Why the national championships?
Goals are personal and what matters to each rider really does depend on their own experiences. For me, competing successfully at the National Dressage Championships has meaning because when I first started proper dressage training a few years ago it seemed ridiculously unlikely that I would ever be good enough to be able to do it.
- Get used to being on a circle. You won’t be moving sideways at the greatest of ease any time soon. The circle is your friend, embrace the circle. Don’t go large around the arena – this does not go down well. If you have enough grasp of spatial relations to be able to ride a circle that is circle shaped (unlike me) this is a bonus.
Hail to the bystanders
Always waiting to say
You shouldn’t be riding
Your horse in that way
Always ready with advice
When you fall to the ground
Although their only riding experience
Is reading horse and hound
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!
My Christmas present to myself this year was a trip to the Ultimate Dressage Experience. This equestrian pursuit is the brainchild of dressage rider Sandra Blake Farrell and is based at Dollanstown in Kilcock Co. Kildare. The Ultimate Dressage Experience invites riders to have a lesson on a school master dressage horse and enjoy the feel of more advanced dressage movements. I booked the experience with my friend Dani and was delighted to learn that I would be riding St. Emilion II, Sandra’s grand prix Hanoverian gelding while Dani would be on board Polish warmblood Biala Perla. Having seen St. Emilion II in action in competition with Sandra I was a little worried that I may not be able to ride him effectively. I was also worried that my petite little legs might not be long enough for the dressage saddle!
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.