A game of 2 halves...
After a quiet December competition wise, we have been getting to grips with flatwork and trying to remain consistent in the bad weather. 2 lessons a week has been helping us to keep on the straight and narrow. Willo and Ruby have both been going very well. The only time we had a bit of a rubbish session was immediately followed up by a huge improvement, so it just goes to show that when you think it’s not making a difference, it is still going in!
We then seemed to make a real breakthrough, and my once hollow Willo was suddenly soft, supple, and working in a beautiful shape, the only thing we had to keep an eye on was too much right bend. Once was maybe a fluke, but this happened in 3-4 consecutive sessions, so both Sharon & I were thrilled with the progress – which has been as much about me learning to ride better from the leg as it has been about Willo accepting the contact. Both Willo & Ruby were due for a physio visit, so we asked the lovely Pip Stacey to come and give them a treatment. I think this was too close to the competition really, as this Saturday we went to Sparsholt to do some dressage and he didn’t seem very comfortable, and had gone back to his head tossing and hollowness a little bit.
This was rather disappointing as he’d been so much better, but hopefully just down to being a bit tight and sore in places after treatment. The 1st test was one to be forgotten – a terrible 51% which owed plenty to being hollow, and the fact that my non spooky horse was inexplicably leaping over the boards and spooking at the letters! Very out of character and to be honest I was quite pleased nobody was there to video that one! The second one was much better, and we came out with 58%. In the grand scheme of things, many would sneer at such a score, but having only started dressage 6 months ago, and had nearly 3 tests where we were stuck on the same old 55%, this was a bit of a Eureka moment to be honest with you! Proof that things are heading in the right direction. There is still much to improve upon, and I’m hoping that after a few sessions we can pick up where we left off with our home schooling so that we can start to translate this to the dressage arena in a competition environment before long. He was still over the bit and hollow but this shows to me that we are making small improvements in other areas, which gives me great hope that once we manage to get this outline and way of going re-established, we might actually achieve this reasonable score we are in search of. 1 step at a time though – next target would be early 60’s. We are hoping to go and do some test riding at other venues to help hone our warm ups, and ride some tests without the pressure of the competition aspect.
With Sharon’s help and support, and consistent reminders of ‘leg!’ and yep you guessed it ‘more leg!’ we are slowly getting there. I know at least 1 improvement is not riding my transitions ‘like Frankie Detorri riding a finish’ and we’re beginning to move away from ‘a showjumper trying to do dressage.’ So I would say that Sparsholt was definitely a game of 2 halves...and whilst initially horrified at the idea of having to ride 2 x Prelim tests, I’m now very glad I did, or we would not have seen the improvement that we knew was in there somewhere. Oh, and for the record – Sharon was right once again about the scores we would be looking at! Permission to feel smug granted Mrs K!