Joanna Thurman-Baker’s dressage blog: maybe I should hire some children to do gymnastics while I’m riding…

  • Hi all and welcome to my latest blog.

    So this blog starts with non-horsey things because occasionally, like once in a blue moon, I do things that don’t involve a horse being nearby. So after working a solid eight weeks without a day off, I was feeling the strain.

    As a welcome relief, I was invited up to Silverstone to watch Flick Haigh race in the British GT. Flick owns Habil XX and Duque FF, the two lush PREs I’m riding. I’ve never been to Silverstone or even watched racing, so it was totally new experience for me and I LOVED IT!

    We got to go in the pit lanes, see the car and watch the change over of drivers. Flick drives an Aston Martin GT3, and my gosh, she goes so fast. My heart was in my mouth watching her giving it the gas round the corners while being chased by more super cars. All I can say is that it definitely makes dressage look tame! It was also incredible to see her and team mate Jonny Adams place third, with her being the only woman in the race.

    Flick’s car

    When I got home, I was itching to get on the horses and step on the gas, which Habil did! He is coming on leaps and bounds. I’m excited to be taking him to Sheepgate premier league soon; he’s such a talent for the future.

    Another super non-horsey and very granny-ish thing that I did, was drag my boyfriend along to a Mary Berry book signing. I love Mary and it was great to meet her and get a new cookbook; Fast Cakes. This massively appealed to me as I love cake and with little time on my hands, making one fast sounded great. I’ve tested a few of the recipes and I can confirm they are excellent. It’s a fun little hobby of mine to bake and cook and my family love the results so it’s a win all round!

    Meeting Mary Berry with my boyfriend

    Now, back to the riding. After a few weeks of at home training, I was feeling ready to contest the under-25 class at Hickstead premier league (pictured top).

    It was a hot day, and being ginger, I don’t do hot days. I’m just not a fan of the sun.

    Our trot work was good, the passage piaffe on the half circles is really hard, but that will come with time. Being dyslexic I struggle with understanding shapes, so trying to ride a half circle in passage when my brain’s gone dead and doesn’t know what a half circle looks like, is pretty hard.

    I was pleased with how the test was going… up until the canter, where a small girl started doing cartwheels as the end of the arena on the grass walkway. Apollo stopped dead in the extended canter and then picked up canter on the opposite leg, meaning we did no flying-change. The rest of the canter work was then very uptight as he had his spooky eyes out by then. Our one-time tempi-changes were towards where the girl had been, so he didn’t fancy going that way and we veered off on a curly wurly line resulting in a few less flying-changes then we were meant to do. As I walked out, judge at E Mark Ruddock said to me what a shame about that child, so at least the judges must have seen it too. I was really disappointed with a mark of 64.56%, as I know we can do better than that. It is really frustrating when you work so hard to get to a show to do your test and something outside of your control causes issues for you.

    Article continues below…

    You might also be interested in:

    Dressage is about controlling your own controllables, and unfortunately I can’t control every child on a show ground and give them mental vibes to not have a fun cartwheel while people are competing. Alternatively, maybe I should get my shorts on and practise my cartwheels outside Apollo’s stable to desensitise him. Or maybe I should hire a group of small children to do gymnastics around the arena while I’m riding…?

    With the current heatwave, we are getting up at 4am to get the horses done before the heat and the flies. Unfortunately where we live, we get not only horse flies, but deer flies, which are like mutant horse flies. They are only out for about two weeks, but they drive the horses nuts.

    I’m off for a power nap now — see you all next time for my next catch up!


    For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine out every Thursday

    You may like...