Sunday, May 3, 2015

TP Autumn/Winter Dressage Series; Day 1 of 5.

Before I dive into my recap of this weekend's dressage show; I had another lesson with C last week in preparation. We worked through the previous weekend's tests and addressed transitions - I feel a tonne better about them already. More about my lesson later though, for now I want to focus on this weekend!

In my previous post I had set myself a goal to practise different ways of warming up at a competition, with hopes that Oscar would be less tense in his tests. So this weekend I had planned to both play with the warm up, and beat last weekend's 'high score' of 63.08%

We repeated test 1A from last weekend, and did test 1B this weekend which is new to us.

I was a little more assertive in my warmup for test one instead of doing my usual conservative riding. I didn't really give Oscar much opportunity to look around. He was much better as a result, and despite spooking a few times, as noted in the judge's comment below...

.. he settled much quicker than usual. The transition work with C earlier in the week paid off for us, and we got good comments on all of our transitions. We did what we came out to do and beat last weekend's high score of 63.08%, marginally, and got a 63.65%. Not even a full point, but I'll take it.
The class was much bigger this time around, and we managed a 5th.

The spookiness is exhausting. I don't really know how to stop a horse spooking - I can't anticipate what he's scared of in the first place! The first spook in this test was at a flower pot about a third of the way through our test. We'd passed said flowerpot twice already, and the other eleven (there was one at each letter marker) with no drama and then out of nowhere he took an aversion to it. Bloody horse.

Second test was our lowest score from both weekends. 
It was held in the indoor arena, and there was no option to warm up in there. Horses had to be ridden individually over from the outdoor arenas to do their test alone. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this - I'd even argue this was the norm in countries like England - it is very unusual in New Zealand, and something Oscar has never been asked to do before.

Upon learning where the second test was held, I anticipated all the spooks and began riding like a tense clown myself.

Bloody rider.
Test two, needless to say, was abysmal. I got so distracted with the crappiness of our performance that I lost track of where we were in the test and earned a 2 point penalty for a course error. Ugh, first time ever. I rode over to the judge when she rang the error bell, and thought we'd been eliminated. Note to self: course errors do not equal elimination!

By some miracle, we got 55.77% which is still over the halfway mark. I had expected much worse, and the face below doesn't do justice to how much of a scaredy cat Oscar was being.

I think the saving grace was the second half of the test. I just thought 'screw this test, I don't even care anymore. We'll just become jumpers!', and the subsequent shift in my riding seemed to help Oscar relax marginally.

There were heaps of other horses that were twice as scared as Oscar - as I said, indoor arenas are pretty rare in New Zealand, and especially for a level 1 test - so I couldn't be too disappointed with our test. Next time will be better, right?!

Hopefully we can do some Wairarapa dressage too on top of the Dannevirke series and Tielcey Park. I really want to be happy with our level 1 performances before the eventing season kicks up again. Horse trials are expensive, and even more so when you're a student, so it will be nice to know that we can enter a competition without spooking our way through the dressage tests!

* I am fortunate enough to have a really kind and talented photographer friend whose photos I have used (with permission) in this post. If you're into equine event photography at all, give Taylah Brown Photography on Facebook a like!


  1. You're a trooper for making it through! The very idea of that second test is melting my poor little brain.

    1. Thanks haha, lucky it was just a winter series practise. Mid season I would have probably been hating it!

  2. love the pictures!!! congrats on succeeding in beating your last score - and even more kudos for holding it together through the indoor test. it's funny - i had a recent jumping round where after totally botching the first two fences i sorta figured we were out of the running and just relaxed and had fun. and it actually really made for a better ride!

    1. So funny how that happens, huh?! Wish I could channel that carefree-ness beforehand! I guess if we didn't care to begin with though we'd never get to shows.