Well after months and months of lessons and home work I finally decided it was time to face the music and take Dustry to his first competition to see how he reacted! Very local to me is a lovely venue called Cholderton Equestrian Centre and they run unaff’ and affiliated dressage and showjumping. I entered D for a walk and trot test twice (once HC)
I thought maybe plaiting him up might excite him and remind him of his racing days but he didn’t bat an eyelid, he just munched on his hay net. Used to travelling regularly for his lessons we boxed up and set off. When we arrived because we were in the first class with very few entries the warm up was empty. This was perfect as it gave me time to settle him and get him concentrating before the other people in my class came into the warm up. He was very well behaved, and there was lots going on to look at lorries arriving, horses cantering about in the fields, dogs on the yard etc
We went in to do our test in the indoor and again he was very good not looking at the seating, judges box etc He was very tense though, and when he gets nervous you can tell as he starts to scrunch his bit. He is a little star despite being nervous as he kept control of himself and behaved for the test. The test wasn’t anything special, and in fact it was rather backwards, but my main aim of the day was to just give him a calm and consistent experience to go away with. Next time out with one outing under his belt I will be able to ride him more and really ask him for the kind of quality work we get in our lessons.
I have ridden a few horses for their competition débuts and it seems that ‘drying up’ is quite common. One little NF mare I took to her first comp’ dried up so much we were at a standstill for the first 5 minutes of the test!
I then went back into the warm up which now had a few more horses working in there and had a little canter, which was very nice even if it was accompanied by dramatic grunting (from him not me!) then almost immediately we went back in to do the same test again HC. I tried to ride him more in the 2nd test and this showed as marks ranged from 4 – 8. 4’s because being tense he reacted a little too much and broke paces when I was asking for a bit more (need to work on my finesse!) and an 8 for his final halt
He then loaded back up and stood on the lorry like a pro whilst we waited for the test sheets.
In his first test the marks were very consistent (mainly 6’s) and he gained 59.13% and 2nd place, in his second test even though parts of the work were much better the few errors brought his overall mark down to 56.95%
All in all a very successful début as I was hoping for marks around 60% for his first attempt. Back to work now perfecting our flatwork and then if we can get our right lead canter transition cracked soon I think his next test will be a prelim.