Have you ever seen such a trashed rug!

Stressage! Who’d have thought I’d be participating in stressage again, however, for good practice and side saddle points… we entered our second ever prelim test side saddle (again!) It was a seriously stressful morning trying to get Gerry ready, I was just about set to give up and not go. He still hasn’t settled at the new yard (we’ve been there 4 months I’m not sure I should even still be calling it new) and although the majority of days are now good days, we still have some very, very, bad ones. Turns out, dressage day was a bad day! Gerry was thrashing around while tied up, knocked me off the plaiting step numerous times, the whites of his eyes popping out his head. I took him into the school half way through plaiting and walked him round for a few minutes to settle him, which seemed to work. We finally managed to get his plaits finished and I jumped on to warm him up before we headed to the venue. Thankfully it was just up the road, about 5 minutes by trailer and its great being able to warm up at home and travel tacked up. He’s such a funny beastie because as soon as I’m on his back he calms right down and behaves, he’s never put a hoof out of place when ive been on his back. Its as if you need to set him to work and he can cope with that, or he appreciates I am the boss when I’m riding. Off in the trailer we went, arrived, popped off the box, bridle on and off we went for a walk, trot and canter round before heading into the arena to do our test. The intro’s had finished and I was first on in the prelim section so the warm up area was nice and quiet. Gerry was feeling great in the side saddle and having only practiced once the night before I wasn’t feeling overly confident, especially after his antics that morning. You could certainly never say he didn’t know when he was in the ring, its like a little switch flicks and he goes “Ok, I know what to do here” Gerry absolutely nailed the test, I had a couple of wobbles and let him canter at one point where I shouldn’t have and also nearly missed a turn, but he was SUCH a good boy and the mornings stress *almost* felt worth it. Turned out, we got a score of 70% and came 2nd! I really didn’t expect that and really was delighted, considering we won the class last time and came 2nd with an awesome score this time… I’m thinking maybe we should always do dressage in side saddle! It was a beautiful day and Gerry got to spend a few hours naked when we got home to relax.

Side saddle dressage, P15, 70%

When you try get a nice photo with your horse..

With this milder weather and the fact its almost March (how did that happen!) I’m hopeful that the horses will start living out at nights again soon and Gerry can return to the old yard. I’m really missing the great facilities and he is definitely missing something, if not everything about it, I really hope he settles back in and returns to his normal Gerry-self when we finally get back over there. I just don’t know what it is about this temporary yard that he hates so much. Its been a really tough winter with him, I will be so glad to see the back of it.

So many plans in the pipeline for the year, so much I would like to do and achieve! The biggest plan for the year is probably the side saddle nationals. They are held in Buckingham in August. So the week off work has been booked and I will start forging some plans shortly. Ten hour drive, over night stops and a whole 7 days with my horse is not something I’ve done before! It’s sure to be an experience and a half, and will hopefully be great fun too. I would really like to pop round a BE80 this year as well. Gerry evented in his past life and did so to quite a high level, I did a spot of eventing when I was 16 and was quite successful, but lost confidence after my riding accidents and I think you just do lose a bit of confidence as you get older! I think it would be good to get out and round a cross country course at least once this year, Gerry would probably be delighted. There are a few options for us all within a couple of hours drive, so I’ll see whats coming up and what fits in the diary then we can start working towards that. Lots of showing on the cards, as per my usual! Hopefully fit in some working hunters and do a lot more side saddle this year. I hadn’t realised before but the side saddle association offers a performance points awards scheme, where you can gain points for competing in your side saddle in non-standard side saddle classes. We gained our first points at dressage this month, and hopefully there are lots more to be gained throughout the year!

We got delivery of our new Honeychop wheelbarrow this month! Thanks Honeychop! Mine broke at Blair (In August!!) and ive been using an industrial, heavy and difficult to tip one at the yard ever since. So I’m really grateful to team Honeychop for organising a branded one! I am so grateful to the team for all of their hard work and continued support, Honeychop really is such a fantastic company producing such high quality, versatile and affordable chaff for your animals. Its not until you see the work that goes into producing every single bag of chaff that you realise just how great the company is! The team are fantastic too, always on hand to answer any questions about the products and how to feed them. Give them a call if you have anything to ask!

First show of the season this weekend, Ive entered the riding horse, veteran and riding club horse classes. I think ill do the first class astride as a warm up, and do the veteran and riding club horse in my side saddle. I’m really going to bust a gut this year practising, I’m determined to improve and make the side saddle nationals worthwhile for us!

Until next month,

Grace and Gerry x

Side saddle dressage, P15, 70%