allow 15 minutes or so, so as not to drain his energy too much. He warmed up well again, and off we headed in for our test. I was aiming for a more relaxed test with Louie being less put off by the surrounding distractions.

Prelim 13 

My test again was obedient and accurate, two things I always aim for. Louie felt much softer and more confident around the arena, although still a bit suspicious of everything down the side. I really enjoyed riding the test and smiled at several points throughout to how well Louie was reacting to me. I've been working really hard recently on 'feeding his neck' to help take the contact out and along more, and tried to use this in the test.

I came out giving Louie lots of pats and telling him he was a good boy, and with both of us wearing a big smile!!


I always walk Louie off for a few minutes when I come out of my tests, so while Andrew got everything ready for going home we walked around the warm up. I made sure we quickly wrapped Louie up in his travelling rugs, magnetic boots and took all of his plaits out, before I enjoyed putting on the warmth of my padded trousers, about 100 coats, and my Rab gloves. Andrew didn't seem to have as many layer, so we headed to grabbed a cup of tea while we waited for the score & test sheets. Luckily I was third last in the running order, so the wait wasn't too long.


The score sheet was pinned up and I was AMAZED to see my name at the top of it!! It was such a fantastic feeling - my baby little horsey Louie at the top of a score sheet when I'd watched all these beautiful horses trotting around the warm up... I felt such a big sense of achievement, and was super proud that all the hard work and determination was really starting to pay off. Next time someone tells me it will.... I might actually believe them!!!

Louie looking very casual about his day out!

This might be our last competition before Christmas, but we'll still be out and about, so pop back soon to see all we've been up to!
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1 comment:

  1. Wonderful. I mean I never ever thought about this horse get up and the place is amazing. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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