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For those of you who haven’t heard, we have our first dressage show of the year on Sunday and I am really starting to get excited. I have almost learnt my tests, as in I basically know when to turn and change gait, but need to check for exact markers and any give or retakes! I have also set myself a goal of beating our previous scores for these tests (58% for Prelim 13 and 63% for Prelim 18.)
These goals are a tad ambitious as our highest ever mark at Prelim level is 65% which we scored in July last year. We have only done a handful of prelims since then, so it’s hard to predict where we are right now. But I would like to be scoring low to mid 60s for both tests.
Both tests are fairly straightforward to ride, a few circles/half circles in trot, then a canter, change the rein in free walk and a second canter before coming down the centre line and halting. However, we are struggling with our centre lines a little at the moment and both of these tests have 3 centre lines in them!
Now my aim isn’t the best, so about half the time we slightly miss the centreline. But Scottie has decided to make this worse by even if my aim is spot on, he drifts down the line and becomes very wobbly towards the end where he tries to guess which way we are going to turn, which then makes our turn horrific. So we will be practicing lots of centre lines this week in preparation.
Another issue we have run into stems from us spending a lot of time working on our canter and encouraging him to come down and round. Scottie is now anticipating and worrying about when he is going to be asked to canter and his trot work is suffering. On Saturday he was anticipating it so much that he was being a bit of a prat in trot, I decided to work on the canter first and get it out of the way. Our canter work was good, we got nice and low on both reins fairly quickly and did a few nice sized circles.
However, afterwards he still didn’t want to do any trot work as in his mind, he was finished and wanted to go out in the field with his friends. So although our canter and walk work was nice on Saturday, our trot work was appalling! In the end I gave up and focused on a few trot-halt transitions along the long side to keep us straight and then called it a day.
I have decided to try and stop him being stupid in trot about the canter to not do any cantering in this evening’s session and just push through any silliness we have. (I’m hoping he is over it all by himself!) I am hoping that a session focusing entirely on walk and trot should refocus him on the things he is good at. We have been doing a lot of work on transitions within the trot recently which he has responded to really well and they have really improved his trot work. After this session I will decide as to how to continue with the canter issue before the show.
I am also starting to think about my warm up for the show. I’m hoping to have at least a good 20 mins to warm up. I want to spend this time making sure Scottie is going forwards and accepting a contact and ideally working nice and round. I only want to have a short canter on both reins in our warm up and want to do more trot work after each canter to make sure he is listening and ready for the test.
Despite being well over last month’s cold, we still do get a few big coughs after 10-20 mins of work in the school. I’m struggling to find the cause of the cough, I think his airways might just be a bit sensitive after the virus (which is fairly common in horses apparently!) and exercise moves anything sitting in them, causing him to cough. As once he has had a few coughs he is absolutely fine and I’m not really hearing him cough at any other time, just the occasional one off every now and then.
However, I don’t really want him coughing during the tests if we can help it. So I plan on soaking hay for the week to try and avoid any dust causing it. I will also continue to give him licks and feed as much off the floor as I can. All these things should help keep his airways clear. I’m also hoping that he will have a few coughs in our warm up and clear it all for the day. If he’s still coughing next month I will be looking into potentially getting the vet out as he hasn’t really been a cougher before.
Hopefully everything will go smoothly on Sunday and I will have positive things to feedback to you!