Our holiday seems like an awful long time ago now, but it was just what the doctor ordered for both me and Gary. It is quite full on when we are in our competing season, as there always seems to be something going on, so I think it is quite important to have a break every now and again to re focus. I now feel ready for the challenges ahead and am getting really excited about them.

The Elementary Area Championships were really enjoyable as it was such a beautiful day. Unfortunately my time for the warm up class was after the championship class, which was a shame as Ollie is generally better in the second test. He warmed up really well, and felt amazing as we entered the arena, but once I started my test he began enjoying himself a little too much. His ears were pricked and he was desperately looking for something to spook at, so he used the flowers as an excuse. Whilst it made me smile to know that he was having fun, it was a bit frustrating to lose several marks at the beginning. He soon settled down though and we finished in second with 68%, which means we have qualified for the Winter Championships next year. Hoorah! The second test was better than the first and despite making a few major mistakes we won the class with 72%. I was so chuffed as the classes were huge and it gives me enormous satisfaction winning able bodied classes.

I am also trying out a new saddle at the moment and it has completely changed his way of going. If you think he moved well before, that is nothing to how he moves now! I don’t know why I keep making life harder for myself, as soon as I get to grips with his movement we change something and I have to start all over again, but I suppose that is what dressage is all about. This saddle is a little like riding bare back, so it really does take some time to get used to, but the amount of movement in his shoulders and back has increased dramatically. I have always had a problem with him getting short in the neck and I now realise this was mainly down to an ill fitting saddle. Since I have been using the new saddle I haven’t lost a single mark for this problem, so another reason why it is exciting times ahead!

We have also competed in a couple of music classes. I absolutely love my music so it gives me a real buzz doing these classes and I seem to find it easy to listen and keep in time with the music, Thank Goodness! The first class was elementary and I thought it went well, but you can imagine my reaction when I saw that we had won with 72% and the next score down was 62%. WOW! The next class was Medium with a different judge, but we managed to do it again and win the class with 70%, which means we have qualified for the Regionals at both levels. If only I had changed my saddle 6 months ago…