On the 29th of October, I received a letter telling me that my recent application for Equestrian SA’s Youth Development Dressage Scholarship had been successful, and that Stormy and I were one of the 10 state-wide finalists to receive a weekend of coaching with well-known Victorian based dressage coach and rider Dirk Dijkstra. I was so incredibly surprised by this, as I had applied knowing we were so unlikely to get in, hoping that it may just get my name out there a little bit.
We had 2 weeks to prepare, and very early on Saturday the 12th of November we set off to McLaren Vale. The weekend was being held at the beautiful McLaren Vale Equestrian Park. The stables were AMAZING, and the indoor arena was incredible to ride on! We had two lessons with Dirk, an individual on Saturday and a group lesson on Sunday.
Stormy absolutely worked the house down in both of his lessons, I was so so happy with how he took in the atmosphere, working in a new indoor with a number of people all sitting in a scary grandstand like he had done it all before. Of course Storm was the only Standardbred there, however he didn’t let this phase him, and he showed everyone what he is made of! In our first lesson we continued to work on flexion and bend, and he thoroughly enjoyed a long canter! I had an interview on Sunday morning with Dirk and the co-selector Jan Gilligan, before we had another lesson. In our second lesson we got the chance to show everyone more of what he is capable of. We were given the opportunity to leg yield, shoulder in and work on his trot extensions. Storm felt fantastic in his leg yields, allowing us the opportunity to start a little bit of half pass. His shoulder ins are coming along in leaps and bounds, however it is incredibly difficult without my leg when we are on the right rein. We have continued to work on these things at home and with Megan, and he just gets better and better.
The winner of the scholarship is announced at the ESA awards night early next year (good excuse to buy a dress and get my hair done!), however Storm and I are just so incredibly thankful to have been given this opportunity! Storm and I made many new friends, and had a fantastic weekend together. If Storm continues to train like he did at the scholarship weekend the sky is the limit (funny saying I am writing this whilst on a plane to Equitana!).
We are competing at a dressage competition at Mt Crawford next weekend (26th of November), and then have three more hack shows, the last being on December 11. Hopefully we will have success at these competitions, theoretically we should do ok, but it is forever changing!