Friday, 5 July 2013

Sparsholt Festival of Dressage

If this was a meeting, I would apologise for any absences, so I apologise for my absence. But I would like to announce my trio of good luck:
  1. I got a first in my degree, and a first for my dissertation! Yaaaaay.
  2. Ernest and I came first in our competition last Sunday (more details to follow).
  3. I have work experience as a Publishing Assistant in October with 3PM Magazine Subscriptions.
You can't see it but on the serviette is the word "First" :)
Now let me tell you all about The Festival of Dressage at Sparsholt, Hampshire. Ernest and I haven't competed since November, so I was super excited to get out there again. The Festival took place from Friday 28th June to Sunday 30th June, with both affiliated and unaffiliated competitions, ranging from Prelim to Advanced Medium and beyond. There were also dressage to music classes.

We competed in Prelim 19 and Novice 22. It was really nice weather, which was lovely, but it meant we couldn't warm up for too long.
Now, my first dressage test (P19) was AWFUL. I rode really badly: long reins, flap flap flap. I missed marks on accuracy because my reins were too long, so I didn't have a good contact; this is important because if your reins are too long in dressage, you can't really steer properly or contain all the energy as you push the horse forward. Which also helps to explain why me flap-flapping was useless; it's not giving Ernest any accurate signal as to what I want him to do. Go faster? Flap flap. Go slower? Flap flap.
However, we still managed to get 64.09%, and earn an 8/10 for our entry down the centre line of the school to start the test, and 8/10 for our final centre line and halt, which was square!
This means that all four feet were nicely in a square, without one slightly in front or behind.
All marks are out of 10 in dressage, except free walk on a long rein and the collective marks, which include paces, impulsion, submission and rider, which are worth double. So if you are joint with someone, they look at your collective marks to see who has the most marks.
When I upload the videos, look out for the world's worst canter transition, and the nice square halt at the end.
I'm glad I rode this awful test, because when I was warming up for Novice, I remembered all the things I did wrong previously and tried to correct them. So my reins were shorter and I became much more effective with my leg, asking Ernest for a lot more impulsion - this is not speed but energy - and thereby getting a nicer contact.
A nice contact means when the horse or pony is rounder, instead of the neck being all long like a dinosaur.
The warm up was miles better, and we even got some steps of medium trot, which is what we'd been working on in preparation for the competition. Funnily enough, Ernest doesn't have a problem with medium canter!
Medium trot is when the stride covers more ground, so is effectively bigger, but not faster. The stride is lengthened and the horse really has to have the back end engaged, to have the impulsion to move forward.
I was really chuffed with our Novice. I rode much better, and as a result he moved a lot better. I missed some accuracy because I didn't quite hear my caller, but she couldn't exactly bellow because there were lots of other tests happening at the same time. However, I was much happier with this test and came out feeling like I'd ridden to an acceptable level for a Novice test.
The levels are Prelim, Novice, Elementary, Medium, Advanced Medium, Advanced, and beyond that you really are hot stuff.
We got 62.41%, and came joint 10th. I didn't get any medium trot in the test, it was really pleasing to get a few strides in the warm up, so I can learn what a medium trot should feel like.
 Ernest chilling after his dressage.
We did Novice 22 again on Sunday, but were inside this time. There was decorative shrubbery around the outside of the white markers, which Ernest kept spooking at, so I felt a little annoyed because normally he doesn't spook at anything.
However, taking what I'd learnt from yesterday, we had an effective warm up so I was ready to ride properly. I felt like I was fighting him around the test, and in the top corner you can see on the video I'm having to be quite firm with my hand to stop him messing around.
I came out of this test feeling frustrated, because I felt I'd had to fight him around the arena, but upon watching the test back (my mum videos my tests - invaluable), I was pleased to find that you really can't see it. My friend, and trainer, pointed out that rather than "fighting" him, I was actually having to ride him to a more effective level.
And, to my astonishment, we actually won the test with 66.90%!
To my surprise, we also won a lot of cool prizes, as well as a really big rosette:
  • A photo shoot worth £100 from Centaur Photographic
  • A £10 voucher from Wish Bands
  • Equilite's Sore No-More "The Sauce", for equine hoof and skin conditions
  • A full initial assessment and treatment by a chiropractor or hypnotherapist, worth £60, from Your Mind Your Body
  • A Don Harry browband
  • A £40 gift certificate from The Balanced Rider
Another bonus from Sunday was meeting Dickie Davies, former TV presenter on ITV's World of Sport. I was standing Ernest in the shade after our Novice, and he came over to talk to me about Ernest's colour. He was really friendly to both me and my friend, and very complimentary about Ernest, so that was a cool addition to the good luck of the weekend.


1 comment:

  1. Awesome, and i can see what you mean by him being all freckly! congratulations :) xxx