I realised the other day, that I’ve only done 10 dressage tests in my life! This came as a bit of a surprise as despite feeling rather out of my depth at times, I felt like I’d been doing this forever. 10 tests is absolutely nothing. No wonder things don’t always go to plan, and if I come up against problems in the ring I don’t know how to fix them. We’re doing a lot of schooling work at home (and should probably chill and hack more) but many of the problems in the test never happen at home, so I don’t get to practice how to fix them.
We only did 3 unaffs before Saf’s loading issues left both Claire and I nervous wrecks and decided that at Saf’s age it just wasn’t worth it. We then started hacking to Bluegate, which only runs affiliated shows. This is enough to put the fear of God into anyone as inexperienced as I, but it’s such a lovely venue and everyone is so friendly I never feel out of place.
Saf is easy going, and I’m so lucky to have this lovely mare who doesn’t mind that her rider is nervous when she goes into a test. She doesn’t stress but she doesn’t understand why I’m suddenly riding differently when I’m trying to remember what I need to do next. I’m not concentrating on my inside leg, so that goes walkies, then she bends the other way because of it.
I’ve learnt P17 for tomorrow, it’s a nice symmetrical test which I looked at a couple of times and memorised straight away. There’s little point (to me) in having it called as I don’t learn the letters, just the patterns. I’ve ridden it a few times at home – in our newly extended grass arena, dodging knee high grass and thistles, and pony-lawnmowers grazing just where we needed to go.
Tomorrow I’m going to try to be more conscious of what I’m actually doing, rather than merely steering her round. Every corner I’m going to use as an opportunity to balance her and get our bend correct. The trot work shouldn’t be a concern as she’s going so well at home, canter, well we’ll see how it goes! Wish us luck!