Not A Dressage Horse Then

So…that could have gone better.

It was our dressage test day today. I eventually decided to ride Mr Fox anyway, because he was the one I originally picked and I wanted to give him a chance. So I spent a nice 45 minutes or so grooming him, making him beautiful and lavishing some love on him which he seemed to really enjoy. He was even very good about me removing mud from his ears and poll which he’s usually funny about. I brushed his mane too! He was pretty relaxed through the whole grooming process actually, which was nice.

Warming up in the indoor arena wasn’t too bad either. It got a little tight when there were five of us in there with four of them needing a good amount of space to move around in for a variety of reasons. But Fox was pretty well behaved and I felt happy enough with him. The only thing that bothered me a little was that I was told I couldn’t ride him with his martingale on as it wasn’t allowed in a dressage test. And I’ve not ridden him without his martingale before…let alone tried to canter a 20m circle without one!

We were second up on the list, so we watched Ellie and Victor do theirs and then headed in to trot around the arena while Angie and Eileen finished writing the score sheet. The first half of the test went pretty well to be honest. He was a little unsure about the white boards that were put out to mark the edges of the arena, but he was willing and responsive enough. The first canter circle was fine, nice and controlled, and only had a slight resistance to the transition down to trot. After changing the rein, we went to pick up right lead canter. As I asked for the transition I knew straight away that it wasn’t going to end so well. Fox took off like a rocket, tripping over some of the edge boards and careering around the school. After eventually bringing him back to trot I asked if I could try again. And, once again, we went for a little gallop around the arena. Only this time, he decided to ignore my aids to turn, tried to jump the corner block of the markers and almost pitched me over the gate at the side of the school. I stayed put, however, and brought him back down to trot again.

This time, it was suggested that rather than trying again, I just continue from where the canter would have ended. So we did our free walk on a long rein, during which he stretched down quite happily and we finished off fairly well. I did, however, realise that I was probably going to receive a score of about 6 for the whole thing due to the beautiful canter work, if I wasn’t eliminated altogether for going outside of the markers and messing up the test. Emma suggested I try again on a different horse so that I could ride a complete test and maybe get a score that reflected a dressage test rather than a royal screw up. She didn’t use those words as such…but I read between the lines.

So I got legged up onto Tarzan and headed off back to the indoor school to warm up all over again. Which was an interesting experience. Cha and Georgia were there when I first arrived, but they soon headed off to do their tests, so Tarzan and I were left in the indoor arena on our own. Which involved freaking out and trying to canter instead of walking. Turns out he doesn’t really like coming back to trot from canter either, he got a bit strong on the transitions and jolted me around a fair bit. Which obviously filled me with joy when it came to the thought of doing a dressage test on him.

In the end, he was alright. Very very VERY stiff in both directions, but we cantered circles without a problem and managed to get the downward transitions in just about the right place. Although I doubt I did particularly well on him either. But there you go.

I didn’t choose Fox to get a good score, I chose him because I enjoy riding him and wanted to see if he could do it. And apart from the crazy canter stuff, he did some of it quite nicely. He’s not a dressage horse, but he’s still lovely. He’s taken to giving me quiet little greetings when I walk across the yard now. Which is very sweet indeed. He even nickered at me when I came towards him with his tack this morning. Bless.

There’s my boy. It’s a fairly old picture, but he still looks lovely. I do love him so.

So I guess I’ll just have to wait until next week to find out how terribly I did in the end. Continuing in my vein of Foxy talk, yesterday Sonya gave me and Tillie a jump lesson in the afternoon and guess who rode Foxy again. Yup, that would be me. And he was pretty awesome, again. There were a few moments where he got over-excited, and I wasn’t quite ready so I got left behind the movement as we went over the jump and landed with a bit of a thump on his back which sent him off into a panicky speedy canter. But on the whole, we did okay.

It was a good learning curve actually, when it came to understanding how to adjust distances between jumps. Sonya originally had the double set up at 21ft which is a perfectly normal distance, but seemed to encourage Fox to lose himself a little bit. When she shortened it up to 18ft, he was much more contained and responsive to me as we went through. And once we re-established the trust after the couple of less brilliant jumps, he lowered his head again and I rode less defensively.

Sonya also came out with a new term during the lesson; “Megan Mellow”. Apparently I am so relaxed it’s almost too relaxed. Which is fine a lot of the time, and one of the reasons I get on with Fox so well, but according to Sonya sometimes I ride too quietly. It only takes a little nudge from someone for me to remember to be firmer. Everything is a learning curve though. I’ll get there eventually.

In the meantime I shall just continue to enjoy riding Foxy, among others. And continue panicking about Christmas. Because I have no idea what to do about it. At all.



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