Another exciting month for Cyden Dressage and myself. Having spent most of the winter training with Plex and Dude, I decided to give the horses a couple of outings before the Nationals. On the first day both of them were a little fresh and excited but still produced some good work and on the second day, both horses did two lovely tests each to both win all four classes with some brilliant percentages at Frys. Again, I took both of them to Sheepgate on 15th April for the last outing before the Nationals and came home with four first placings and a good run through the test I am doing at the Nationals on Plex.
I have also just been approached, from a lady who has bought a 16 hands, 4 year old gelding by Dimaggio x Furst Heinrich to train and compete him this year, so I am aiming towards the four year old classes in May and June. He has a fantastic temperament and a very trainable attitude to his work so looking forward to the future with him.
Last month we ran our One Day Coaching Programme, Inspiring Minds Equestrian Coaching and I think I can say it was one of the most moving coaching days David and I have yet run. The one day programme involves the morning session of theory and investigates into why we suffer from nerves. What is it that you would like to improve from the course and the reasons behind we can be negative towards ourselves and others. The afternoon session then involves giving everyone on the course some techniques that they can use to control and remove those fears, anxiety and worries. Once these are all practised inside we then take the course outside to the arena. On this particular day we had a lady who was very nervous about getting on board her horse due to past bucking and cold back problems. David removed all the adrenaline from her, by using the techniques and then allowed the horse to smell and reintroduce himself to her. This was where not only the lady was shocked but we were too, what had been described as a very nasty in the stable, not pleasant to tack up or deal with horse was suddenly very at one with the lady and not at all showing any of these traits. Having successfully and very easily got on board and walk around the arena, with the rest of the clients on the programme watching, the lady herself described it as this really is something at the start of the day I had said to myself, “ you’d have to be miracle workers to even get me on board”! And there she was on board, perfectly happy and not at all worried or anxious.
In a later issue of Equestrian Life we will be doing a full article on our one day programme and will share with you some of these fantastic techniques including being left at the end of the day with a “magic button”! For more information on these courses see our website www.inspiringmindsequestrian.com
Having written about the scales of training in last month’s edition of Equestrian Life, I felt this month I would like to share with you a few ways in which you can get more involved in Dressage and where I started. I first started riding at the age of three on a little grey pony called Crystal, she was my elder brother and sister’s first pony too, having attended my first pony club camp at the age of four I was well hooked on riding and attended many PC rallies and training days. Then was the time when my legs were getting a little long for my 11’2 so I was bought my second pony, Harvey. Well, many people that know me will remember Harvey as the Show Pony that I tried to make jump! In one rally at camp I fell off him 28 times, and yes that 28 times in one rally. Let’s just say he went rather high every time he jumped and I popped out the side door or he put in a nasty little stop often with me landing on the fence in a heap. After two very long years with him, I had again grown too big and moved onto my 14’1 pony, Molly (Black Velvet). This was a rather large leap from a showing pony to one that I was hoping to have a go at eventing and the pony teams. Molly was a rather difficult pony to say the least and numerous times in the dressage warm up area, I could be seen with two hours to go before my test warming her up, as she was a rather energetic and forward thinking pony! But with perseverance and help from Tracey and Ian Woodhead (and Kate Lewis riding her when my arms had given up!) I got there, starting with local one- day-events, showjumping and hunter trials after a couple of years of this, I moved onto the FEI Pony Trials and British Eventing. In my first year of ponies, I very clearly remember arriving at the first pony trial of the season Lincoln and wanting to turn round and go back home when I saw in the warm up lots of very stunning, what looked like easy to ride, ponies. However after some rescue remedy and dad telling me to get on with it, I completed my test and moved on to the bit she enjoyed the jumping, she was very brave and often seen bouncing through two fences meant for a stride! This is where I quickly learnt that the lovely ponies in the dressage warm up, were not always the ones that finished in the top ten and had problems on the cross country. Anyway a top ten placing at Lincoln Pony Trial and again at Bradwell pony trail resulted in my selection to the final pony trials at Sansaw Park, Cheshire later in the year. With everything (apart from high dressage score!) going well it was the second to last fence and due tiredness Molly caught to top of the table and sent me flying over her head and her bridle came off, all I remember saying to the jump judge was please don’t class that as a fall I was over the fence!!!! Anyway the following year was more successful with a top ten placing Sansaw Park in the final trail and longlist selection onto the pony squad.
