I have learnt a lot in the past few weeks, and in doing so I have realised how little I do actually know.
Let’s rewind a few weeks… I was plodding along, thinking everything was great – Fleur was behaving herself and it felt like she was all on track. Not so! I had a lesson with my incredible instructor who quickly identified many changes that needed to be made and set me on the right track. I mean, I could feel these things were not great but I thought we were progressing reasonably well in changing them (I have a gammy left arm and Fleur hangs onto it). The interesting thing about the lesson was that, during it, everything felt quite average. I felt like I had better rides on my own and that the lesson was just a lot of hard work with no real return.
The good thing about a great coach is that they give you tools that you can take away and use in your daily training, rather than a band-aid fix (the problem I find with many instructors). The next day I had a light ride and holy wow! Fleur felt incredible! Light and off my aids. This is dressage, I realised.
On the Sunday Fleur and I had our first competition in a fairly long time at Albury. The grounds at the show are lovely but quite intimidating, particularly for young, energetic horses. The arenas are at the far end and the centreline rides straight towards the event office and canteen with lots of activity happening. An excellent challenge!
Fleur had the preliminary class first and was foot perfect, she was more together thanks to our lesson and floated through the test with no mistakes and thank goodness no naughty kick-outs (it’s been a cute party trick of hers to do in the canter transition during tests). We were very happy to walk away with over 73% and a blue rosette.
Leading up to this I was beginning to regret entering a novice test (her first one!) as her canter was a bit long and awkward, I’m pleased I did however. She got a bit hot in the warm up as her travelling companion left just as she entered – the betrayal! Fortunately, she grows and becomes quite expressive when she is feeling like this. It worked in our favour as she was able to do the novice movements very nicely. We had a couple of energy bursts (flying changes) in the test but for the most part she kept her nervous tension under wraps and scored an impressive 72% and another blue rosette!
What a good horse! Whilst I am super happy with those tests there is still much that needs improving. I tend to play it safe and ride carefully in my tests, and on the defence. So for the next event I will be riding much more forward and positively. I also let her get a bit strung out so hopefully, keeping this in mind with the forward, I will have an impressive, more together horse in the arena.
Thanks for reading!