Brigadoon Goals

It’s the last event of the season this weekend and I am looking forward to the event and already counting down to next season. I am looking forward to some more relaxing riding over summer too, but already have some goals to achieve during the off season.

As always the last event is at Brigadoon and we have an early start tomorrow morning. I am planning on a pre ride and being in the saddle at just after 7, before warming up for our test at 9. We also have SJ tomorrow morning and then XC Sunday morning so it’s going to be a relaxed weekend even if we do have to get up early.

After Capel I have a few things that I am going to change at this event to try and get the best work out of Henry and me, and hopefully help me put my nerve aside. One thing I missed was not writing my goals for the weekend down.

First and most importantly, I need to have fun. I love this sport and I love my horse so it should be pretty easy. I have done the hard yards and I need to remember to enjoy the ride.

Secondly I need to focus on the warm up plan, not worry about how Henry will react in the warm up. Keeping him and me busy going through the list of things I need to check off will help calm nerves and by the end I will have a horse who should hopefully be relaxed and listening. So when I get on I immediately need a forward marching walk. If he is slow off my leg I need to get him sharper. If he is dull to the downward transition then I need to get it lighter.  I will probably have one and not the other, and then they will swap so it will take a bit of work to get the both light. Next I have to make sure I have turn equally in both directions. Through all this Henry needs to stay forward. Then I need to ensure that I have all these things in all gaits. Then I need to be brave and test for self carriage, dare him to do something I haven’t asked. If he changes anything it’s an opportunity to train him further and he will learn from it.

I also need to keep us both busy with lots of variation and have decided if we don’t have walk at first then I will work in trot and canter until he relaxes. I will also practice my halts and walk right before we go in for our test. I will not worry about what other riders are doing, I can’t ride their horses for them. I need to be in the zone!

Ideally I want a relaxed dressage test, but that really depends on how Henry is coping with the atmosphere. I can’t change how he reacts but I can change how I react and remain calm and confident. No matter what, staying in the arena and attempting the test is what we are there for and if I warm up how I plan then I have achieved what I set out to do.

All weekend I need to be daring, bold, brave and on the offensive. I need to pretend like Jonna is there and daring me to do something I didn’t think I was brave enough to do. I can do this, Henry is a star and can do it too so I need to believe it in the moment.

Ideally I want a clear show jumping round. I want it calm and forward. I need to remember my jelly arms and to trust my training. I need to warm up and get my body into position as much as Henry needs to warm up, and I need my leg on! When I enter the arena, I need to make sure he is focussed on the jumps and not what’s going on outside. I need to show him all 4 corners of the arena before we start and trot him past anything he might look at.

Cross country is the phase I want to treat most like training. I want a nice, easy, confident round. On my walk I need to really look at the jumps and what’s around him to try and see anything he might need a good look at. Things with a different profile, like big pipes he will need a good look at on approach. Change in ground colour before a jump needs to be noted by me, bright colours also.

On the course, I want to ride forward and positively, not thinking that he is going to spook or stop. I got a bit caught out with this at Capel, and if I think he’s going to look, he is going to look. Duh! Instead I need to be aware of what he might look at and give him extra time without riding backwards. Depending on the approach to the water I will attempt to canter in. He is confident at this water however a competition setting is different so I will gauge this on the day.

I will need jelly arms for XC and will go for a deeper take-off if I can.  Time is not important but self-carriage is, I want a nice flowing round where he feels confident and happy. I will wear a watch to get a feel for our pace but I will trot where I need to. I want him to be prompt in coming to trot where I ask, but if I want to trot into a jump I need to ask early.

I want to let him flow into jumps better and jump them out of stride a bit more. He really got this at Capel and I want to continue building on this.

Lastly, I want to be positive all weekend. I know I will do my best in the saddle, and ultimately we are there to train. The scoreboard isn’t important at this event, but being relaxed and happy is. I am going to be organised and allow myself plenty of time to warm up before all phases. That probably means 45 minutes for dressage and XC. Show jumping will need less because he will have just done dressage. I need to remember I can only control me, and how I react to things. If I do my best I have nothing to be upset about. It’s supposed to be fun, and I should be proud of myself for getting Henry to where he is regardless of how he performs on the day.

Wish us luck, it’s going to be a great weekend!  Hopefully we stay dry and the course isn’t too soggy, it’s been very wet this week!


  1. Good luck and have fun!!! You sound like you have a great plan heading into the weekend

    1. Thanks, it's always better if I have a plan!


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