A few weekends ago Coolie and I headed off to dressage club. We had a rally on Saturday and a training day on Sunday. Originally I had planned to go to Yalambi Show Jumping with Andrew, but I was too sad about not riding so stayed home to look after all the animals and go to dressage instead!
Saturday we had a lesson with a new coach who hadn’t met Coolie before. Coolie is getting a bit of a fan club up, he’s just such a sweet horse who tried his best. He wont ever be fancy, but everyone loves him anyway! I told the coach where we were at, mostly show jumping but working hard on the flat and that our transitions needed work.
We did lots of leg yielding before transitions to keep Coolie soft and round, especially into canter. His leg yields were all quite good and off the aide, he is getting much better about sideways stuff this year. The transitions definitely improved, as I knew they would as we have done this exercise before. It’ll take work to get them really good, and he needs to be a bit faster off the aide too.
We also had a quick look at turn on the haunches which will help strengthen Coolie, especially after he has time off later this year. They were so much better than last time we attempted them and I was happy to feel how much lighter he was off my leg! Overall we had some really good improvements between rallies and he was such a good boy, the coach really like him and how much he looked after me. He is the best for sure.
We set up the arenas for the next day in the sun, and it was quite warm! It always takes us ages because we don’t quite know what we are doing…
Sunday was wet! It rained all morning and Coolie and I got soaked through. Originally I had entered 2 novice tests on Henry but since he was out of action I changed my entry to do just 1. We could do 2 but given he hasn’t done dressage since 2019, it’s not our favourite, and we haven’t really practiced I thought I would keep it easy and just do 1 test.
Because of the rain loads of people had scratched so I got there and got on and warmed up right away. He was really lovely in the warm up, though a little behind the leg. He had some great transitions and was nice and responsive to the aides. I took my time and kept him busy without over doing it. The whole aim of the day was to just enjoy it and enjoy being able to be out riding without a small child to worry about!
As we walked over to the arena, Coolie absolutely knew what was about to happen. The walk started marching and swinging and he puffed himself right up. It was hilarious to feel, he certainly understands the game! I picked up trot and he was so forward but on side, no tension. I could keep my hands up and soft and he worked into the contact. It was a good feel of what my hands should be doing compared to what they are usually doing.
The test itself was pretty good. The trot work was all lovely, accurate and easy. We had a lovely stretchy trot and walk, both things we have struggled with in the past. I was pretty happy the whole way through and smiled the whole test. The canter was where the wheels fell off a bit. The first transition was late but the canter quality was good. The downward transition was nice and the extension and 15m circle were all ok. The second transition was much more off the aide, but in the extended canter Coolie decided he was bored so took off down the long side.
I laughed and told him he was very silly, and then we did a 15m circle and he had to sit on his butt and come back to me. The extended trot after was really sparkly and the test finished well! The judge, a friend, said after it was a really good test for Coolie and it certainly felt like it was! And it scored that way too, with a few 7’’s and mostly 6.5’s. The canted was a 5 which was fair but for a show jumper it was really quite good.
I certainly wont rush back to dressage but it is nice to know we can go and out down a decent novice test after so long away. We will be sticking to show jumping but it was fun to give it a go and get very wet in the process!