Graduated and Raring to Go: Déjà vu

This week, Heather and Socks tackle an outdoor arena with some very scary flags for a dressage test. Find out how they got on here.  

It’s an unwritten law, I feel, that as soon as you clip your horse, temperatures plummet to zero. I’m writing this post hack, wrapped up in my dressing gown, eating toasted crumpets and drinking hot chocolate. Winter is absolutely here!

 Snug as a bear in a rug!

Snug as a bear in a rug!

And with the new season comes a new job for me – no more 4.45am starts, no more customer service voice, and no more booking competitions with my fingers tightly crossed that I wouldn’t then be on the rota to work that weekend!

It’s the standard nine to five life for me, now, and I can’t wait to have a proper routine. I’m sure Socks will appreciate it too, to be honest.

29/11/77 - British Dressage, The College Equestrian Centre, Keysoe: Have we been here before?

I mentioned last time that, after our previous not-too-successful BD venture, I was hoping to get back out again as soon as possible and show what we could do.

Our second attempt at Milton was thwarted by Storm Brian, so I decided to try again at Keysoe, in my week “between jobs”.

Same place as last time, same test as last time, same arena as last time.

What was different was that my Dad came along, as Mum had to work, which was nice! We now know where I get my incredulous crossness from when looking at my test sheet, but more on that later.

What was also different was that it was bitter cold and very windy, and the flags at the end of the arena that we normally don’t notice were today making a strange clinking noise.

You guessed it: it was terrifying.

Maybe we should stick to indoor competitions until the weather gets better?

I had decided that I wanted to fix the issues we had last time, and I was pleased that we did – all our canter strike offs were correct, and I didn’t override and ruin the medium trots.

However, Socks had a big distraction. So much so, that on our first centre line, we halted to salute after quite a nice bouncy, attentive trot, and… Socks didn’t stop.

The flags were on her right, and they obviously told her that they were going to come and eat her or something. Sideways we went, and in the end I just had to salute on the move and kick on.

Friends, that was our first ever two for any dressage movement ever.

(“What?! That’s harsh! It can’t have been that bad!” said my cyclist Dad, at his possibly second ever dressage competition. It made me feel better at least!)

I’m afraid that set the tone for the rest of our test. Finding out that my seat aids no longer had any effect meant that I’m ashamed to say that I had to use my hands.

After all the work I’ve done this year to sort them out!! Sadly, the judge agreed and said I was riding incorrectly. Consider me suitably chastised.

 Our free walk – one of the better parts of the test…

Our free walk – one of the better parts of the test…

I felt so sorry for my poor bear. She was so worried by the flags, and I rode like a moron trying to get her attention back.

We ended up with 57.5%, which could have been worse, but was wildly unsuccessful in going out and showing everyone what we can do.

So, we’re still trying on that count. It'll happen one day. Hopefully.

On the bright side…

But it hasn’t all been bad news. We went cross country schooling at Horseheath with Rachel and Josh, and jumped our first ever hedges (loved it!) and our first Trakehner as well!

Socks may only have seen it as a log on the ground, admittedly, but that’s a fence I’ve been scared of for years, so I got my brave badge.

Socks is starting to take out the extra stride she was chipping in so she could have a look, which makes the whole experience a lot smoother.

Petros recently wrote about the importance of making mistakes when you’re training (you can read it here) and I’ve been thinking about it a lot this month – not only from our disastrous dressage, but also in our jump schooling.

I’m definitely someone who gets a bit frustrated when things go wrong and I need reminding to take a breath, a step back and just think about why things are going wrong.

I did this with a jump exercise we were having trouble with and was very pleased when we tried it again at home and Socks was foot perfect.

In the end, the answer was (of course) super simple, but I just needed that time to go away and think.

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So that’s us for now, and in the run up to the second most wonderful time of the year, will I be able to find a dressage competition so we can finish 2017 on a high? Will this be the year that we finally get a santa hat on Socks?

See you next time!