Thursday 26th October
On Thursday we went up to Bury Farm Equestrian Village in Buckinghamshire, for the British Dressage Quest National Finals. I was competing in the Intro U18’s Section of Team Quest, with my team. I was doing Intro B and Intro C.
When we got there we unpacked Lady’s stuff and then we took Lady to her stable. The stables were very pretty and big. Lady was very lucky as she was in the permanent stables. Once we had taken all of her things out and given Lady some hay, we got her settled in. We took her for a walk, to show her around and to stretch her legs because she had been in the trailer for nearly 4 hours. Lady was very spooky and was very jumpy but she did calm down after about 15 minutes of walking. After this we put Lady back in her stable and gave Lady her tea. Then we said good night.
Mummy booked a room at the Holiday Inn so we went there. We started unpacking and got everything ready. We went and had tea and mine was yummy (I had chips and sausages - I am allergic to Dairy and Soya so I don’t get much choice of foods when we are away) After tea, I got my PJ’s on and snuggled up in bed.
Friday 27th October
The next morning, we got up early, went and had our breakfast then we went to see Lady. I filled up her water, I cleaned her stable and I emptied the wheel barrow. Then I tacked Lady up with mummy’s help and rode in the outdoor warm up arena. She was as good as gold, even though she had been spooky the day before. I then took her into the Indoor arena. She was pretty good but I know that Lady doesn’t like indoor arenas. I am going to work on this over winter!
I was excited as mummy told me that the rest of the Spice BYRDS team were coming today too. We went to get some food and then in the evening Mummy walked Lady again and she was much better.
On Friday evening we went to the International Arena to watch a demonstration with Garreth Hughes who is an International Dressage Rider. Three people got to go through their test with Garreth (Intro, Prelim and Novice) and then Garreth talked us through what they needed to do to improve their test and what he liked. I found this helpful as he gave me lots of tips on what I could do, like, asking for more inside bend, to help the horse or pony not spook. One thing that Gareth said, that mummy liked was that ‘’we all go into a test, with the intention of trying our best so, it is important to remember that when it doesn’t go to plan! Nobody sets off looking to make mistakes!!’’ Mummy said that this is important to remember, especially as a parent as it can sometimes be frustrating watching from the sidelines! She said she was sure that lots of parents and carers could relate to this! We left about 8pm after checking on Lady and saying good night to her.
Saturday 28th October
On Saturday we woke up, went and got breakfast, got Lady’s tack and headed off to see her. Today my the day of my first test, I was very excited but nervous too as there was lots for Lady to spook at in the International Arena (which is where my first test was) All the team had arrived and we got to say hello properly. Spice BYRDS team is Emily, Lainey, Jemima, me and Isobel (but sadly Isobel couldn’t come to the Nationals) :-(
All of the team were riding before me so I watched them as our team spirit was good and it is good to support each other. They all did really well and Jemima came 1st in the Novice class. We were all really happy for her.
I kept asking mummy when I could get on Lady as I was so excited. Finally, mummy let me on and I warmed Lady up in the indoor warm up area. Lady was being a bit rude in the warm up as she kept snatching my reins away and she wasn’t listening to my legs. Before I knew it, it was time for my test! We entered the arena and there was a man on the speaker saying my name and talking about Lady and me. I walked Lady around the arena (there was no arena walks so it was the first time Lady had seen it!) She was very spooky but I still carried on and hoped for the best.
The buzzer went and I entered up the centre line. There was a rope in the corner of the arena (on the outside but near M) and she was scared of it, which didn’t help getting her into the corner! I was a bit nervous now but I was still determined to keep going. We got to the end of the test and I wasn’t very pleased about how our test had gone. I came out of the test and took Lady into the Outdoor warm up as I wanted to finish on a more positive note. Which we did. I took Lady back to her stable and gave her a big pat to say well done.
I went and got some chippys (chips) for my tea as we were staying to watch the PSG dressage evening. We watched International Dressage Riders: Toby Hewlett, Victoria Maw, Sadie Smith, Louise Robson, Sofie Butchart, Lilly Hewitt, Harry Payne, Joanna Thurman-Baker, Nathalie Kayal, Tahley Reeve-Smith, Leah Beckett and Elder Klatzko. It was really very brilliant. I really liked watching their medium trot and medium canter. The people that had won their class in the day also got paired with one of the international riders and were able to comment of their PSG test and later on they all got advice to help them with their second test. One of our team members - Jemima was paired with Harry Payne. Jemima had a great time and it was great to watch her enjoying it.
