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Number 6 – Keysoe: The one with the experimental dressage.

I’m rolling back to Tuesday…. my first fall in over four years. That’s right, I stacked it! I was jumping in the field (alone… like an idiot), he dropped the anchors right before a fence and unusually, I sailed over his head and onto the jump!

I banged my mink box very hard on the pole and having had my smear earlier that day, I felt totally violated! Alas, ignoring my sore minky, I got back on and jumped some more jumps.

The relief of getting a fall out of the way was actually amazing! I’d been dreading it for so long, the fear was definitely worse than the reality and now I’m actually a lot less scared. RESULT!

However…

My minky went a fabulous shade of black and turquoise and my poor hand that failed to let go of the reins, was also very sore. I tried to ride Wednesday and ran through my tests but (also with a trip to Badminton) didn’t ride for the rest of the week… not ideal!

I came back from 3 days at Badminton pretty exhausted so just packed up the van Saturday night and gave Pat a short lunge over some jumps in the field.

Not being on until 1pm meant that our 100mile journey to Keysoe wasn’t going to be too antisocial on the time front. We left at 8.30am and arrived in enough time to plait and walk the cross country!

THE EXPERIMENT

Method:
Today I decided to change a few things.

– I rode in the dressage saddle 
– I used a plain number bib
– I used a navy jacket
– I didn’t smile AT ALL in view of the judge

Now you might think I’m nuts, but the usual picture of us entering the dressage arena is one of an escaped inmate from a rather colourful mental asylum! I usually grin far too much, sometimes I laugh during my test too ?I also wear a bright blue jacket and pink bib. All things pointing to: she ain’t taking this seriously!

Conclusion: 
Today I rode my usual accurate test with Pat feeling his usual, slightly backward, self… but there was nothing usual about the mark!

The average score in my section was around 35, Pat and I scored 26.5!!!!! The leaders by a very good margin.

Evaluation: 
I’m not saying dressage judges want to see miserable, conformist riders but they do want to see discipline and I think my huge grin and bright attire was taking away from actually how incredible my horse is… food for thought!

Anyway, the showjumping at Keysoe was in a huge, brightly dressed arena which I don’t think Pat will have seen before on this scale! It was beautiful!

He warmed up so well and in the ring I totally f*cked it! I went in, showed him a couple and then flew at the first fence. I tried to hunt him round as though I was on grass but it all went wrong. He went very green, dropped off my leg and then when I kicked some more, went totally flat and ended up have three rails down.

I came out absolutely livid.

I was so angry at myself for forgetting my training, for not taking him out jumping much before this and for riding like bambi on ice… it was a scrabbly horrible mess and I deserved everything I got!

Why didn’t I get the canter, why didn’t I just focus on the rhythm and let the jumps just come to me…? Gah! Thrown away the biggest lead I’ve ever had on crap riding and poor preparation!

Anyway, I got changed and went down to the XC. I was being a spoilt little witch until Carrot said “2017 Wimpy wouldn’t act like this” and he was so right, I would have been thrilled two years ago to have left up enough show jumps to be allowed XC!!!! Finally, when I went into the start box after an excellent warm up, there was a smile back on my face!

5,4,3,2,1….

We cantered out the box and over the first fence in an excellent rhythm, desperate to emulate the flow of my round with Pea last week! I thought I felt promising until he bounced to an almost stop in front of the house at 2… I kicked like stink though and he went!

The log pile at three jumped nicely as I got my knitting in order! He spooked like a goodun’ at the double of offset houses at 4 but responded to my howling and kicking and sailed down the back straight to a big blue box at 5.

Another sticky one there, he just hesitates, I don’t even think he’s planning a stop anymore… he just questions my conviction ? and less than 110% from me is when it ends in a refusal. Lucky for us I was giving 150% ?

Round a corner to a log pile at 6 and he very nearly had a stop AGAIN…. FFS Come on Susan, taking up cross stitch is not an option… pull your finger out and change something or go home to your needle and thread!

I gave it some into the table at 7 and he responded with a flier, turning to the curved brushed and sailing that too!!! YEEEEEESSSSSSS!!!

Galloping towards the coffin and log at 8, he got it bang on!! Yes boy!!! Into the woods and over a V dressed fence was nothing for us now Mother has woken up!

I saw the long one at the hedge at 10 and flew it on a really forward stride! Cornering again to the water… it opened out and he jumped really greenly over a box at 11 but really hesitated again at the tiny log after it ? nobber!

Cantering through the water, I really pushed up the step at 13 and rode a bold confident line to the skinny after it, he felt great over that! And lucky really, because we round the corner to fly over the last fence absolutely delighted with another round under our belts!

Inside the optimum time too which makes me very happy ? alright, it isn’t perfect and it looks a bit of a mess but we had no refusals, and I felt confident to push him on… massive positives!

This meant ending the day on a 38, and as I mentioned before lots were starting their day around this score so we managed to get in the TOP TEN (8th) AGAIN!!!

Third event in a row with a placing, I can’t tell you that it’s easy and sometimes I really do question if I can carry on with him, but he’s just the most rewarding horse when it comes right. They are a privilege, not a right. They are our teammates, not our servants and with respect and love, they will return it and you will have a bond like no other.

Thank you so much to everyone that came to say hello today and all of you that wished us well. It really is so so kind and I’m really grateful.

Huge thanks to Voltaire DesignKBIS and Topline Vet Physio who are all featuring this coming week in our activities, what this space!

So the moral of the story is:

Dress down, remember where you’ve come from and try not to bruise your minky, it really does hurt more than you think! ?

Love as always 
Vic and Pat xxxx

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