Buddy and I set out for our very first solo dressage outing last weekend. It was a bit lastminute.com as I had made the decision the previous week but hadn't really had time to practise as much as I would like. Our canter is still a work in progress but I get moments of amazingness and he is getting the strength to be able to hold it for longer periods of time but Buddy needs the match practise as he can die on me when I go in for my test so we need to overcome that. Charlotte doesn't have anything to worry about yet.. maybe in a few months ;o)
We had lovely lazy times so I had plenty of time to prep on the morning of the show and B was looking very smart when we left. I have never been to a show on my own before so totally underestimated how long it takes doing things on your own so I was running late for my warm up and only got 15 minutes. It was peeing with rain the whole time and our warm up was tense and crabby with occassional moments of oh so nearly there. We just weren't on the same page but I didn't have time to do anything about it so in I went.
The test was, as expected, a bit bleurgh. His trot work was super and earned him 7's and 8's but his walk was lethargic and he broke in his canter which pulled those marks down. I was annoyed with him as he can do so much better but wrote it off. It was our worst test to date and scored us just shy of 55% which although it sounds terrible on paper, actually wasn't too bad and we finished in the top half out of 30 competitors.
We had an hour to dry off, eat haylage (Buddy) drink tea (me) and learn the second test. I had a chat with Buddy and told him I expected more this time. I think he must have listened as when I got on board he felt super. I'd left 30 mins for a warm up as he was so awful earlier and I had the perfect warm up. He felt awesome and people were telling me how smart he looked and they expected us to do really well. I was enjoying riding so much I obviously totally overcooked the warm up as he completely died on me when I went in for my test. I am no dressage expert but I'm 99.9% positive that pony club kicking and puffing like you've finished a marathon are not found on the scales of training and I don't think the judge approved.
On a positve note the canter (when he offered it) felt a million times better and the second test was much better at 60% but it was so frustrating to lose everything we had in the warm up as I think we would have been in contention for a frilly had he played ball. Again, the class had 25 in it but we finished in the top half (just!).
He is such a tricky customer as he can be sharp in the warm up but dies in the ring - I need to practise this more to overcome it and I may have to sacrifice some tests to really get him thinking forward as this will be an issue if I let it continue. But we are out again this weekend (glutton for punishment) and so I am hoping we will return to form - as this was Buddy's first outing without a frilly and I'd forgotten what it's like to not get one (spoilt? Me? Never :op )
As this wasn't a perfect session the positive things to take from this outing are:
- He looked fabulous
- He loaded three times without an issue
- We were on our lonesome and it was ok
- Our second warm up was great