I then again had to make the move onto horses and fell in love with Marvin (Ermin Street) over the stable door having been at a three day competition with my brother. Marvin was only young but to ride felt amazing, he wasn’t strong to ride in dressage and seemed like a dream compared to molly. It was at this point that my love of dressage started to develop. I continued to event and do Pony Club one day events but also got more involved with the Pony Club dressage too. Marvin was always placed in the top ten after dressage at every Pre Novice, Novice and Intermediate competition that he did with me, in 2001 we won the CCIJ* Junior Regional Championships at Aldon. Due to university and other commitments, I was slowly having the reduce the amount of training I was able to do and it was then when I started to really suffer with nerves at competitions and gradually after Weston Park CCI** decided that, nerves SJ were too much and wanted to push on with gaining my university degree so my brother took over the ride on Marvin.
After a few years out of competing, I decided to do some unaffiliated dressage competitions which I thoroughly enjoyed so then went on and started doing British Dressage competitions and it was here where the bug started to bite. I loved the atmosphere at British Dressage competitions and I didn’t feel nerve or sick! I started riding and schooling my brother’s horses on the flat and then competing them, I then noticed in the British dressage magazine information on Under 25’s. At the time I thought fantastic a competition for Under 25s, so off I went in my “cream” joddies, coloured stock to the Under 25 Dressage Championships at Sheepgate with Marvin and my brothers two horses. I did 18 tests in 3 days and came away with many rosettes, including qualifying my little eventer in the Young Rider Derby, where you ride a test on your horse and then the others in the final also ride a test on him. That was it I was hooked.
Family friends (Jess and Fiona) introduced me to BYRDS, British Dressage Young Rider Scheme that run lots of training, competitions and events for under 25s. Everyone was so friendly and made me feel really welcome with lots of team events and a chance to represent the Northern Region and many competitions both in this country and in Ireland. Having started with Marvin competing in these competitions and rallies, my father’s love of eventing still existed and we bought a horse that he hoped at the time, Id start at the bottom with Intro’s and Prenovices eventing and then continue, however this never really took hold. Having connections in Germany we bought, Plex (Cyden Perplex) a very naughty 6 year old that was virtually untouched due to being “difficult to train” were the German words for him! After a few falls and disagreements we came out the other side and started competing him within BYRDS. It was here I met Becky and Hannah Moody as they were the trainers and running the northern BYRDS at the time, fantastic sisters whose enthusiasm was always there to help everyone have fun and enjoy being a member. I attended training days, camps, and competitions all involved in teams with other local northern riders and met many new friends. In my first year as BYRDS member I went to Necarne, Ireland representing the Northern Region and cam runner up in the Novice section with Plex. The following year we were placed at the BYRDS Home international at Mysercough.
I guess you can say the rest is history; Plex never did get to go flat out round a cross country course however I don’t think he is too worried about that as he’s not the bravest of horses but does still love a good canter. Once I became an “OAP” to BYRDS (over 25) I joined the senior Northern region teams and again they offer camps, training days both with and without your horse, and many team competitions.
It wasn’t until a volunteers position within British Dressage was advertised that I applied for it and after interview was offered the position of Members Representative on the Northern Region British Dressage committee that I realised how much hard work all the venues in our area and the committee put in to make sure that all areas of the region have training and events to suit all levels and encourage more members to join.
British Dressage Northern region have just launched a brand new competition open to unaffiliated riders called the Northern Region Dressage Challenge with a Championship to qualify for, Inspiring Minds Equestrian Coaching are actually sponsoring the event so please see
For more information on how to get involved in this competition too.
So I think the main thing you can take from this is there are many different ways to get involved with dressage in your area, be it at unaffiliated local shows or affiliated British Dressage competitions, there is even the chance to be involved on our volunteer’s database at British Dressage without owning or competing a horse yourself. This is the best way to learn and get involved within dressage in the local areas please do not hesitate to contact me for more information. Email [email protected] or see my website www.cydendressage.com
Look forward to reporting from the nationals in next month’s column.