- 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.
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!
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!