Tag Archives: Dressage

Taylah and Sym – Back in the Game!!

Things have been super busy with work and competitions. I started two new jobs early September, they are both my dream jobs, working casual positions with one riding beautiful home bred performance horses and the other at a race horse spelling, breeding, pre training and re training property in Berry. Learning about the breeding program and being involved with the foal work is something I have never done and love learning about. I am also lucky enough to be riding the gorgeous pre trainers and the re trainers.



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Jessie Smith and her Dressage Scholarship

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!



Catching up with Andrea Parker – A Dressage ‘Holiday’

Back in January, my partner Steve announced that he wouldn’t be taking holiday’s this year. Naturally, my first thought was, ‘Damn, I guess we won’t be sunning ourselves on a beach in Thailand, cocktail in hand this year’, then of course I realised that my horse makes this a financial impossibility. My initial disappointed gave way to excitement as I realised the potential this held for my pony and I to take a ‘working holiday’ on the Sunshine Coast.


With my annual leave allowance rapidly accruing, a plan took shape to take the entire month of August to do a few competitions and pack in as many lessons as Nonie and I could handle. As the year rolled on and I realised that I had qualifying scores to ride novice and elementary at the State Championships, my enthusiasm only grew.


At the beginning of August, I set off from Mackay feeling excited at the prospect of being able to travel to four competitions over as many weekends and to be able to sleep in my own bed each night. After a long and uneventful trip down, we arrived at the beautiful ‘Riverlyn’. Riverlyn is an agistment centre with paddocks so clean and well maintained that you could practically play golf on them. Nonie made herself quite at home in a paddock with mum’s mare, Brooke, on one side and on the other side a small dam which is home to all manner of birds (from ducks, to swamp hens and grebes), most of whom were intent on stealing Nonie’s feed. In a strange twist of fate, after a matter of days Nonie, my staunchly independent mare, had befriended mum’s mare.


As the days ticked by in a blur of horsey bliss, my first competition drew nearer, the Adult Amateur Owner Rider Championships. I don’t do early mornings well, so the Wilson’s Skinny Hood always comes in handy for keeping her plaits looking great overnight. After a relaxed start on Sunday morning, we arrived at the Caboolture Dressage Club grounds, and it must be said that these grounds are rather lovely, plenty of big tree’s in the car park, a large warm up area and four beautiful sand arena’s. I had no expectations coming into this competition in South East Queensland ‘Dressage Country’, and as I warmed up I was a bit blown away by the quality of the horses. They say fake it ‘til you make it and my Wilson Equestrian competition outfit (super stick breeches, long sleeved show shirt and show jacket) certainly helped me to feel the part.


It was one of those days where we seemed to have saved the best for last, although the first two tests felt soft and easy, they didn’t feel ground breaking. In the last test the work felt like it was on another level, Nonie and I were really in sync as the test flowed from one movement to the next. Although the results would have been out early, I wouldn’t let mum check the results until I had ridden my last test, a superstition that goes back so far that I no longer remember where it came from. Needless to say, I was pretty chuffed when I finally let mum check the score board and she reported that I had managed a 1st, 2nd and a 3rd. Even more exciting than that was having a new PB score of 67% in the elementary!


In between competitions, I made the most of the time on the Coast to progress my riding, through a number of lessons with Danielle. One of the things that I love the most about dressage is that feeling you get when something clicks, and you feel the quality of the work move up a notch. We worked on improving the overall quality of the paces, cleaning up the transitions, increasing the suppleness through Nonie’s body, building her carrying power and of course strengthening my position. On one particular day, the arrival of a goanna next to the arena helped me to really understand the amount of energy required in order to make the lateral work easier. This was a huge turning point for me as previously Nonie and I have not been at one with travers


As the month drew to a close, I began to get a little homesick, a feeling probably not helped by the fact that my partner Steve had picked up our 8 week old toy poodle puppy Sailor. I also began to feel rather nervous about the impending State Championships. In previous years my nerves have been a major problem preventing me from enjoying competitions and seriously affecting my riding. Over the past 18months, I have been working with a Performance Coach (Danielle Pooles – Dressage Plus) to help gain control over my nerves. I looked back over the notes from past sessions with Danielle and made a plan, I set goals that reflected how I wanted my tests at state to feel. The day prior to state I had a great ride, we were on the ball and Nonie had given me some great work, I felt excited and ready.


In the end I enjoyed riding at this massive competition, I soaked up the atmosphere and loved watching some seriously talented horse and rider combinations. It was particularly thrilling to watch some of the combinations in the FEI tests, it helped to remind me what I aspire to in my own riding. My decidedly un-horsey father, who used to joke that everything he knew about horses could be written on the back of a postage stamp, made it down to watch one of my tests and deemed Nonie to be a keeper. There were a few highlights from my time at state, one of them was definitely receiving a 64.7% in one of my elementary tests (including several 7s) from two very tough judges. The other was probably my last test, the Novice 2.3, were I finally fully relaxed and we clicked up into that next zone. It didn’t score as well as I might have hoped, but I left the arena with a huge grin on my face and my mum was happy – she will always be my toughest critic and greatest supporter.


One thing I can conclude after my month down in dressage country is that bling is certainly still in. However, like many of the good things in life (eg. wine, chocolate) bling is best enjoyed in moderation. This is just one of the many reasons that I love my Wilson’s Equestrian Show Jacket, the touch of black diamantes around the collar gives that bit of sparkle without overdoing it. My super stick breeches and long sleeved show shirt were as always supremely comfortable and handled the extra usage well.


While State was the last competition our calendar for 2016, Nonie and I will continue training hard with our sights set on having a medium start in 2017!

Andrea is taking out Dressage all over the place!

One of my coaches used to tell me that it was always better to ride a test bravely aiming for the 8’s and 9’s even if it sometimes meant that you had a mistake and got 3’s or 4’s as well. My most recent equine adventure could be summarised by this sentiment, albeit accidentally.



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Pony Club NSW State Titles with Tayhla Vuleta

PCANSW State Championships was Symmetry’s and my first major competition together and I could be happier with how we performed. We started with Show Riding on the Monday and Tuesday with placing in the top 8 in the rider class out of 72 riders. I was so proud of how Sym took in the atmosphere like she had done it for years.



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Jessie Smith – Keeping busy!! Getting Results!

It’s been a REALLY busy month for us!! It started with a dressage competition down at Moonta, where we competed in Preliminary dressage and presented our first freestyle to music. We didn’t score as well as we would have liked in the prelim, but we managed to snag second in the freestyle.



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5am – The time that a Dressage Rider generally starts the day!! Andrea Parker Update

5am always arrives early, particularly if like me you are not a morning person. However, over the last few weekends I have had the opportunity to observe the phenomenon that launches equestrians out of bed at the crack of dawn for a competition or lesson when on any other morning they would be hitting the snooze button multiple times pretending that they don’t have to start the day.

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