Listen to Dee’s audio blogs here

Friday

I’ve just done my dressage test, which I was delighted with. There were a few little mistakes, but as a whole I was really pleased and the score was good so I can’t complain at all.

This morning we got up and rode him quite early on. I rode him for about 40mins and he worked well, then we put him away and gave him a pick of grass. Then I rode him again and went through the test and put him away again. Then I got myself changed — I had a good hour to get changed which was good as there was no rushing.

Then we went up to warm up for the actual test and again he worked well even though it is windy, so it’s difficult conditions, and very noisy with everything rattling.

When it came to the test I was absolutely delighted with him. He went into the arena and, instead of tensing up and becoming small because of the crowds, he went in and grew with presence. That put a smile on my face straight away and filled me with confidence to ride a really positive forward test. We did have a few little mistakes but as a whole I’m delighted.

I’ve now adorned my wellies for course walk number 3. Hopefully we are going to walk it today and be pretty positive about where we are going and then I’ll have one finally course walk tomorrow — course walk number 4, it keeps you fit! Obviously you need to know all your options so you’ve got to think of worse case senarios, but on the whole it will be a positive walk.

Then I’ll watch as much as I can on the screens and go out and watch a couple of the more tricky fences such as the coffin, the flowerbeds, perhaps Huntsman’s Close and the Lake, which is nice and close. Then it’s time to get on and kick on!

In the morning after doing my coursewalk, I’ll jump on and take him for a nice little canter and just let his wind open up. I’ll aim for a really nice and relaxed canter to let him think he’s on top of the world and give him lots of pats.

Then I’ll put him away and he’ll have some time to relax and we will try to keep away from him as much as possible. He has had a lot of attention today with us plaiting and everything — he is probably utterly fed up with us, he has seen us all morning and all afternoon.

I’ll get on him about 45mins before I’m due to set off. I’ll have a little canter and a jump and then come up into the main collecting ring about 10mins before. I’ll probably hope off (and pop to the toilet!) grease him up and then away we go!

Wish us luck…

Thursday

I’ve ridden Elliot this morning. He went really well, I’m very very pleased with him. He seems to be taking the atmosphere in his stride; and so do I, surprisingly, but doing dressage on Friday does give you a chance to relax a little bit of Thursday.

I’ve have just been shopping, but I haven’t bought anything yet for myself. I saw some nice things, but I must behave myself!

When I rode earlier I concentrated on only working for short bursts, so we do a bit of work, then I give him a long rein. That seems to work to keep him relaxed. We are working on the individual movements, rather than stringing the whole test together at the moment.

I’m pleased with the way he is going. He has been doing the movements required in this test for several years now so because he isn’t having to learn anything new it’s helping him to relax.

Looking ahead to the cross-country, I’m starting to feel the twang of nerves hitting me. I go through the fences one at a time in my head and so far I’ve got to about fence 6. I think the course is going to cause problems everywhere. I’m not quite sure which my bogey fences are yet, but after this next walk I think I will have a clearer idea. I’m really looking forward to walking the course with Lucinda Green at 3pm.

Tomorrow we will get up and ride in the morning. We will try to emulate exactly what we will do in the afternoon. He’ll probably have a little lunge and then I’ll jump on and do a few warm up exercises, before running through the test.

Last year he was very very bright so I had to do a lot before the dressage — I think I ended up riding him 7 times on the Thursday but I was last to go on the Thursday afternoon. I don’t think we will need to do that this year. He was very relaxed at his last dressage at Burnham Market, if anything a little too relaxed!

We will ride him early enough that if we have to ride him a couple of times before his test we can. I’ll aim not to ride him for too long before going in the arena. I want to still have some jump, rather than having a flat horse, when we get in the arena. Elliot is the sort who could very easily get stage fright, which can make him tense. Obviously it’s going to be maximum crowds with it being Friday dressage, probably around the middle of the day. Let’s hope quite a few people are out having their lunch!

I’m aware that the dressage isn’t his strongest phase but he is definitely improving and is going the best he has ever gone. I’m a realist and I’m just aiming to do the best test we have done so far. I would be pleased with a low 50s. Last year he got a 54 so it would be nice to go slighter better than that.

Well that’s it for today. Log on for my next update tomorrow.

Dee