Winter Finals, here we come!


Sunday was quite simply, an experience. I headed off with two friends to our first Dressage Ireland competition of the season. They were keen to qualify for Cavan,  I just needed three more scores myself and one wanted to test drive her new lorry so we thought why not and headed off out West to County Clare to compete in the North Munster region.

Now we knew the forecast was ‘wet’ which in Ireland means anything from slight rain to complete deluge. We left a dry yard and arrived to a venue half under water! The organisers were really welcoming and had great spirits in spite of the torrential and constant rain. After man handling tack and riders onto the two horses in a comical amount of mud I went up to help friends warm up. At this point I realised a) my ski boots are no longer waterproof and b) only a total moron doesn’t pack spare socks – oh yes – that would be me. We have been getting some building work done at home which meant I have no lights in the room where I keep my clothes so had to pack in a rush in the morning and to be honest me packing in a rush means I just shove random stuff into a bag and hope for the best. This didnt include spare boots, spare socks or enough clothing. So everytime I put my heel to the ground I heard a delightful squealch as the water hugged my sock urgh urgh urgh. #firstworldproblems

I went and got Sammy tacked up and headed up to the outdoor warm up. He thought it was all great craic until he realised we weren’t going hunting and I actually expected him to do dressage. I headed down to the indoor arena to wait to go in and it was baltic. I hate wearing gloves and mine were hanging off my fingers like wet blocks of ice urgh jesus no wonder I have hands like a ninety year old I can handle gloves. We passed the time chatting to other members who were lovely and to be honest we probably all looked totally mental to anyone non horsey – a group of freezing cold women in make up and used to be white show gear shivering in their diamonte on grumpy looking horses. My test went ok given I could barely feel my hands, bum or face. I felt like an extra from Titanic.

The organisers had a lot of withdrawals (sane people) so they offered to let me just go and do my elementary test outside. I took one look at the warm up, hand walked the horse with an exercise rug on in a roofed corridor and then went straight in to do the test. The test went as well as could be expected and I was just really impressed by Sammys work ethic he went straight in and just did his job. Typically our ‘bad’ leg yield was better than the other because i’d worked on it and the normally good one didn’t fire. The organisers had at this point wisely decided to close the outdoor arena but offered any of us who needed qualification the chance to immediately do it (there were three of us left!) which was really decent of them. I went straight in and honestly it was hilarious! I could not really see the letters, water and sand splashed us every stride and I was soaked to the skin. I’d been worried sick about Sammy being cold but he decided that rather than go into the warm dry lorry and get his rug on he wanted to stay in the rain and eat grass. One track mind!!

We went to check our scores which proved much better than the weather! I needed two novice scores and one elementary score to qualify me for both levels at the National Winter finals and we achieved it 68%, 69% and 70%. In our last novice we got an eight for medium canter which I can only attribute to the water splashing his tummy but hey a gain is a gain. My two friends got three scores and four red rosettes between them so at least our very wet day yielded some good results.

I was afraid to pee before going home as my jods were so stuck to me I wasn’t sure I would get them back up! At this point some friends at home started sending us photos of ‘the snow’ ha ha I thought yes there was snow last year but no joke – it turned out there was snow at home making the roads absolute chaos. With a lorry full of horses and damp riding equipment we set off on what proved to be a 4.5 hour journey home. Given my friend had only driven the truck twice before it was a bit of a baptism of fire.

Everything we owned was in need of a wash or an oil afterwards! Monday was spent trying to make anything look clean or dry again. My breeches were filthy beyond belief but as they are my favourite I couldn’t throw them out so after getting advice online I soaked them in boiling water with milton, punch ultra whitener and vanish powder and then washed them at sixty degrees with a dishwasher tablet in the machine – I’m shocked to say they are clean again! One item of clothing I love are the Aztec Diamond 3D knit leggings. I really really feel the cold so i wear a base layer on my legs competing – I despise the feel of tights so used to stick to leggings or actual base layers until I got these leggings – they are so comfortable. Plus I found an added bonus on Sunday – despite being soaked through unlike most riders I didn’t have pink legs and my under wear was still invisible which is a win!

So that is us qualified for the National Finals in Novice and Elementary. I have a terrible track record at this competition so I will be working hard to try and actually get the best out of us this year!






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