Oh my, I’ve never been in such conflict with myself.
Tilly or Fox, Fox or Tilly? Who to choose, who to choose. It’s a tough one!!! The cause of my problems stems from today’s ride. Initially I was supposed to be riding Fox for the whole lesson so I could practice the dressage test, seeing as he’s the horse I picked for it. The test being next week with us not having gone through it at all yet…
Remarkably I’ve actually somehow managed to memorise it. God knows how. More on that later though. After a bit of humming and harring by the staff, I ended up starting the lesson on Tilly instead because there was an issue horsing everyone correctly etc. So Becky started off on Fox, and I had Tilly. Which, to be honest, I was not too impressed about as she was not even remotely close to anything I would have chosen to ride a dressage test on and the last time I rode her she was an absolute pig of a pony. But, we got on with it, because that’s what you do in those situations.
And I’m glad I did, because she ended up being really rather fabulous. She worked hard, responded beautifully and was a very nice ride indeed. There were a couple of minor disagreements regarding stopping, but it was nothing to worry about particularly. When it came to then riding through the dressage test I figured I mayaswell give it a go on her to start with, and then try it on Foxy afterwards.
Which is when I realised I actually knew the test. Emma asked us if anyone had learned it to which I said “I think I know most of it” and quickly checked a couple of bits before heading off to have a go. Tilly was a little bit funny at first, as everyone else had just left the arena so she tried to go with them. To be fair to her, she’s only a baby and having all the others walk out of the arena and leave her in their on her own must have been a bit confusing and scary. But she moved on when I asked her to. I settled her and Emma called out “ding ding” to tell me I could start the test.
I forgot that I’d even been unsure about the test at all once I started. I knew exactly where I was meant to be going at exactly what point. Tilly was beautifully behaved apart from one small blip on the circle cantering to the left. It was less of a 20m circle and more of an odd egg shape. I had my outside aids on but it may well be that they could have been stronger, as she drifted out horrendously on her shoulder. Apart from that though, she did a nice test and even stretched down well in the free walk on a long rein. She kept a nice regular rhythm in the trot, responded perfectly to my aids and I could feel her starting to work into the contact a little bit. I was very pleased with her indeed…apart from that one circle. And for a baby, it was highly commendable indeed. Emma said that all the other aspects would have got me good marks and that she thought I did a very nice test with her and should consider having her for the actual thing instead.
She told me to try it on Fox as well though, and see what I thought having ridden them both. So that I did. After a brief moment of panic of Fox’s part when the others went to walk around the block while I was being legged up onto him which resulted in him trotting off across the yard, me not having yet got hold of my stirrups wondering what the hell was going on, and someone shouting at the others to stop so that we could catch up. Once we were with the others, he relaxed completely as if there’d never been anything to worry about in the first place.
When it came to the actual test though, I was slightly frustrated. I took the decision not to carry a whip, as I felt he’d already been wound up enough and didn’t need anything to spark him into cantering off. I then regretted that decision as he was utterly lazy. Every stride of trot I could feel him starting to try and come back to walk, his canter left a lot to be desired and although the transitions were okay, something just felt a bit off.
I think the fact that I didn’t really get much chance to ride him before doing the test won’t have helped, as the first half of the test was more to do with getting us connected than anything else. By the time he started responding and listening better, we were already finishing up. So now I don’t know what to do at all. Because I really did want to do it on him, and I feel that if I was able to warm him up properly from the start, and get it together a bit more, we’d do a nice enough test. I do want to do it as well as I can, not to get the highest marks, but to get a sense of achievement over the whole thing.
And according to Emma, I did it well on Tilly. So now I’m considering switching to her instead. Thing is, on a bad day, they’re both as bad as each other. She’s a baby so she has days where she’s totally stubborn, refuses to move off the leg, decides she doesn’t understand any of the aids and starts trying to rear and buck the whole time. If she’s on one of those days…there’s no way I’m doing a dressage test on her! Fox, on the other hand, has his days where canter involves just taking off around the arena until he decides to stop, any leg aid is a request to go faster and trot means walk. So…I’m stuck really.
Why do I always pick the awkward ones?!
I’ll need to make a decision at some point though. Unless I ask to do the test on both of them and then take my better score as the actual thing? Not sure they’ll go for that. Something about it being unfair. Whatever.
In other news, we have a yard Christmas tree. It’s beautiful. We decorated it today. Well, I say we. Poor Eileen was chucked up a rather rickety ladder to throw tinsel and baubles at the upper branches while Kelly very strictly directed the placement of baubles lower down. Baubles were not allowed to be hung near baubles of a similar size or colour. Nor was it okay for any two baubles on branches next to each other to hang to the same length. The tinsel, on the other hand, kind of got thrown at the tree. We all got a little bit excited by the shiny. I say we. I mean me. I like tinsel.
The lights were then turned on and it looked so very lovely and Christmassy. The most fun part of all of this is going to be watching every single horse coming down the B side of the school have a complete mental meltdown when they see it. Heaven forbid the wind should blow causing tinsel and baubles to sway. Certain horses may never recover from such a sight. Fox, Victor; I’m looking at you!
I can’t wait ’til we get our Christmas decorations down from the loft. Tinsel tinsel tinsel! I intend to wear it.
All of it.