Orange Grove Twilight Dressage

For some reason twilight insert your chosen discipline events seem to be popular here in WA, but I don't get it. It's way hotter in the arvo than it is first thing in the morning! But then I guess in the arvo you don't get blown away by the easterly... anyway I sign up for twilight events regardless and then just hope like hell it isn't a million degrees!
So shiny! He was scrubbed to within an inch of his life an Saturday and hated me for it. He smells so nice now!

Yesterday was a perfect arvo to do some dressage, warm but the sea breeze was in. Henry unloaded from the float and was very relaxed. He was relaxed in his yard, tacking up and for me to mount. We walked out to the warm up, which was huge and not too busy. And he lost his shit. He got really tense and completely lost his forward button, instead opting for sideways or backwards. I decided to hop off and work him from the ground because he was turning himself inside out.

The second I swung down, Hen took a breath and started to relax. I did some forward and back, then practiced park and after all of 5 minutes he was feeling a lot more pliable. I got back on and put him to work. He was still really tense but this time he was prepared to listen. The thing about this horse is he wants to be a really good boy, sometimes he gets very tense. someone who I didn't know said 'gee he's being very naughty!' and I told her no, hes just not sure since he is only 5. It annoyed me and I felt like she just din't understand horses at all. Anyway I put my brave pants on, had Jonna firmly in my head and kicked Henry forward. We did transitions, lots of changes of direction and while there were still a few theatrics like running forward and butt scooting, it was nothing worse. He actually settled really quickly.

Our first test was the novice, and while I knew it is a stretch for us, we can do all the movements at home. A new place would be harder but the test is much busier and would give us a better chance at staying focused. The judge gave us plenty of time around the arena, and I kept Henry forward and working. By the time we entered he was as settled as he was going to get.

The centerline was straight, but he went crooked in the halt. He did halt though, and then went on to do a very green, but solid test. He picked up the wrong lead to the left, but I corrected it quickly which earned us a 4, but he got a few 7's too. The walk felt good but watching the video back he could stretch down more which was the same for the stretchy trot circle, but I think that will come with more exposure. He also needs to develop his lengthened trot a bit more but again, that will come in time. This test was purely to see where we are at and to keep us both busier. My plan worked a treat and we were really focused. We ended up with a very respectable 63% (for those following along at home that's on par, if not better than what Coolie scores!). The marking was very fair, and the comments constructive.
Look at my grown up baby horse!

When we came out we parked in the warm up and chatted to a friend before I put him away briefly. The more exposure the better. I had about an hour between my tests so when I got him out again I opted for a short warm up but I purposefully walked him right into the middle and got to work around other horses. He was so much more settled when he understood what was going on and worked really well.

Our second test was the prelim 1A, a super easy test full of circles. Not challenging at all. The test was in the covered arena and while he has been in it before, yesterday it made him very unsettled. He completely avoided the contact and although once again we had plenty of time around the outside of the arena before the bell went, I couldn't get him to settle for any length of time. We did our best though and he was responsive although not into the contact. It felt really awful but I know he tried hard.
How the whole test felt

His halts were better in the second test, and he got the correct canter leads each time. Looking back at the test he was more into the contact than he felt though definitely much tenser than the second test. I don't know what it scored because by the time we were finished packing up the test still hadn't been released and it was getting dark so we left. I figured it wouldn't be worth looking at since I know we can do better and I know the areas we need to improve on but when I watched the test back and it looked so much better than it felt I was curious to know the score. Hopefully the test will be posted to us!
How a lot of the test looked

Overall this was a really good outing for Henry and me. It was very challenging and I had to really work through my own fear to get Henry to relax and work through his anxiety. I did it though and it didn't shake me at all. Instead I worked through it with him and stayed calm, and my brain was able to stay in the moment. Henry settled really well despite getting so wound up and we got a reasonable score.
Canter will always be his happiest place

I am very proud of both of us and am very excited to see where this year leads us!



  1. What does "arvo" mean? Is that the evening? I've never heard that word before.

    Congrats on working through your own fear to give him what he needed to get relaxed. That is super hard to do and is a big win right there.

    1. It's afternoon in Australian haha. Just a bit of my accent creeping through ;)

      Thanks, I think so. I'm pretty proud of us both!

  2. woo congrats! sounds like exactly the type of outing you were hoping for! and like Henry had a good experience working through his own nerves but ultimately still being able to be a good boy <3

    1. It was the perfect experience for us both. It was really goo dto work through it with him and have him settle into his work. It was hard for him but he tried to be a good boy and you can't ask for more than that!


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