Points, prizes and Petplan preparations

I snuck out to Keysoe earlier this week to do a couple more Prelim tests. I was hoping to gain one decent score so we could qualify for the Petplan Area Festivals but as ever, my mind was more focused on not making a complete idiot of myself rather than winning any prizes!

Rupert arrived pretty chilled and only needed a little stretch on the lunge before I got on. It was lovely and quiet, so we went straight outside to warm up and get used to the usual spooky monsters. He felt very settled, even to the point of having to get after him a bit – which was a reassuring feeling! We still had trouble getting past the banners entering the arenas but with lots of leg and a couple of taps on the shoulder, we body swerved enough to get past them and up the centre(ish) line.

In the first test, Rupert broke into canter a couple of times when I asked for a bigger trot but the rest was OK so I was really pleased with him. Our second test was only ten minutes later, so just enough time for a quick stretch before picking him up and going back in. He felt a little behind my leg but there were no major hiccups and it was a really positive step forward.

Our scores were way above what I had hoped for – 66.8% in the first test and 71.79% in the second! As long as my calculations are correct, and maths isn’t my strong point, that means we have qualified for the Regionals – something I had never thought possible a few months ago. Now I have the dilemma about whether to go out and do some novice tests to try and qualify for the Area Festivals as well. That means getting out a few times between now and the end of July to get three scores above 62%. And I was only just starting to remember where I was going in the Prelim tests!

Rupert is having a well-earned week off next week when I go to Glastonbury. Time for us both to let our hair down! When I get back, I’ll need to have a plan of action about what we do next. It just goes to show that a few positive experiences can really help boost your confidence, as I am starting to think ahead to the next goal.

One other thing on the priority list between now and then is to sort out his mane, as it was a flipping nightmare to plait!


The value of volunteering

I’m too busy. I don’t have the right skills or knowledge. I won’t know anyone. These are just some of the reasons why you might decide against volunteering. But even the smallest amount of support can make a huge difference to organisations which rely on volunteers to help them.

In the past I have helped out on school and local community centre committees but more recently I have joined British Dressage’s Eastern Region as the marketing representative. This was an ideal opportunity to combine my skills with my passion, and to get to know more people with a love of dressage in the region. I was worried about the time commitment and how I would balance that with managing my own business, but I was reassured that any time I could give would be gratefully received.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of British Dressage, like so many other equestrian disciplines. Each of the regional committees are run by volunteers and┬ácompetitions simply wouldn’t be able to run without the┬áscorers, stewards, runners, writers and many other supporters who give their time for the love of the sport.

Giving something back to a cause you are passionate about is a great feeling but there are all sorts of other benefits to volunteering. For example, having written for a judge at a competition, I gained a valuable insight into what the judge is looking for and how to ride tests more strategically to gain maximum points. There is so much you can learn from the people around you, so it’s a chance to improve your own knowledge and riding.

As part of National Volunteers’ Week, we are celebrating the vital contribution that volunteers make to British Dressage. You can find out more by visiting the Eastern Region’s Facebook page.