Today, Myself and Pea (plus my trusty groom/driver - Dad) ventured over to Vale View Equestrian Centre for the dressage. We haven't been there before and I was supposed to have gone last week, however due to an illness/injury (doctors think it was a virus that affected my muscles, was not fun not being able to move my arm at all due to it hurting) I didn't want to risk riding so pushed it back to this week. We entered Prelim 14 (getting rather bored of this test!) and Prelim 18. I wasn't expecting a lot as it was very hot and Pea gets rather lethargic and annoyed in the heat and also we are having issues with right rein canter. Before it was left rein, but now that's fine and he's decided he cannot canter on the right rein on the correct lead, not even on the lunge...oh the joys of horses! He warmed up nicely for both tests, he was still a bit funny in canter as he always is in the warm-up, but he was quite relaxed though spooky at times with it being a new venue. I didn't give him a long warm-up as it was so hot, plus he tends to go a bit better with a shorter warm-up as it means that he doesn't get bored. I also allow him to have a minute or two to walk round on a long rein just before we go in, again to relax him as well as myself so that we don't go in all tense and argumentative if something happens.
Our centre line was nice and straight, and for once I actually felt like it was straight as I normally think it's awful when it never is, however we slightly ruined the ending as we had to turn left and he lacked the left bend but it will come with more time. The first few movements were quite nice and he maintained a reasonable outline, though there were some comments of him possibly being more rounder, but he's come a long way and he's getting a lot softer! The first canter was to the right so I knew we would have issues and he struck off on the wrong lead which I tried correcting but it was still a bit iffy. On the 20m circle he broke and had a small argument and then went off on the wrong lead again causing him to get a bit tense but I am sure with more work he'll eventually soften. His left canter was better, though he went a bit 'heady' as I call it and got quite stiff round the circle. He then finished very nicely with a straight centre line and square, obedient halt (getting an 8 - yes!) which has been something we have struggled with lately so I'm very happy! Think maybe the heat helped a bit there! The judge wrote: "Paddy needs to improve his canter work but he tried hard and with more work marks could improve." I am very happy with these marks as he truly does try his heart out despite his 'Paddy' moments and I'm sure with time he will get a lot better, he just needs to learn to relax more for the canter as I think it's more psychological as he had a massage the other week and no problems were found, his saddle fits though I do need to get his teeth done. Overall he scored 59.58 and although essentially came last (7th) he still managed to qualify for Trailblazers second round again for next year. The video can be viewed here.
Our second test didn't go as well as I think the waiting and the heat got to him as he was a bit argumentative in the warm-up and as it was such a hot day quite a few people withdrew so we didn't have much of a warm-up. His centre line wasn't as good and he drifted to the left. For the majority of the test he wasn't as soft as he had been in his first test and occasionally swung his hind quarters in, which again is another problem we have had. His right canter was very argumentative and he stopped and had a bit of a nap, then carried on on the wrong leg. He was also a bit more reluctant about left canter and swapped leads on the circle so not very helpful. Luckily he finished with a nice square halt..eventually! The judge got out of her car at the end to say that I rode nicely and asked if he was often naughty, haha! Her comments were: "quite nice natural paces, needs more suppleness and roundness. Very naughty at times in canter. Quite nice position." He only scored 52.92% but that was to be expected, and as so many withdrew he came 5th (last). The video can be viewed here.
Overall, although it didn't all go according to plan, he is getting better with his frame in trot, and he just needs to learn to relax in canter which I am sure will eventually come (though when I'm not too sure!) and he also needs to bend more to the left as he often gets a bit stiff and therefore falls in and bends to the right. I am very proud of this boy though and feel incredibly lucky to have him as he has taught me more than I could imagine and he tries his heart out most of the time and will always have his 'Paddy' moments. This coming Wednesday (10.7.13) I will have had this special boy 5 years which has literally flown by!
Thanks for reading,
Laura & Pea x