Summer Series Wrap Up

Over the last two months, Castor and I have been competing in the Caboolture Dressage Group Summer series. A three round competition, run in the Queensland State Equestrian Centre indoor arena. This year with the added bonus of being 'free dress', so you know all of us dressage divas absolutely brought it!


I'd be lying if I said our round one test went the way I had it planned in my head. Despite producing some great work at home, me trying too hard and a poorly timed loud speaker crackle resulted in us carrying a fair bit of tension through the second half of the test.


I was pretty frustrated with myself but after a bit of reflection, it actually made me realise that I was reverting to old habits and tensing up badly as I rode down the centreline. And as the great Andrew Hoy says, 'What's in your brain goes down your reins', making it difficult for Castor to do what I was asking of him.


Following on from that I decided to focus more on breathing and my own relaxation and came back for round two with a score to settle... Just kidding! But I did have something to prove to myself.


For round two we were riding the novice 2B, a harder test, but I was confident in Castor's ability to do the work. From the moment I put my boot in the stirrup iron until the moment my boots hit the ground he was cool calm and collected. We got far closer to producing the type of work we are capable of in the arena. That in itself was enough for me, to get a score of 64% was icing on the cake.


This round was held in the first week of January and the Queensland heat and humidity had well and truly arrived. Despite riding in the undercover I was still a hot sweaty mess after a relatively short warmup. Electrolytes and carbohydrates in the form of Gatorade were an absolute life saver. Helping to keep me not only hydrated but to provide that little energy boost prior to going into the ring.


If I'm honest round three almost didn't happen. Our lead up to this round was less than ideal with the one year anniversary of my mare's death just a few days prior. Not feeling great from an emotional perspective I only rode a couple of times. But perhaps this was exactly what we needed. A casual, pressure free lead up to the last leg and the hardest test.


In a lesson with Anjanette Mclean earlier that week we stepped the expectations up for Castor a little. Now that he is no longer panicking at my aids or random external movements I am asking him to stay a little rounder through transitions and focus on keeping him straight.

I was once again thrilled that Castor not only took the warm up arena in his stride, but we were also able to translate the work from our lesson earlier that week into the competition ring. The icing on the cake was a score of 65.2%, a PB not only at novice level, but also our best score to date, and from a respected judge at that.


Leaving the ring I could feel tears welling up in my eyes, not because I was sad, but because I felt so incredibly proud of the partnership that we are forming - this is after all what horse sports, regardless of the discipline you ride are all about.




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