Just another amateur Show jumper – A Show jumper out of water
I did something out of character this month as a Show jumper and I went to a local dressage day. Truth be told
what sparked my interest was the lead rein class for my 5 year old daughter and her pony
Sam. She seemed keen, so I figured I might as well take a horse too. Now I’m not sure if it’s
the subjective nature of the competition or what, but while I really enjoy training dressage at
home, I would be lying if I was excited to be competing in it.
The day started off just trying to make sure I remembered everything. Most importantly, I
learnt from a previous mistake and made sure I had more than enough snacks for Miss 5.
Dealing with a hungry/angry 5 year old is bad enough at the best of times at home, much less
if it occurs in public at a show (or worse in the ring itself). So I had a bucket load of fruit and
As I have already hinted, the dressage arena is not my comfort zone however I was
determined to do a decent job. I spent time making Celeste look as presentable as I knew how
which is bloody hard when you are running after the kids. I also borrowed a dressage saddle
(which to a show jumper feels like a bucket). The long stirrups felt odd and the position the
saddle put me in was much deeper than what me and the horse are used too. Truthfully I ride
better without stirrups in my flat jump saddle, but alas I didn’t think that would be looked
upon kindly. So I sucked it up, and did my best impression of a Show jumper riding dressage.
What I found the hardest was riding so deep with my seat in the canter as Celeste is a horse
that I usually ride light. As such, our upward canter transitions included some tail swishing
and resistance (which could probably be translated to f**k you or something similar).
Remembering the test was another challenge. It’s funny that I can learn a Show jump course easily
in a few minutes, yet I struggle to learn a dressage test with weeks of preparation. Before I
went in, I recounted the test to Celeste’s owner who understands the dressage world more
Me “About here I do this, and about there I do that”
Celeste’s owner listens quietly.
Me “Oh, I throw the reins at her on the circle for the long and low”
Celeste’s owner gives me a half amused half worried look “Not actually throw them though
Me “Oh yes, it won’t be a show jumper throwing the reins, it will be demure and graceful”
Celeste’s owner looks relieved that she doesn’t have to stage an intervention.
Now the beginning of the test didn’t go to plan as the marker was laying on its side right next
to the entry thanks to the windy conditions. According to my horse it was rather spooky so
our trot down the centreline was more like a shy into the arena, followed by jockey trying to
get her s**t together as we headed to X.
Thankfully the beginning was probably the worst part, and while I could feel her eyeballing the other highly suspicious markers on their sides of the arena, there were no other spooks and she relaxed as she went on. All in all we
managed a decent test and didn’t disgrace ourselves considering my last dressage competition
was last year and then prior to that it would have been 10 years ago.
Now the idea of doing the lead rein class was great in theory. However in practice, it was
harder work than I anticipated. There was the option to do fancy dress, so of course we
thought that would be a good idea. So bring on Super Girl riding her Super Pony. Getting
both pony and jockey ready on time was my goal. Miss 5 first wants a snack, then I spot a
bright green poo stain on the pony’s previously pristine white sock, then Miss 5 needs to go
to the toilet. Oh and we cannot forget about Miss 5’s nerves being manifested in short bursts
of cranky/diva behaviour where I am calm on the outside but inside I simultaneously want to
throttle her and hope no one is watching.….Oh the joys! But despite this we were ready early
and once Miss 5 was on Super Sam she was happy (and the diva from minutes before
You would think I might have practiced the test on foot beforehand but alas, no (chronically
time poor mum). So I was really hoping my memory would serve me well. The sand arena
felt a lot like workout but in less comfortable shoes (my top boots). I tried to give my little
girl words of quiet encouragement, making sure the pony did was he was told, and not to trip
over ass over tit! Thankfully the test was over quickly, I kept some “mummy cred” by not
stuffing up the test, and most importantly, Miss 5 enjoyed herself.
Blue Ribbons…Miss 5 was excited to walk away with a blue ribbon and array of prizes from the day. With a
whopping score of 96% I have never seen nicer comments on a test and they made my little
girls day. Thank you NCEC and judges! This day reminded me that every once in a while it
is good to get out of your comfort zone, do something a bit different and hopefully learn
Until next time 🙂