So I find myself writing to you about mine and monty's last dressage outing, which, to be fair, could have gone a lot better....
On the 12th November 2011, we had entered the unaffiliated dressage again at Cholderton EC, on the back of a great start to a competition career last time out there. Our training at home has been going very well and as we are looking to start out at novice level next year, after much training and patience from my trainer, we decided to step up a level and attempt the Novice 27. After all, its only a local event and getting the ring practice in is always worthwhile with a green horse. We have worked really hard on the lengthened steps and transitions and at home, we were managing some astonishing lengthening, almost verging on proper medium steps, with cadence, work coming through and correct. So, after a last training session at home and amazing my trainer with his medium work, we were ready! Or so I thought.
I had also entered the prelim 4 with him as a safety back up, it would at least warm him up prior to the novice, and how grateful was I that I had chosen to do that! We were late arriving at the event and had the journey from hell as his field mate willo had also come along and for the whole journey, monty had been taking chunks out of willo and had caused mayhem! So from the moment we arrived, Monty was on his toes and looking for mischief!
As the journey had taken a while, we were late and I had 15 minutes to work him in, well, those 15 minutes flashed by like I had been time warped, when the steward said "your in next", i wanted to cry! Monty had been like a coiled spring and we were far from ready, but hey ho, it was our time so off we went, from the moment we entered at A, it was like sitting on a firework with someone hovering over the blue touch paper with a lit match, and with every step they got closer! Luckily I had my very good friend Montina calling my test, it is unusual for me to have a caller but I was eternally grateful for her as I had so much going on underneath me that the actual test movements were a blur and without her, I would have totally lost my way, we were doing the movements, but when I heard "canter" I thought oh no this could go very wrong, I put my leg on and away he went, I have to admit, it wasnt as bad as id visualised, but we did kick the white boards around a little on the "turns"! The trot work was tense but controllable, the canter hadn't ended too badly but then there was the walk, well, lets just say that the comment from the judge says "Passage NOT required", not exactly a good free walk then i feel but al least it shows promise for grand prix! So just as i thought things were almost under some kind of control we only had to go down the centre line and halt, easy you may think, well, Monty clearly thought he should add his party trick in at the halt and salute, he reared! Yes really! Normally I would have given in at that point, but he had been so naughty all the way through the test i thought NO you will stand still for me to salute properly, so we argued for a while, then he finally stood still long enough for me to salute. I have never apologised for my horses behaviour before but on this occasion I thought it was appropriate for me to do so, the judge gave me a nod of the head as if to say well done! Our score for that test was a remarkable 59.54% which I thought was rather good considering! With a score sheet sporting marks from 3 for fairly bad, to 8 which is good, well, not sure what to say to that!
So that was the prelim test done and sorted, now a 2 hr wait for the novice, plenty of time to work him and get it out of his system you would think, well, erm, no, i have been suffering from a bad back for many years and recently it had been worse than ever, however this new naughtiness was really taking its toll and back at the box, all my friends rallied round to sort monty out while i took many tablets for the pain, and after 20 minutes we were back in the warm up arena, I had hoped that the time stood around would have helped settle him a bit and we could start a fresh, but no monty had other ideas, from the moment I remounted he was just the same, so I threw every tool I have ever known, and some new ones, at him in an attempt to encourage him to listen and work, some of it was good, and seemed to work for about 5 minutes, then he would go off on one again, so for the next hour and a bit we just worked and worked and worked, then those words came again "your in next" oh dear, here we go again! Well, with Montina calling for me again, we set off, enter at A and ....all went rather well I felt, this time he had done some good transitions, and we actually walked the whole free walk with no passaging! At the final salute I could have cried, but this time with happiness, he had kept it together for the entire test, albeit tense, but no rearing, etc. Yes, we had completed our first novice test and suceeded! The judge commented on his tension, which was obvious but to be fair, his score of 59.64% was admirable, and with that tension too, so from a disaster to a promising start at novice, not bad at all.
Oh, and we brought home another ribbon for a 3rd place in the novice, so very pleased at the end of the day.