Chocolate and I went to one of our local venues where we both feel very much at home. We entered the Prelim and Novice dressage classes and warmed up very calmly considering we had not been out much since last year.
Prelim – Our test time arrived and we entered the ring, I proceeded to trot around until the bell went indicating us to start the test – things were going very well until we approached the side of the school that is by the car park, where an unruly barrier had been left perched against the side in the school, with a very large white sign on it stating ‘No Parking’ – there was no chance of Chocolate parking anywhere near that barrier to the point we had dramatically spun and shot off across the school – I managed to stay on and regain control of a fashion, but I knew straight away that Chocolate’s mind was now blown and this was going to be a very difficult test to ride.

The judge then rang the bell meaning our test had to be started – I took several deep breaths and proceeded up the centre line.
Long gone was my nice relaxed Chocolate, as now I was riding a very tense fire breathing dragon – we did our movements in a fashion, we did not manage a second canter and every time we passed the barrier we had to compromise with a shoulder in and me genuinely closing my eyes – we managed to stay as a pair and even managed a lovely halt at the end of the test, where you could clearly hear us both say – “Thank god that is over!”
The concerning thing was – we still have the Novice test to ride, in the same arena!!

The Novice – well I tell you now, round 2 was not something I was looking forward to but, as a rider/competitor I thought “Chocolate has seen it now so we shall be okay this time, after all the barrier did not jump out and bite him”.
Again, we warmed up lovely, nice and relaxed and I was feeling hopeful that we could redeem ourselves. We entered the ring and I tried to give Chocolate as much confidence as I could, telling him that everything was fine.
The bell rang and we started our test, the barrier was still there but I was managing to ride past it now, even with my eyes open and Chocolate was still fairly relaxed – half way through the test I felt myself smile, thinking ‘Yes we have got this’ and I am sure Chocolate felt it too.
We started our last canter movement which involved coming face to face with the barrier at a totally new angle – unfortunately this was then game over for us, as Chocolate had tried his hardest to contain himself right up until this point, but this tipped him over the edge and off we went sideways again! By the time I had him facing the right way, it was time to head down the centre line to finish the test!
As much as I was frustrated about how the test had finished there was a big part of me that knew Chocolate had tried his hardest to contain that spook – but we just did not quite make it!
To sum up, after competing in 2 large classes we came home with no ribbons this time, but we did have some lovely comments off the judges, giving us positives to keep working on.
It does make me chuckle when the judge says what a lovely cheeky horse – I call him different names on days like these…………..

To be continued next week…

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