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!
- It takes hours of practice
Just like getting skilled at Columns (I once got to level 150, it took about five hours and I could no longer see straight), dressage takes hours and hours doing the same exercises and movements, developing the right muscles and hoping for the penny to drop in the horse and riders head and for the co-ordination to kick in so that you get the right result.
Because sadly we all cannot be Charlotte….
Dressage test movement: “Enter at A, proceed down centre line in working trot”
Dressage test reality: Attempt to get straight before entering arena. Deep breath, enter at A. Realise you are a little to left. Left leg, left leg, damn too much left leg, right leg. Okay that’s as straight as we are going to get. Sit up straight, smile at judge. Tits and teeth baby! Hey judge check me out, I am having the most awesome time on the best horse.
A few weeks ago the big lady and I headed off on another adventure, this time to a dressage clinic with Heike Holstein. The horse (the half hanoverian) twigged that she was going somewhere as soon as the travel boots appeared and decided to dig a hole in her bed in excitement, as you do. We set off for Redhills Stud in Kildare. Redhills is one of my favourite places as it really is a yard that is a home from home – there is always someone to greet you and open a gate, someone to give you a hand and you are never let leave without a cup of tea, a pastry and a chat. The horse loves it too as there is always someone telling her she is pretty or giving her something!