We did a bit of dressage at the weekend. It hadn't really been planned, I had been given a free entry for helping the riding club set up some jumps, so figured it would be good to use it as a 'non jumping' schooling day out. Sensible to remind the mare that sometimes we go out in the trailer, but don't actually jump!
As I was seeing it as schooling rather than competing, I was calm and not nervous at all. The mare on the other hand was very wound up - a combination of plaiting her mane, and the daft livery owner deciding to mow her lawn about 3ft away from us. Now, the mare is actually pretty cool with things like this, but when someone is going backwards and forwards over the same sodding bit of lawn (and sticks, stones, dog treats, the garden shed, and God knows what else by the sound of it!) It even has an effect on a bombproof horse. I struggled to get the tail bandage on, and my darling horse of 10years booted me! Thankfully I was very close behind her so there wasn't much force behind it, and thankfully she is barefoot behind. But I have a beautiful round bruise the size of a golf ball on the side of my knee (bad leg, of course) Bloody creature.
So having got the beast ready, I loaded up her, me and kids and we were ready to go. The showground is less that 10mins away, so we were soon turning into the gateway. Just a little suggestion: If you are parked right by the gate at an event, and have rather a large entourage, please do not stand in the way, and then give me a dirty look when I get close to your horse. I would suggest moving your horse slightly, and possibly asking one of your entourage to open and close the gate for someone coming in, or at least pretend you haven't seen me, rather than gawping at me as though you have never seen anything so grubby in your life. This is very small riding club dressage, and you are clearly not Carl Hester.
Anyway, we parked up, I shared out cartons of juice, hot cross buns and Nintendo DS's between the children, got changed in the trailer and away we went. Amazingly, one of my fellow liveries turned up to lend a hand, and even more amazingly, so did my husband! (who was on call, and between calls at the time)
The mare felt amazing, I had to put my stirrups up a hole as I felt I was not quite in full control with the added oomph she had acquired that day, but she warmed up well, and before long it was our turn to go in.
Last time I did dressage I did the same test, Novice 24, under the same judge, at the same venue. The only difference was that I felt I could actually ride this time, and my horse didn't feel like we were doing the wall of death! There were still 'moments' that I felt it was best to just sit quietly and wait for her to relax, rather than fight with her. But on the whole I was absolutely delighted with the test. I was beaming and giving my horse a lovely big pat, the judge looked at us as though we were a complete disgrace! Now usually I am happy to admit that we are disgracing ourselves in some way, but this time I felt proud of my little horse and the work we had put in. One of my pet hates is snotty professionals. Yes you may be at a very low level, but they have absolutely no idea how fucking hard you have had to work to get that 52% and a bit of encouragement, be it a smile or a positive comment goes a long way. I've written for dressage judges at British Dressage events, and on the whole, they are pretty cool. They generally give a smile at the competitor, even if they are muttering to the writer "Oh dear, here we go!" (or worse)
I felt very pleased with our test, and felt the mare had redeemed herself for kicking me. One of the most disheartening things when competing is feeling you have done really well, only to look around and discover the standard is ridiculously high. Bugger! So imagine my amazement to see we had scored 61.9% (5% higher than last time!) and been placed 3rd overall, and second in the members section, also qualifying for the local Riding Club Championship!!! I practically skipped back to the car, blue and yellow rosettes fluttering in the wind, only for my darling daughter to say "But you didn't actually win, did you?"