Recently, it has felt like so much of my life revolved around getting a horse, or making a horse, that I could compete.
Between Des and his love of injuries, and Snitzel’s heart breaking soundness issues it appeared that my last competition was at the Riverina Dressage Championships in 2014.
Me trying to calculate how long it has been.
So, after Evie had succesfully survived her 6 hour float trip to New South Wales and settled in, it finally hit me.
I had a horse that was ready to compete.
Wait, what? I should be excited! And I was. But I was also terrified. It had been so long and I had been so focused on being ABLE to compete the idea of actually DOING it was not something I had really spent much time focusing on. Where would I go? What would I do? Can I still handle this? (Have you noticed I am an obsessive over thinker?)
Much to my delight (and terror), the REA Dressage Club was holding a two day event, with a training day on the Saturday and a competition on Sunday. Perfect. It’s close, the grounds are familiar (and also A+ so if you’ve never competed at the CSU Equine Centre I highly recommend it) and the organising committee are wonderful.
Despite Evie’s very impressive CV of achievements I decided to ease back into it and opt for a Preliminary 1.2 test for both the training day and competition on Sunday. Exciting! I think.
And then you realise how much STUFF you need to check you have (bridle numbers), refill (plaiting thread) and is clean (who’s idea was it to make competition colours white?). Plus I had to make sure my Saturday training outfit was co-ordinated.
Yep, you caught me – I am one of *them*.
It totally was, by the way.
Our Saturday training test was not until almost 4.00pm which meant I had a lot less stress given early mornings are not my forte. It also allowed me to get her properly cleaned up for the Sunday as the shower facilities at my current agistment are not ideal.
Unfortunately, the test didn’t go quite to plan and our canter was a bit… ahem… wild.
But at the end of the day, we got some good comments and things to work on, and I thought perhaps given it had been more than 2 years since my last competitive attempt at sand dancing it would be worthwhile stepping down into a Prepatory class to get my confidence back up and allow our partnership and trust to develop a little better.
Whilst Evie may have competed to 1* she did it with someone who is an amazing confident rider and very experienced. Not to mention she is only 8 and the role of schoolmaster is new to her when she’s still pretty young.
I think she has been doing a pretty amazing job lugging me around thus far honestly.
I am a pretty lucky girl
Sunday came and the organising committee had very graciously allowed me to step down AND I had managed to drag myself out of bed early to get a (fairly decent) plait job done.
Warm up time came and I was in my comp gear for the first time in FOREVER!
I forgot how poorly white breeches make you look! Yay!
After the “extravagant” canter I had experienced on Saturday I was hesitating as to whether I would even bother asking for it in the warm-up given our test was Walk-Trot only. Despite this, she felt good and I decided to give it a Hail Mary and test the waters. And hey – it was good!
Why is it always when no body is scoring you they do this?
Despite this, I was still happy with the decision to step down. It is one thing to pull this out in the warm up, but it is always harder to achieve this in test atmosphere. Progress may be slow but it is still progress.
As my coach says – little bites of the apple.
I warmed up slightly *too* early as I was anticipating some of the previous days theatrics which left us with a lot of time to meander around, but I didn’t mind. It was nice to catch up with so many of the people that I don’t get to see outside of competitions and warm up everywhere so she had no reason to be unsettled when we went from one of the warm ups to the test rings.
No fake tails for us.
Test time finally came and I couldn’t have asked for more. She really pulled it out for me when I needed her to and our only failing was my pilot error.
Evie is blessed with a lovely free walk and unfortunately I didn’t hold her well enough with my seat when collecting her back up for the Medium Walk at the end of our diagonal which led to a small jog (damn). Despite this I left the ring with a very big smile on my face.
The scores were honestly of secondary importance and the last thing from my mind. As I walked Evie to the wash bay post ride I ran into my friend who had pencilled the test and didn’t realise I was riding or competing again. We caught up and she mentioned how lovely her walk was when I again lamented the jog (double damn), but she said not to worry as the overall test was nice (yay).
I headed to the canteen to catch up with some other friends and saw the results posting which I was scanning through with my friend Sarah who had competed in both Prepatory classes (I only did one). Originally I had thought these were the results from the other class and congratulated her on her scores and began to walk away. I was very surprised when she spun me back around and pointed at the score sheet.
Second! We had placed second!
I almost cried. But for once, I had some composure (until I sprinted away to tell my long suffering but ever supportive coach).
And just like that, I was back in the world I love so much, and have missed so desperately…
Crap. What next?