In 2013 and 2014, Dolly the big chestnut mare and I focused on and achieved many goals in the show ring. We had not achieved what I hoped we could in dressage and given my passion for dressage this always frustrated me. I had performed well on ponies before but Dolly and I always fell somewhere short of the mark in competition. In a class of seven we were usually fifth or sixth in our advanced intermediate grade and with this consistent mediocrity I was afraid I was becoming one of those people who bang on about ‘potential’ for years without ever delivering any actual!
“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity” is one of my favourite phrases. So often in competition, especially when things go wrong, we talk about what you can buy – the best horse with the most potential, the expensive clothing, the sessions with the best coach / instructor / sports psychologist. However it is the existence of luck that levels any playing field. You cannot buy it, sell it, create it, harness it or control it. Luck can be at your back propelling you to victory or pushing against you to defeat. Luck will defy all odds and laugh in the face of assumption. Luck is the unlucky pole down that your horse barely touched, it is the lost button, the bad weather or the little spook or buck that the showing judge was looking away for.
It is almost time for the annual riding clubs festival. Times have been issued, weather apps are being consulted, child of prague statues are being plonked out on doorsteps, plans are being made and lists are being written.
You can check out what I learned at last year’s festival here. In the meantime, considering I have been going to the festival for a long as I have been in riding club I figured it made sense to compile a list of survival tips for newbies and first timers…..
- Past years would suggest that the weather will always be either scorching hot or lashing rain. This means you should be optimistic and pack shorts, suncream and sunglasses, lots of water and fly repellent. This also means you should be realistic and pack water proof trousers, a change of clothing, a waterproof sheet for your horse, wellies and anything waterproof you own.
Always pack suncream, shorts, an umbrella and water proofs because if it the weather is not lashing rain and baltic it will be tropical!
Wearing a top hat one size too small for your head in 30 degree heat may not be the best idea… and no the hat will not stretch to fit your head in the heat either!
Trying to tie your own stock always carries the risk of either jabbing the stock pin in your neck or accidentally swallowing it while holding it between your teeth when trying to tie it using the jeep side mirror as a guide.