Sorry for the length of time it has taken me to write about the dressage competition – and thank you for all of your lovely messages of congratulations. I was so impressed with Echo that day.
She was great to plait – I think she just fell asleep – and I managed to get my number of plaits down from 33 last time to 17, without them looking like golf balls – so I was happy! I didn’t wash her again, as I did all of that a couple of days before. As you can see from the photos, she wasn’t spotless, but she looked very smart.
I got on to warm up about 45 minutes before my test time, as I like to work in walk for at least 20 minutes at the beginning of a session – if not more – as it gets her much more obedient to my aids. I worked her as I normally would, but I was obviously a but more tense than usual. Still, she warmed up well and felt like she was bending nicely to the right, which always feels like an achievement!
When I went up to go in, at the time I was supposed to, I found that they were running late and I had about 15 more minutes. No!!! Nothing like timing your working in perfectly, then having to hang around spoiling it all for ages! The area they had assigned to working in was far too deep, so I didn’t go in there. Instead, I went up into a field to do a few more transitions. Echo’s never been ridden in there, so was on her toes, but I was single-mindedly bent on getting her hind-legs active and nothing else, so she had no choice but to behave!
The annoying thing about the test was the fact that I had to trot through the doors of the indoor school and go straight onto the centre line – she had no chance to have a trot round the edge to get used to it in there first. Bless her, her centre line was lovely – very straight and we got an 8 for it. Her track left was also really good, as she bent beautifully and felt very powerful. In fact the first third of the test felt great and we got mostly 7s with a couple of 8s. All good.
Started to a go a little wrong when we did our first canter. The transition and the 20 metre circle were great, but as I came out of the circle and had to canter to the corner, towards the (open!) door, she spooked at some sun beams making patterns on the floor. She jumped away from the track and so to correct it, I clamped my inside leg on. I managed to stop her coming off the track too far, but she shot off down the track and there was no way we were going to get a nice transition to trot in the corner. I finally hauled her back into trot at A, (where I was supposed to walk) and finally got walk in the next corner, where I had to start my free walk to B. Threw the reins at her and got a half-decent free walk – thank goodness. I was able to get my act together after that and rode the rest of the test correctly, albeit a little rushed after that. I did have a few issues getting a halt transition at G – thought she was going to trot right into the judges!
Given the circumstances, she was brilliant and it was great experience. I need to practise riding a little more precisely and getting my turns sorted in a small space. I also need to remember to not get flustered and mess up the rest of a test after something goes wrong. So easy to say, but SO difficult to do! We got 68%, which I was delighted with. But no rosette!!! I couldn’t believe it. They are giving rosettes to the overall placings at the end of the series of competitions. Talking of which, the next one is 24th May, so I had better get practising. I’m having a lesson with John on Saturday, which I really looking forward to – feels like I haven’t had a lesson for ages.