Following the last post about the dressage tests, I came away feeling that I hadn’t fully expressed how pleased I was with how the day went. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I was so pleased about, so it’s taken me a week of musing to sort my thoughts out.
One of the very pleasing things was that I didn’t have the familiar pattern of stress, fear, anticlimax. I’d eliminated the stress and fear by quitting jumping and so giving myself permission to enjoy dressage. During the second test I had a strong wish that it was over already, but that was solely due to the heat, not any other pressure. Also, I know now how long I need to plait and groom and get myself ready, so I’ve reduced last-minute delays that eat my warmup time, making it a more positive experience.
It was good that although everything didn’t go smoothly we still got respectable scores and I was pleased with our performance (apart from the bit where I took us in the wrong direction!)
In the Prelim test, we were placed ahead of a rider whose abilities I rate highly. I’m aware she could have ridden a better test than she did, but on the day we outscored her fair and square. This suggests we are doing something right 🙂
I am in love with my photos from the day. I look like a rider and he looks like a horse. We make a rather harmonious picture compared to any of our earlier outings. I no longer feel overdressed and it’s starting to feel “normal” to spruce ourselves up and play this game. I’m happy with the weight he’s gained (and with the weight I’ve lost) since I got him and I particularly love his neck, which used to be so skinny and now looks more like it fits the rest of him.
To add up all the little thoughts and feelings together, I think the following points are true.
- I feel like instead of just steering through the patterns, we are actually starting to do dressage, albeit in a fairly minor way.
- I’ve realised I’ve finally got what I wanted when I started on this buying a horse game. I have a horse on which I surpass what I could do on school horses. We have a good relationship and I am a strong enough rider now to get good work out of him even when he doesn’t feel like it.
- I am starting to see that we could appear to be a respectable horse/rider pairing rather than a hairy awkward pair who can’t do much. And that’s not going to be changed by our not jumping.
Maybe I can boil it down even more to:
I don’t feel like an imposter any more
And that’s pretty good 🙂
In another fortnight I’ll have another Lee Pearson lesson. Again I’m hopeful that he’ll see an improvement from our last lesson. I feel I’ve worked quite well at getting D into the contact from behind, although obviously we have a great deal of work to do, and it is not yet something we can sustain for long at one time.
After that the next date on my dressage calendar is the next competition on the last Sunday of June. I think we’ll definitely need a caller then because I might be learning some new tests as well! The tests we have done so far are made up on the yard, but from next month they’ll also be offering some official British Dressage (BD) tests! There will be a BD test for each of the levels Intro., Prelim. and Novice. On the down side you need to buy those tests – locally made up ones are free! But I have ordered the tests and hope to have a go at Intro. and Prelim., assuming they look reasonable. I think they’ve been introduced in part to encourage outside competitors, but I certainly hope that they will be offered every time from now on regardless of whether they attract outside interest. I think it would be a really long time before we’d even think about trying a Novice test, but I really like thinking that it would be there to try one day when we’re ready. Also, I have to admit that I’m no longer entirely ruling out one day going off the premises to do a dressage test. One day I might let someone persuade me. I don’t fancy it any time in the near future – we still have enough to challenge us at home – but maybe one day we just might try it.