It’s fair to say that September started out very well! I returned from holiday full of enthusiasm and Mya was going brilliantly. I had set myself a goal of entering an online dressage test before Xmas but as Mya was going so well her owner Katie & I thought let’s just do it now! In September! After all 3 of us having had August completely off! We both entered the same class on Mya, the charity event that donated to Jo’s cervical cancer trust on Eriders.co.uk Prelim 1.
So I practiced once with Katie and once alone and we scheduled a date the week later to film the test with our good friend Nic. Feeling very happy with how Mya was going I was just really excited that we had reached a point where this is possible. If you have been following me for a while, I only started riding Mya a year ago & had quite a few issues with her over the winter that totally knocked my confidence.
Feeling eager I learnt prelim 1 off by heart (!!) and got my friend to film it. Now as my mum put it I was ‘ never very taken with dressage’ before. I have ridden on and off since I was 5 years old. But I love to jump, so now coming to learn a dressage test I’m realising it is actually very hard! Getting Mya going forward but not too much, (we had some braking issues in the practice session), keeping my heels down, toes in, elbows bent, hips relaxed…. all whilst making beautiful shapes with Mya who is meant to be going at the perfect speed and making perfect shapes at exactly the time I ask her to whilst in a beautiful outline…wow! Dressage is hard!!
The day we picked to film test was very windy. Not Mya’s perfect conditions but knowing there may not be another convenient time for us to do this we cracked on. Katie rode her first. Mya was pretty forward but did a lovely test for Katie after having some similar braking issues to me in their warm up. I was then my turn and suddenly I felt quite nervous. I had instigated this whole thing & now have my friends both very capable riders here and I got on and felt quite inadequate. I warmed up and started my test. It was tense & felt horrible. We continued to the second canter transition and stopped as we were on the wrong diagonal and the test was just blurgh. I then re did my test trying to remember that my besties weren’t judging me and I felt that Mya went well this time. The girls agreed and we decided to end it there.
Looking back at the video, My circles are sqircles, my transitions are not quite at the right places in the arena and our free walk is more like a giraffe impression. But I reminded myself what progress we had made to even be entering and that only months before we could not even canter large without spooks and bucks. So I submitted our tests. The first since 2007 for me and awaited the results…
Fast forward to October 1st and the results are in!
We came 21st in a class of 25. Oh. How disappointing! Now I knew I wouldn’t be in the top 6 but to be that near the bottom sucked. I then started thinking about the things even I knew went badly and felt a bit silly for entering. What was I thinking?! Doing a dressage test with barely any experience of dressage and barely any practice on a horse I’ve only just clicked with and not only that doing it very publicly making a blog & a vlog about it. I suddenly felt very silly.
I then looked at my mark. I had hoped for 60% and had said despite the placing I would be happy if I got 60% or above. Well wouldn’t know we got 61.5% – happy with that! Starting to feel less silly now. I looked up Katie’s results 12th with 65% brilliant & not a million points more than me! Ok ok I am calming down now. I then managed to find my sheets from the last dressage competition I did when I used to ride Bert. It was from 2007, I remember it was an evening riding club comp and I had been happy & came 4th. I searched for the score 59%!!! I was riding a lot back then and remember I was so pleased with that score and now with a lot less practice on a horse that hasn’t competed in years I have beaten my personal best! Woo hoo!
Yes in hindsight Katie and I jumped the gun a bit entering without much practice – that we will learn from. I am looking forward to receiving my score sheet so I can read the comments. But I have gone from feeling disappointed and silly to actually feeling pleased and chomping at the bit to do another test and get a better mark this month! So watch this space perhaps we are dressage divas in the making!!
To watch my first ever vlog of this experience click here
Copyright of Louise Dando & In Due Horse 2019.