Friday, 16 December 2011


Can you imagine - several weeks of preparation for about 3 minutes of walking and trotting around an arena?!

It was about a month ago that my friend persuaded me to enter a dressage test "because Santana would be fabulous".  So I let myself be persuaded and the preparations began.  Intro B test was purchased and I attempted to commit it to memory.  That was never going to work because I have a memory like a sieve.  I managed to remember about a third of it so Santana and I practised this bit - enter at A in working trot and proceed down the centre line, turn right at C ... etc. etc.  Trotting was fine, we're not bad at trotting.  When it came to transition to medium walk we dropped all the anchors and plummeted into plod.  So, downwards transition needs work.  We spent the next couple of weeks practising transitions and keeping some momentum going and we made some progress.

The date of the test was looming nearer and nearer.  My only chance to ride is at weekends now the dark nights have set in so I took to walking around the menage with test in hand, talking to myself.  My yard mates must have thought I'd gone loopy! I think I ran through the whole test about 4 times in total with Santana before the test day.

The day before The Test Jasmine and I arrived at the yard armed with buckets, sponges and shampoo.  It was a cold day but Jasmine insisted that Santana must have a "proper" bath if we were going to impress the judges

Poor boy!  Fortunately the sun was shining which brought a little warmth with it.  My goodness, he was gleaming by the time we'd finished - you needed sunglasses to stop the glare from his white socks.   I don't think he's ever been so clean!  We wrapped him up in cotton wool (almost literally!) and left him tucked up in his stable for the night.

We were back at the yard bright and early the next day and there he was - looking like a show horse with the light reflecting off his black coat.  He loaded on the lorry like he'd been doing it every day of his life and off we went.  We arrived at our destination half an hour later and were pleased to find it not very busy.  I discovered that we were one of only three entries in the Intro B test.  This means of course that I am guaranteed a rosette - result! We tacked up Santana and marvelled at how beautiful he looked.  I climbed on board and off we went to warm up. 

All this time Santana has been behaving like an absolute angel, as if this was all just in a days work for him.  How odd!  Surely something is bound to go wrong soon.

We entered the arena - bearing in mind this is the first time Santana has ever been inside an indoor arena he just walked in without hesitation.  He had a snorty huffing look at the jump wings stood around the walls but soon decided they weren't the enemy and even managed to say hello to the judge.  After one leapy spook for good measure we got on with the test.

For first timers I don't think we did at all bad, we got 59% and some really  nice comments from the judge, along with some things we need to work on.  Also, I'm still using my Pelham at the moment so we would have been marked down for that.  We came third (of course!) but I was well happy with my boy, I wouldn't have cared if I'd come thirty third.  My friend was right - Santana was fabulous!

Feel free to take a minute to look at my video...


  1. Hey Jooles, I don't know if this will help you or not!! My daughter was competing fairly seriously in dressage for 3 or 4 years and I got involved on the organisational side, running shows, scribing, scoring etc... Now that Daughter is "retired" I've taken to the dressage ring myself, and I have to say the dressage admin work I've done has made me completely relaxed about competing - no nerves whatsoever, I don't care if I make a complete ass out of myself or not, I'm just out there for fun, whereas in my "prime" I would have been sh***ing myself before a competition! So I would say volunteer as a scribe, or a scorer at your local shows, it gives you a lot of insight and perspective and would hopefully make you more relaxed in the show atmosphere. Best of luck & good on ya for getting out there and doing it.

  2. Hi! Loved reading your post and congratulations on a successful day in the end. Although my daughter has been riding for a few years and has competed at Prelim level in dressage on her previous (shared) pony, we now have our own horse Jay, who seems very green. My daughter, Katie, is planning lots of shows for next year and I'm quite nervous as to how he's going to respond in this environment. He's used to schooling in a field with only one other pony around, light hacking etc., etc. Your post has given me a bit of a boost - I'm hoping we'll be just as settled when it comes to Jay's first show in the next few months. Elaine

  3. Thank you all for your comments. It really makes me feel good.

    Martine - that's interesting, and how liberated you must feel now! I must admit that I didn't find this as stressful as jumping used to make me
    so that's an improvement.

    BeBe - thank you so much :D

    Elaine - Santana can be really spooky and very on his toes when other horses are about so I was amazed and thankful that he took this outing in his stride. Hopefully Jay will too. Perhaps take him to a show just to ride around the showground for the first couple of outings and let him soak up the atmosphere?