Sunday, 23 October 2011

Almond RC Dressage 23-10-11

So to follow up on a very successful initial post-injury dressage outing, Hopalong and I were entered for two prelim tests at our riding club show- one of which was a long arena test (20m x 60m instead of 20m x 40m) which we've never done before!

It was at our "home from home" again, aka SNEC and P13 (short arena) was first.  We stuck with the warm up tactics that had seemed to work last time out and did what felt like a really nice test.  :D  Still plenty to work on with some of the upwards transitions, but it felt just as nice as our previous outing, so I was hopeful of a good score.  However, I was not expecting to find out our score was 72.82% with plenty of 8s through the sheet and a 9 (for our halt)!!!

This left us 1st out of about 15 competitors, what a clever Hopalong!  :D

We had just over an hour until our next test, so she was untacked and left to munch her haynet while I had a blether with friends, then it was time to tack up again and tackle the long arena test.  I'm pretty sure she thought we were back to eventing as when I got back on board again she took off at speed towards the arena, maybe expecting to see SJs and then XC after?! ;)  Sadly for us both, just more stressage! ;)

Didn't warm up as long as I would have liked/intended to as the stewards were very keen to get us in due to running early.  But did a nice test, not as nice as the first time, just a little more tense as we hadn't muddled about in the warm up long enough I think.  And boy is 60m a long way to try trotting in a straight line! ;)

But still pleased and definitely better than we would have done last year.  Took Hopalong home to roll in the field and get muddy again (since it's only 15mins in the trailer to her yard) and then went back along to check scores.  I was very pleased to see a score of 65.22% and even more pleased/surprised to see another red rosette attached to the sheet- another 1st place! :D  Lots of carrots and pears for Hopalong again. :D

I think these results leave us in a pretty good position to join in the Riding Club Team Dressage competition in a few weeks time... ;)  Fingers crossed we can do as well then with added team pressure!

Prelim 13 photos;

P15 photos;

Sunday, 9 October 2011

First competitive outing post-injury!

So having got the thumbs up from both the vet and our RC dressage trainer, I entered Hopalong and I for a dressage test at SNEC's unaffiliated dressage competition.  Since it was our first time out, I took the lazy option of only learning/doing one test...! ;)

I spent the morning bathing and plaiting (even stitched her plaits in properly instead of "cheating" with rubber bands, although was cursing this after the first couple since the needle was very slippy and I couldn't grip it easily, so it seemed to take forever!) and got to SNEC with plenty time to pick up my number then tack up.

I had decided to try a new approach towards warming up- previously I've done a little warm up, then stopped to watch a test or two before doing a few minutes final warm up before going in for our test. However, I wondered if this was partly to blame for Hopalong often switching off? So I allowed enough time to walk around for 5mins on a loose rein to stretch off and loosen up, then 20mins warm up to be treated like a normal schooling session with the same exercises I do at home, breaks to be free walk on a long rein here and there, but no properly stopping to switch off.

And it seemed to work! :) She warmed up really nicely, we went straight over to the arena when it was our turn and bar a couple of "gawky" moments at the judge's box and coffee bar nearby initially, I had enough time to keep her moving, circling and get her nice, soft and relaxed again before the bell went to start.

The test felt really good compared to previous tests from last year where she was resistant and more interested in what was happening outside of the arena! She stayed mostly soft and listening throughout (we had a few "pokey" moments in our transitions which is our weak area and to be worked on over the winter!) and she just got a little tense when I picked up my reins again after the free walk on a long rein. The judge had a quick word at the end of the test and said the movement could have scored an 8 without the tension at the end and gave me a tip on how to pick the reins up better to prevent this, so will try that next time! :)

Favourite action shot of the day! :D
Big hug for clever H!
I came out of the test absolutely thrilled with her (and had a wee happy cry as I couldn't believe that only a few months ago she was on field rest and I had no idea if I'd be able to ride her again, never mind compete again) and she was rewarded with lots of polos. :D
Bob making sure she is fed an adequate number of polos!
A wee walk around to cool down, then back to the trailer and her haynet which appeared to be all she was interested in. ;) Nice quick journey home and back out to the field to undo the morning's work getting her clean and enjoy a good roll in the mud!

I went back to check out our score and was over the moon (and very shocked) to see it was 70.53%!  A personal best and we ended up being 4th out of 23 in the class, really unexpected, but so pleased. :)  Fingers crossed it wasn't a fluke result and we can repeat it next time out. ;)  Next competition lined up is our RC dressage show on 23rd Oct, with a training session before that on Friday 14th.  We're even going to attempt a long arena dressage test (20m x 60m instead of the usual 20m x 40m), which will be interesting- 60m is a long way to trot in a straight line! ;)

Photos courtesy of Bob (multi-tasking photographer and polo-feeder!)