Well, Echo and I are taking part in our first dressage competition on Sunday and...I'm really nervous! I'm also really looking forward to it, but it's so long since I've ridden a dressage test and so I'm bound to be a bit rusty.
I've practised it a couple of times and there's nothing difficult in it. In fact, that's almost the problem - there's a lot of trotting round the outside of the arena and we don't tend to do much of this in our schooling. When I was practising it, I found Echo wanted to do shoulder-in or leg-yielding or something - she isn't used to having to trot the length of the arena just...straight! So we've been working on this, and we've been working on changing the rein through two half 20 metre circles. Unfortunately, the test asks for it from the left rein to the right rein(our more difficult rein...) and so getting the right bend is a little tricky, but we'll be ok!
I rode her last night and she went really well. It was interesting actually - she had been going quite averagely for the first 20minutes or so - not doing anything wrong, just not bending that well and not really using herself. Then she just suddenly seemed to click. I did one halt to trot transition and she was like "Oh...I get it - weight on the hind legs - why didn't you say so!?" Technically, I think I had been saying so.
She suddenly became flexible in her bend - she felt like plasticine - it felt as if I could have coiled her round my inside leg if I wanted to. She remained quite heavy in my hands, so I constantly had to remind her to keep her carriage up, but through her body felt fantastic. I've been doing quite a bit of sitting trot recently and it seems to have really helped with engaging her hind legs. I can't decide whether or not to do sitting trot in the test on Sunday. Really, at prelim level, I would expect to do it in rising trot, but I definitely get a more uphill, powerful, connected trot when I'm sitting. I guess I'll see how she feels when I warm up.
One last thing - as I'm hoping to do a few shows this summer, I thought it was about time I got my lovely riding boots fixed. They've been sitting in a cupboard with broken zips for the last year, but I have now had them mended and I rode in them last night. It doesn't make sense to me that a pair of boots can make a difference to the way one rides, but I could put money on the fact that I rode better last night in my Cavallos than I do in my yard boots and chaps. I really don't know why this would be though.
Wish us luck for Sunday - I can't ride on Saturday, which is annoying, but it might mean she's fresher. Sunday morning will be spent washing, trimming, plaiting and generally getting organised. I shall endeavour to take some photos of the day too - and if at all possible, I'll hijack someone with a video camera for the actual test.