You know when you practise and prepare and put all your energy into getting everything ‘just so’ for a certain event, and then on the day it’s just a bit of an anti-climax?…..that was our Petplan Area Festival Debut!
Dustry has been going so well at home, and with every lesson he makes huge strides forwards (no pun intended!) and so I was hopeful for respectable scores in both our tests. In prep for this he had had the saddler, physio, increased feed, electrolytes, salt lick, new shoes, and was plaited and pampered until he resembled a respectable looking ‘dressage horse’.
We arrived and he was very chilled, taking in all the surroundings, and so I tacked up and went to the warm up. Things in the warm up were slightly less chilled! I know now that if I can ‘ride out’ the first 10-15mins of excitable behaviour he settles well and starts to concentrate. He was actually very well behaved considering this is only his 4th competitive outing and it was the smallest and most crowded warm up he has ever been in. To add to that there were flags, banners, marquees, tannoy announcements, snack vans and a lot of spectators milling around which he didn’t bat an eyelid at. What he seemed to find most exciting were the squealing and honking horses in the field adjacent to the warm up who were clearly having a bit of a battle the other side of a hedge!
We went in to do our first test in the indoor and again the plant pots filled with flowers didn’t even register on his radar – good boy 🙂 He did an ok test, we got the wrong canter strike off on the left leg which I am kicking myself for, and his final halt was a bit more of a ‘heap’ than a halt! I was disappointed with the test and my riding but I have to keep reminding myself he’s only young and at the start of his learning curve. We gained a fair 58%.
His second test was very soon after the first and so left little time to let him rest and recoup. He warmed up much better for this test, and showed glimpses of the kind of quality work we get in our lessons/at home. I went in and again he didn’t flinch at the ‘dressed up’ arena and multiple judges boxes. This was a more accurate test with no mistakes, but he was very sluggish and behind the leg for him so we only managed 62%.
The main outcome of the day was the realisation that he obviously needs EVEN MORE feed in order to help him sustain his energy levels for longer. Despite what was a slightly disappointing performance between the boards, his attitude in every other respect cannot be faulted, so I award him an 85% for behaviour 😉
It turns out he came 14th/24 in the Area test….so not that shabby after all, but definitely lots better performances to come….