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Thursday, 22 November 2018

Dressage Competition Report - 18.11.2018

As you'll have read, we've stepped up to Novice recently & my main aim before the end of the November was to achieve three 62%+ scores to make sure we have our 2019 PetPlan Area Festival qualification. We already had two scores from our dressage competition at Todburn the week before, so we needed one final score to be qualified. I'm SUPER pleased to say we got it, so why did we leave at the end of the day feeling a little glum?

As well as a competition report, this post will demonstrate how important it is to reflect, take the positives and use a not so good day to create a plan to produce good days!

GREAT NEWS! A later time due to being in classes further into the day which meant I didn't need to get ready on the Saturday evening at all. It was well timed, as I had my Mum visiting from Spain, so it gave me a much more relaxed evening to spend quality time with her. But...it did mean an early start on Sunday, although not too bad as I set the alarm for 7am.

I got to the yard at 8am and wanted to start with washing Louie's socks and tail. Andrew was in full super groom mode as always, and was on hand again to double team Louie's legs and help with the hot water for his tail. Afterwards, he headed home for some breakfast and to pick my Mum up while I plaited Louie, gave him a good brush and lifted any stable stains (it wasn't too bad this week!)

I'd allowed myself more than enough time as I wanted to leave around 10.30am, but as I was ready not much after 10am, we set off, knowing I'd got to fuel the horsebox it was a much better feeling leaving early! Plus it gave us time to have a coffee when we arrived while Louie enjoyed a munch on his haynet & watching the world go by.

Louie warmed up well, and I used some of the exercises that we'd practiced with Cathy earlier in the week to aid our suppleness and ensure I had Louie between leg and hand. He responded well, and felt loose, with a good swing in his back.

Novice 24

I'm still surprised at how different this test is to a prelim considering it is one of the lower Novices - movement come up thick & fast, it's twisty and theres a few movements that aren't really even prepared for at prelim... 

All that said, I like it. It stops you just sitting there and enjoying the ride round. You have to use your corners to get organised, you have to prepare your movements and you have to be thinking ahead of where you are.

Louie came into the arena a little spookier than usual - I'm not sure if it was the change of light or that there's a lot going on down one long side. When he is spooky, he becomes really inconsistent against the leg - one stride he's there, ready & waiting for instruction, the next he is as far behind it as you can get. It makes for very difficult riding, and doesn't help us with our natural weakness which is keeping him supple over his back and not dipping up behind the contact.

He settled, but was a little too quick, and because of the inconsistency against the leg, slowing my rise into the corners to make better use of them, resulted in almost walking abruptly. He was also too tense in his back, which during a test that is as busy as this, is difficult to shake off. I'd also made the mistake in the warm up of practicing our change of canter leads through trot, which I think well and truly confused Louie when it came to asking for a few medium strides... but he did do some nice upward canter transitions across the diagonals!! 🙈

Here's our test...

I had an hour and a half between tests, so while Louie enjoyed a massage with his Equilibrium pad, I grabbed a hot drink and watched a few tests, some of which were of the next class starting so it helped me to make sure I'd really learnt my test.

The results of the first class came out, and I was really pleased to see the score. Although it wasn't our highest, it was above what we needed at 63.7%. We'd made the two mistakes on our diagonals, as well as a couple of spooks, and I knew Louie wasn't carrying the same swing as he usually did across his back, so I thought it was fair.

Novice 34

This test was quite so demanding, although it had 10m trot circles back to the track and asking for medium canter down the long sides, you had more time in between to prepare & plan.

Louie came in more content than the first test, although still not relaxed, but then I probably never am truly so he'll pick up on that. It means a lot to me to do well (against myself, not the competition) and produce a nicely presented test, so I've no doubts I tighten up as I go in.

I hadn't done the canter through trot movements in the warm up, deliberately to try to make our medium trot come through. Unfortunately, I think I asked a little too hard resulting in a canter transition AGAIN...I did the same on the second medium trot movement, so was scored heavily down on each of those to a 4....

During one of my canter lead changes (going from left to right), I took an extra few strides to get a good trot to then strike off which meant it was late, so lost some points there, which then was marked even further down as I let my lower leg slip back on the downward transition resulting in Louie bucking!!! 

Those little few mistakes that were scattered across my test made Louie keep losing any suppleness I was able to get. Louie is a worrier when he thinks things are incorrect or that he hasn't pleased, and becomes quite insular. So our overall test was a bit rough around the edges.

However, all that said, each of the movements that we had those little mistakes in, moved from an average of a 7 down to 4's, and as we were 10% off the winner, it left me quite positive that if we could correct some of these small errors, we'd have been pretty well settled in the class. I was ver pleased to see an 8 for our free walk - something we've worked on over the last month or two, shifting it from a previous 5-6. If I use this as a motivator, I'm confident it won't be long before we've got things back on track 😊

What's next?

As we've been very busy in November, I hadn't got any competitions planned for December, instead starting again in the new year. Our flatwork training will continue with a couple of sessions with Cathy already planned in. But I've also going to give our showjumping a good crack and seeing if I can get Louie more confident with many things so that he listens to my leg and is confident to go (over!) whatever I ask him to. Stay tuned to see how we got on - we've already been to our first training session in well over two months and it was a GREAT success! 👍

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