Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Dressage Championships: 07.06.15

As I've mentioned recently, Ernest and I have been having lessons again and changing quite a few things. We were seeing some good results already, such as Ernest rounding better and being more supple, as well as reacting to my aids.

I was looking forward to the Championships to try and put into practice our new riding skills. Our championship class was Prelim 17, but I'd also entered a Grass Roots Badminton qualifier - for people with no British Eventing or British Dressage points and who haven't competed above Novice. The two who came 1st or 2nd in the class would qualify for Badminton in July. I've never entered a class like this before, but I thought why not? If we qualify, it would be amazing, but even so it would be great practice. The test for this class was Prelim 13.

The warm up for Prelim 17 was promising. I tried to ride exactly as I had in our lesson the day before, working on his flexibility, suppleness and listening to my leg. Ernest is still a little resistant in the canter so I knew that would lose us marks, and as he didn't buck I knew perhaps I wasn't being assertive enough! As Nadine said, though, having a fight with him in a competition warm up arena is not the place to do it. 

We came 5th in the Championship (P17) with 64.23%. I was pleased because he was much rounder and I didn't feel like I was fighting to keep him round, either. We lost a little impulsion (which is energy and not speed) and our final centre line was... interesting, but that just gave me something to work on for the next test! He always pulls me down the final centre line, so I was fighting him quite a lot. His head went wonky! 

The judge's comments for P17 were: 'Sweet pony, attentive & regular in pace but needs to be much softer through the neck to an elastic contact'. Judges always comment on how wonderful Ernest is! The comment didn't surprise me, either, as there were times - particularly in the canter - where he braced himself against my hand. 

A serious case of final-centre-line-excitement

There was a four-and-a-half hour wait between my first and second tests. Luckily we came prepared with a big picnic, so we relaxed in the sun (and burnt) while eating sandwiches, cakes and penguin bars. Yum! Ernest had his haynet to keep him content.

When the wait was finally over, I realised I may have made an error in entering the Badminton qualifier: there were a lot of bouncy beasts in the warm up arena! Thankfully most of them weren't in the same class, but a few were left and I realised that this wasn't for people like me, who actually rode at Prelim / Novice level. It was for those taking their dressage horses out for the first time, horses who would move up the ranks to much bigger, affiliated competitions. There were also two judges!

In a way, it took the pressure off, and a couple of us in the warm up had the same feeling. So I went into the test just hoping to improve on my last one.

We came 3rd with 69.58%, missing out on qualifying by 0.42%. I couldn't believe it - there I was, talking myself down when actually we were up there with the big guns! One of the judges gave us a very big smile at the end, which was encouraging. I know that if we carry on training how we have been, we'll be scoring some pretty high marks soon.

The first judge's comments said: 'A super pony and very well presented test. Need to be more supple through the back for more fluency and more acceptance of the contact in the transitions and your marks will go up. Accurately ridden.' She gave us 68.54% and a 7.5 for my riding!

The second judge's comments said: 'Horse has 3 correct paces just needs to be more supple to help outline and bend. Well done.' He gave us 70.63% and a 7 for my riding.

So, I know there's still a way to go in the areas I've already talked about. We've got three weeks until the Festival of Dressage, where I'm hoping to do a Prelim and Novice, so hopefully we'll continue improving in that time. I'm so proud of little Biffy - he worked his beautiful big butt off and was well-behaved all day, even during that long gap between tests.

1 comment:

  1. There's now a complete set of photos and videos on my website www.simonsfotos.co.uk . Here's the link (copy & paste) http://www.simonsfotos.co.uk/sparsholt-dressage-7th-june-2015.html