H&H dressage editor’s Area Festival video diary: Playing with the ‘proper’ horses

  • I kept the things I was supposed to in mind. I kept my leg on. I didn’t pull on Fab’s face too much. I did tits and teeth on all four centre lines in the medium 69 test and grinned at C judge Christian Landolt every time I trotted towards him.

    And it bloody worked.

    Christian had me to win on 69.5%. Another judge had me second on 69.5%. But the third didn’t like what she saw (a 5 from her and two 7s from the others for one of my walk pirouettes).

    But that’s dressage for you and, ultimately, it’s not the individual marks that count; it’s all about the average and I was genuinely thrilled with my horse in the ring. Sometimes she can be an unhelpful little thick-headed brute.

    We finished fourth in open company in only our second ever open test — the first being the medium open Area Festival test we did that earned us our wild card to these championships.

    The greatest thing about dressage — that’s usually unobtainable for me — is when your horse goes as well as it possibly can, and I felt that today. Our left half-passes were still a bit crap and the medium walk after the extended walk was too crispy, but frankly I knew that would happen. And when the bits you know might be dodgy are alright and the bits that can be OK are passable, that amounts to a pretty good effort.

    Even my ultra-competitive alter-ego didn’t raise her dastardly head today to nitpick and remind me that if I’d done this or that differently I could have been in the prize-giving.

    Keith told me that my chicken elbows had been the deciding factor, as I wasn’t aerodynamic enough.

    Only the top three get a prize-giving, which is pretty rubbish, but I can understand that having fourth to 10th horses all milling about back-stage too creates carnage.

    Way back in the day when Fab and I were third in the prelim final we had a great time on our lap of honor, and the trotting photo from there (thank you Kevin Sparrow) is one of my most treasured. These days, the winner gets a lap of honor, but second and third places have to shuffle out in walk after attempting to stand still long enough to shake hands with the class sponsor.

    It sucks that the reserve national champion doesn’t even get a lap of honor shot.

    I know it’s to preserve the sanity of the horse warming up in the adjacent collecting ring, but the stewarding at this show is second to none, so why not tell riders that they have to be walking by the time they enter the tunnel?

    Anyway, onwards and upwards for tomorrow, where we’ll just have to pray we make it into that illusive top three (yeah, right).

    Catch up with earlier episodes of Fab TV:

    Blog one: Dead sheep and lazy swans

    Blog two: A weighbridge, ice cream and escaping

    Blog three: Interrupted by Charlotte Dujardin

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