Time to Dance
The trainer had decided it was time to focus on dressage. Dressage being the first element of the 3 disciplines in eventing and on a side note, my least favourite.
I have never studied dressage nor used a dressage saddle, nor practiced the movements and yet dressage is necessary to ensure your horse is moving right, effectively and with impulsion in all disciplines. Ideally the better you are at dressage, the better you are at riding.
With the intent on dressage, it means long painful and very frustrating lessons in the saddle with legs that ache for days. I use parts of my legs that I don’t think my legs even knew existed.
To ride a dressage test also means learning the test. At best I can barely remember what I did yesterday.
My problem is not understanding what is being asked of me: more leg, more bend, more impulsion, MORE CONTACT. I get this. My problem is execution.
My seat in the saddle is still weak, my pelvis is slightly twisted, my left side collapses, I have a frozen shoulder and knee issues. Can you imagine if I didn’t do yoga? I shudder to think.
Dressage requires absolute presence; you cannot let your mind wander. The same applies when doing a headstand in yoga; alignment, presence, and awareness are key. If you throw yourself up, you risk injuring the tiny vertebrae we like to call your neck. A headstand without proper alignment is potentially dangerous; the same goes with eventing. It is imperative you have a responsive, willing and listening horse and a good seat. With show jumping, I can get away with a certain amount of lack in my riding ability, mostly because the jumps are small. Point horse and jump. Dressage, however I cannot fake it.
I am ill prepared for what I’ve chosen to do in this Wobbleberry Challenge. I don’t own a proper riding jacket, nor a stock (still trying to figure that one out) my one show shirt is over 7 years old, my pair of beige jodhpurs do not stretch and fit poorly inside my boots (it’s taken me years to realise I’m a breeches only girl!) I’m seriously lacking in equestrian kit, however, if you need yoga leggings, let’s just say I stopped count at +20. Fortunately, my trainer lent me a beautiful vintage Caldene jacket and a stock. How do you tie these things?
After many sessions of working ‘dressage’, our test was booked. My trainer decided since we were making the drive, it made sense to do not one test, but TWO! How is my memory to cope?
I wasn’t too nervous, mostly because in dressage there are no elements to jump. This causes much ease inside my stomach. And why did I pick eventing?!
We warmed up and my trainer gets my ‘everything’ working, except my everything is still trying to figure out how to do all of this. It’s work. Every. Stride. Every Damn One.
The grey matter in the brain gets turned on and my face turns more and more red, not a look I like and probably why I stay away from hot yoga. (I’m only half kidding here).
Honestly, I’m becoming to think yoga is easier than dressage. There was no let-up, even on the way into the test. Work. Every. Stride.
Well, we didn’t disgrace ourselves. I remembered the test and the movements and I may not have saluted the judge properly but I think my big sloppy grin of relief hid that fact.
During a short break, which was basically to find the toilet before round 2. After another short agonising warm-up of ‘will I ever get this?’ we went in for our second test.
We made a small mistake, which was totally my fault and I spoke to the kind judge afterwards. She gave me a few tips like saluting the judge without the whip in hand, which I thought was a valuable piece of information for the future. She also reminded me to breathe (haha and I’m the yoga teacher?!) and after looking at the photos from the day, I saw I pretty much grimaced the whole way round.
Aside from that, we did pretty good, in fact, we did bloody brilliant! We came 1st in BOTH OF OUR CLASSES!
Obviously, my first outing was amazing. My hope was to do well, but I wasn’t expecting to come first! Twice! The whole process is completely addictive, however, I have realised I’ve set the bar quite high for myself.
The venue at Fenning Farm was lovely and the cake was gorgeous, which I’ve realised is quite important when attending shows!
I cannot thank my owner/trainer enough for all the work she does with us. She was a brilliant groom who definitely inspired me to want to groom for her one day; I still have quite a bit to learn but I love it. Her coaching was the key to total success. Those agonising hours in the saddle were worth it and he was a superstar. I’m beginning to think as long as I can keep the vomit down in cross-country, we will be able to complete our goal of an 80T.
Time to prepare for cross country training. Even as I write this my hands are starting to sweat.
Wish us luck, I’m going to need it!