Lessons to be learnt. 

Last weekend we competed in the area 5 HT at Solihull riding club. I was feeling up for it despite the boiling hot weather and my times being slap bang in the middle of the day! 

Chino was feeling good whilst warming up, reactive to the leg and feeling quite supple. He’s still quite stiff on the left rein but he’s improved in the last 2 weeks with the massages and schooling so I was feeling hopeful about the dressage. 

That was until about 1 minute in when I heard the bell…wtf was my immediate thought followed by ‘you blithering idiot you’ve gone wrong!’ Turns out I cantered instead of looped and to make matters worse, it was a brilliant transition which we didn’t quite replicate again!! With the mistake rectified and firmly shoved to the back of my mind we completed the test with no other mistakes…well so I thought until husband informed me I walked at H instead of C! Oh bugger…what had got into me! I went back to the box feeing positive despite my two mistakes- it was the best he’d gone and I was feeling hopeful for a good score and I’d just have to accept the low mark for my mistake at A and the 2 penalties. 

As I had quite a wait for the the SJ I walked the xc course which held no concerns for me with Chino and knew he’d fly round it. Once back I tacked up and went to warmup for the sj. It was in there that he decided that then was a great time to pull out his dressage moves wowing me with some nice medium trot paces- why couldn’t he do that kinda thing in the dressage ring!?! 

He was feeling rather excited to be jumping- think we both feel dressage is just something we’ll have to put up with in the eventing world! Once in the ring and after his mild meltdown at the brush fence on the sideline (?!) off we flew until fence three where I failed to balance him around the corner and he thought there was something far more important in the warmup ring so the front pole fell! After that however, we jumped clear. I think jumping him bigger recently has made him try a little harder so he actually jumped them rather than making out they were too big as he used to do! 

With 4 faults in the bag I knew we’d have to go clear inside the time in the xc, which for Chino means over the too fast time but as I had my new watch I felt confident that we’d nail it. 

I’d planned roughly where half way was and aimed to be there at 2mins 15. He started off a bit sticky and spooky but he kept up a good pace and we were dead on time when we reached half way so I continued at the same pace for the second half. I did feel like I was having to hold him up quite a bit but I figured that as we kept going too fast then we should be fine. That was until 4 jumps from home I realised I had 30 seconds left!!! shit shit shit!! So Chino got his wish and was let loose!!! Omg what an absolute beast he was! In and out the water with barely a splash, didn’t break stride down the drop, galloped to the penultimate fence taking a stride out and then it was a race to the finish with me doing an AP Mcoy and the commentator saying I must be short of time!! Husband said afterwards that he thought I was going to do another round the way I came through the finish!! Lolz!! 

We crossed the line and we had been 4-5 seconds over! God knows how many penalties we would have racked up if I’d have continued at my sedentary pace.

By the end of the day we were both sweaty and knacketed but I couldn’t have asked any more from my gorgeous boy- He gave his all on the hottest day ever!! Before leaving, Husband collected the dressage sheet which put me in a foul mood on seeing the score- 39! A 39 for what I felt was our best test yet. Yes I had got two penalties added so I suppose it was a 37 but we got the same score for our canter as we did at Aston where we hadn’t even managed to keep the canter for the full circle or on the correct leg and yet this time we transitioned brilliantly and maintained it so how that was the same mark I don’t know. I  feel there were some pretty picky marks such as the trot to halt on the centre line was what I would class as very good for a 90 level and yet the comment was – nice and square but wide at the back with a releativly low score!! Come on- trot to halt with all 4 legs square deserves a decent mark! I even smiled all the way which is a first although husband said he thought I was trying to hold in a fart! I did receive the best mark for my riding though which was nice to know I’m doing something right! It just goes to show though how dressage judges can differ so much and how they all look for different things but is really disheartening when you put in so much work to receive the same marks as a poor test as it leaves you wondering what more can you do! And because I was in a strop I then decided I didn’t want pizza from the yummy pizza stand!! Idiot!

I checked the results later and we had in fact come 14th so another top half finish which is good given the many mistakes I had made. A revision of the marks later on in the week meant I finally came 11th, 1 position from qualifying for the national Horse Trials!!! Arghhh! Next year will be our year although by then I’d hope to be doing 100 so perhaps not!! 

So what have I leant: 

  1. Dont forget your test! 
  2. Balance your horse before the corner in the showjumping not out of it when it’s too late. 
  3. Set my stop watch to the lower time limit as it’s easier to slow him down than speed him up. 
  4. Don’t get upset by dressage judges all marking differently despite it being infuriating! 
  5. Always say yes to pizza….Always!! 

Next weekend husband rides Chino in his second BE 90 at Offchurch and the dressage looks an easy one compared to the others so he’s hoping for a good score- as long as he doesn’t beat my lowest!! 

Toodle pip 😘 


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