This weekend I had the amazing opportunity to compete for the first time! I had never competed in any ridden competitions before so this was really exciting for me.
I decided to enter two tests, both of which were walk-trot – I had originally hoped to do a prelim test but changed my mind as it was my first competition and I didn’t want to overface myself.
Beforehand I practised the test in the field with Dusty’s owner acting as my judge, videoing me and giving me tips for improving the test. The video was really helpful to see where I was making mistakes.
We also planned the warm-up that I would use on the day of the show – Dusty takes quite a long time to work in so I got on him in good time and rode him for about half an hour before we were due to be in the ring. Particular things that I included in the warm-up were: shortening his trot strides as much as I could and then letting him lengthen again, (as this really improves the quality of his trot) and we did have a couple of short canters to liven him up – with the atmosphere and the other horses around however he was pretty awake anyway!
I had been worried about forgetting the tests and I did decide to have a caller for the second one as I couldn’t remember it. Because Dusty is weaker on his left rein I struggled to get him to bend on this side but we managed our circles without too much trouble – the judge commented that he fell in a couple of times (particularly on the left) and that I need to keep my hands still, but we did get some really positive feedback.
In the first test I got a score of 62.61%, which wasn’t that great but we still came third.
I was incredibly happy to discover that in the second test we scored 71.74% and came first! Having been a very nervous rider in the past I have worked hard to get to this point and I am thrilled that it is finally paying off.
My next goal in terms of dressage is to work on Dusty’s canter and attempt a prelim test with him.