Saturday, Dressage

Swallowfields, P10 and P18.

I rushed Vin through a hurried grooming, quickly stowed his dressage tack and the rest of the gear, loaded him, gave him a haynet to keep his mouth if not his brain busy, closed up the tail ramp and drove the lorry out of the yard at 09.20.

Unfortunately I had to stop for diesel en route, there was a queue at the garage and it was later than I would have liked when we arrived at the competition venue.

I unloaded Vin, groomed him again, tacked up, put my tie and jacket on and changed my wellies for my long leather riding boots, donned hat and gloves, mounted and walked to the working-in arena.

We got called forward to the huge indoor arena and I asked a member of staff to call my test for me.

Overall our first test (Prelim 10) was good but Vin wasn’t as forward-going as he normally is; perhaps he didn’t want to be there.

He gave me an incorrect canter strike-off – something he did a fortnight ago at Abbey Dressage – but at least this time he let me correct the movement.

Apart from this error he was only slightly argumentative.

The caller was absolutely brilliant and refused my offers of cups of tea, coffee and/or food from the caterer as payment.

In between tests I struck up a conversation with a couple whose lorry was next to mine.

Coincidence number 1: They were at my yard on Thursday preparing a stable for a friend of theirs.

Coincidence number 2: They saw and said hello to Beech.

Coincidence number 3: They’re at a livery yard run by my yard manager’s friend, just a few miles from me.

Nice couple.

After a cup of tea and a fried egg roll (yeah, sorry about that) I got Vin ready and we worked in slowly, concentrating on transitions again.

Our second test (Prelim 18) started well but went gradually downhill from there; incorrect canter strikeoff again (I’m really going to have to school this out of him), little displays of resistance and pockets of being argumentative.

Nope, Vin didn’t want to be there.

In retrospect I wonder if his attitude was down to the first thing he saw when I unloaded him at Swallowfield; a field full of showjumps?

Also, as we worked in for the dressage I could feel that he was very interested in the four or five cross-country fences plainly visible.

So perhaps he wanted to go jumping rather than do boring old dressage?


The second test wasn’t horribly bad, it just wasn’t terribly good.

Our mark for P10 came in at 54% and we got 52% for P18; not too bad considering.

I untacked, groomed and gave Vin his haynet which he fell on as if he hadn’t eaten for days.

I went off for another cup of tea and, ahem, another fried egg roll and sat and chatted to another couple of contestants from Chaddesley Corbett – also near my yard.

Then I put Vin in his stall, closed up the lorry and at 13.30 began the drive back to the yard.

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the forum yard…

Driving through the narrow single-track lanes towards Hockley Heath…

Around the corner rather too-quickly for a country lane came a quick brand new unlicensed/unregistered Porsche.

It was obviously being test-driven by a potential buyer with the IBM-compatible-suited salesman in the passenger seat.

The look of absolute terror on the salesman’s face when they rounded the corner at 40 mph and found a ten-ton lorry occupying the width of the lane was absolutely priceless.

By 15.20 I was back at the house having returned to the yard, unloaded and groomed Vin, turned him out in his field, made a big fuss of Beech, put Vin’s tack away, mucked out the lorry, emptied the living accommodation of the usual day-out rubbish, photographed the lorry from three angles for the signwriter (tell you about that another time) and put it in its parking bay.