The last rider to ride was Elder Klatzko with her horse, Woodlander Little Richard (aka Richie) Richie thought the arena was scary too! When Elder had finished I went to see her as her pony was spooky like my pony was in the International Arena. I asked if I could talk to her and she said ‘’of course!’’ We talked about how both ponies had been spooky and Elder reassured me that all the spooky ponies are the best. Elder asked me if I had my riding hat and if I would like to sit on her horse, Richie! I felt very very lucky and Daddy went to get my hat.
I got on and he felt very very big! I walked him around and he was really good. I had my picture taken with Elder, while I was on Richie. When I got down, I said a big ‘’Thank you’’ to Elder. Elder said ‘’ you can now tell people that you have ridden a Grand Prix horse!’’
She then talked through what I could do to help improve my tests, especially when Lady is being a bit difficult. I am going to start practicing ‘shoulder in’ which we like to do when we are hacking. I said a huge thank you for taking the time to talk to me and letting me ride her horse and said good bye.
We went to say goodnight to Lady and check her water and I gave her a swede to eat, for an evening treat. Mummy said that it was really good for us all to see and know, that it goes wrong, even when you are at the top! We headed back to our Holiday Inn. I was feeling very lucky about the day and I went to sleep quite quickly, as I was tired.
Sunday 29th October
On Sunday our team was riding quite early. Lainey was on first, just after 9am, then Emily and then Jemima. They all rode brilliantly and I felt really proud to be part of the Spice BYRDS team. We all made sure that we watched each other’s tests so that we could support each other and be a good team. My second test was up next 11.09am, I warmed up Lady early as we had a few disagreements the day before! We went through our transitions, we did some trot canter transitions, we did a bit of bending and free walk and I had a nice talk to the other people riding in the arena, about their ponies. I like talking to other people, it’s nice.
The steward called me over for my tack check (everything was fine) and then the next steward called me in for my test. There was huge Team Quest boards around the arena which I was not looking forward to as I thought Lady would spook at them….she did! I started to flex her, to take her mind off of the boards and she soon settled. We trotted around the edge, the bell rang and we were off! Lady was a bit tense but I smiled the whole way though and I could feel that Lady was trying harder today.
I turned down the centre line, looked at the judge, smiled, halted and saluted… I was done! My last test and I thought it went really well. She was forward (although could have been a little more forward) she listened (most of the time!) and she tried. I was really happy with my pony. I gave her a long rein and we left the arena.
We got out of the arena and I said to mummy, that I had tears in my eyes as I was so happy. After cooling Lady down and taking her back to her stable, I spent the rest of the day playing with my friends, we had lots of fun! I also got to choose a photo to buy, of Lady and me. In the evening there was a presentation for the winning teams. Sadly our team just missed out, but our team spirit and the fun we had was just as good as getting a rosette. I felt such a lucky girl and I was there with my family and my friends. Once the presentation finished, we packed up and said goodbye to our team. We got Lady out of the stable…she was very excited to be going home!!
We loaded up and off we went, back home. We got home at 9.45pm. Lady was pleased to get back and see her friends Hirka and Tiggywinkle, then we snuggled her up, in her bed. I felt wide awake, as I slept the whole way back!
We are now having a quieter few weeks. Lady has had her wolf teeth out so, she has had a week off. We are going to enjoy some hacking, before it gets too dark after school and soon we will be back to night time riding and hacking. (dedication!)
My winter homework:
I am going to be working on my contact in canter and getting a softer canter. I need to remember to relax my shoulders and keep my elbows back. I also need to work on my core strength so that I can do this all the time. This will also help Lady. Mummy and Louise will help me do this. I am also going to be working on my core strength, in Pilates, with Nina.
As you know, Lady does not ‘like’ indoor arenas so, we will be making a few trips to some indoor arenas to help Lady overcome her dislike! Over the winter we are also going to be looking at what we have done this summer and make it perfect. (Lady and I have only been competing in dressage since March 17 so we have not really stopped! It’s been a busy summer.)
This summer has been really special. We have achieved so much together, had great fun and both of us have learnt a lot! I want to say a massive Thank you to Mummy, Louise Hutchinson, and Kanyon Outdoor for all of the support that I get. I am a lucky girl and I really appreciate it all.
The biggest Thank you needs to go to Lady for always trying her best and for being my bestest pony.