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!)

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