Confessions of a horsey couple blog: why you should NEVER call a dressage test for your other half…

  • Sorry all for the radio silence — it’s been a big few months for us, moving cities, moving house and moving jobs. On the plus side, this has meant we have been able to take up sharing two wonderful horses, so our summer was full of riding (and, to the dismay of our families, actively failing to plan a wedding…)

    Our new steeds are stabled next to a fantastic yard that runs regular clinics, so after a summer of brushing up on our dressage skills, He and I decided to enter the ‘fun’ dressage competition at the local ‘end of summer’ show. The show was laid back and supportive, but it meant our classes were very busy, and we realised it would be unrealistic to expect a rosette — just getting through the test would be an achievement in itself!

    Kindly, as I was riding just before Him, He offered to call out my dressage test for me. Obviously, given His history as the unexpected ‘dressage diva’, He was the favourite to post the better score out of the two of us. However, I was quietly hopeful about my chestnut mare. I had (with variable success) spent the previous month trying to convince her there was more to life then charging at jumps or gunning through fields at 100mph with her nose firmly in the air… We had a bit of a breakthrough in our final lesson before the competition, where her true talents were starting to shine through.

    After a questionable warm-up (cantering on the wrong leg on both reins and unable to get ANY bend due to my nerves), we were called into the arena. To my surprise, the test was going great — my wonky-egg-at-C had the fewest corners it had ever had, and my mare was starting to soften and even make (dare I say it) a shape that, if you squinted hard enough, could resemble an outline! I was coming to the final few movements, concentrating hard and listening to Him calling.

    “At A, working trot. Between H and E, medium walk.”

    I trotted around the area after A, momentarily lost as we trotted towards B, not H or E.

    The judges tooted their horn to signify an error in the course — as He had neglected to read out the ‘KXM change of rein’ that should have occurred after A.


    I was devastated. Obviously. it was partially my fault for concentrating so hard on the riding and relying solely on the caller, but I also felt miffed that He had missed a movement so close to the end of the test.

    After finishing my test, we switched over and (as tempting as it was to return the favour), I made sure to call out ALL of the right parts for Him.

    The class continued, and we walked the horses back to the box. He was very apologetic and insisted the mistake was genuine — hmm…

    Continued below…

    It was soon forgotten when we looked at the results board later in the day and saw that He had managed to get fourth place in a class of around 12 competitors! I, as expected, hadn’t been placed but I was proud and ecstatic for His accomplishment on a horse He had only ridden for a month.

    Totally ecstatic, until later that evening, when I finally sat down to look at the score sheets. I had achieved 156.5 in the test but had two marks deducted due to the mistake. He had 156.3, meaning that, had He not sabotaged me, I would have come fourth and Him fifth. For the first time in our competing career I would have beaten Him, had He not failed to call out the penultimate part of my test.

    Suspicious, veeeeery suspicious.

    I realise He is a TOTAL dressage diva, causing dressage drama to win — and so next time I’ll make sure a third party does the test calling!


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