Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Area Festivals in the bag!

We started the bank holiday weekend with a British Dressage outing to Fairoak Grange. The only aim was to get over 62% in one class so that I have my sheets for Area Festivals in August but I also wanted to work on my test riding to see if I could relax, ride and try and get some of the same quality of work at a show as I do at home and in my lessons.

#hindleg #heelfirst
Despite having loads of time initially I ended up being in a bit of a rush to get ready and chucked B on the lorry, whizzed round the corner and threw his tack on! He was a bit googly eyed in the warm up so I concentrated on getting him off my seat and bending. I am spending the majority of my time in the warm up in walk at the moment, once he is supple and soft we move into trot and only have a quick canter before we go in. He still worries a bit when another horse comes cantering towards him but he is getting so much better and just stops now rather than executing a pirouette off in the other direction!!
We went into the test and he felt a bit tight and tense but before I'd had a chance to trot round the arena the bell went and it was time to go in. I was pleased with the test, we did the bits we were supposed to when we were supposed to but for some reason my circle riding was really off - it wasn't commented on but when I watched the video I gave myself a slap on the wrist. I also cringed when I saw my final halt - he felt incredibly wonky when I halted but on the video it doesn't look too bad and I should have left it rather than fiddled - lesson learnt! I did not ride to the best of my ability at all and was disappointed that I was tense through my elbows but it's a huge improvement from where we were so I just need to work on improving more now. We didn't have too many comments on our sheet but I agreed with the ones that were there and we achieved 65% so our final qualifying score.

I hopped off, let B have a breather before our second test (P19) which is a long arena test and is the AF test we will be riding. To try and help me focus on riding the test my lovely YO came and read it for me and I felt it made a big difference. I was much happier with the work we did and felt I rode better as well. Circles were a bit dodgy again but I thought there was an improvement from the first test. Was disappointed to see that we only achieved 60.91% and I have been left scratching my head again as to what it is that judges are looking for at this level. I was also very confused to see that my right canter achieved 5's with the only comment 'abrupt to trot' but my left canter got 6's despite the comments 'v hollow and strong' (he did bog off up the long side and if you could see my face it would be hilarious). Anyway - the test is below so you can judge for yourself - you'll miss the first centre line as videographer pressed the wrong button.

I am over the moon that we set out what we achieved and that we are now qualified for AFs which is exciting. However I am getting more and more confused as to what the judges actually want at this level . I know I have rose tinted specs on about my beautiful boy but I don't see how tests that are pretty consistent in the level of work can vary so considerably - my scores doing BD have ranged from 56% - 71% - its actually incredibly disheartening. However, now that we are qualified the focus is back onto Team Quest - we are back at Wellington this weekend - and I just hope we have a good result for the team this time as I'm sick of being the team let down!

Still from P19 video - looking smart!
 I am planning to just keep getting out there and riding tests as I'm sure that part is letting us down so I am going to be on the lookout for test riding clinics over the next few weeks as well as doing our TQ competitions to keep our competition eye in. I have also decided to do a couple of online dressage tests as I want to see if being at home makes a significant % difference as well. If it does then that'll give me a kick up the bottom to nail this out and about!

Full of confidence over the 'rainbow'
Enjoying our extended weekend (why can't it be a 3 day weekend every weekend?) we went XC schooling at Boomerang. As I compete and train on my own 99.9999% of the time I struggle to get out XC schooling as I need someone on the ground so when an opportunity came to train with someone new I took it! I joined the novice group as I just wanted a confidence boosting session and I also wanted to try out the new saddle. B started off pretty keen but not really listening or using his back end so the focus was for me to keep him balanced, keep a supporting leg on and keep more contact into the fence. This made a huge difference to B's jump immediately and we grew in confidence. We didn't jump anything massive but conquered a course of barrels, step up, log, train, rainbow log (see pic), log, step down and through the water. He was storming and I had a huge grin on my face - mission accomplished! From this session I think my old saddle was affecting Buddy's confidence as much as mine and he didn't feel completely happy either as if it went wrong and he worried I would also lose my balance so it was making him worry even more about making a mistake so I am hoping that now that's sorted we will go from strength to strength.

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