Monday, 27 June 2011

Dressage in the Heat!

On Saturday, it was jumping in the rain. On Sunday, it was dressage in the heat -just shows how unpredictable British weather can be! Our test was at 9:35 am and already by that time I was melting in my medium weight wool navy habit. I was glad that I didn't have my heavy weight black habit any more or else I would have been a puddle on the floor. Jackets were waived after but I couldn't have shown without a jacket as I was wearing my pink show shirt underneath my habit!!

I decided not to jump Hattie as part of the warm up in my friend's school but instead go straight to the show and warm up in the semi cool indoor school there. We did lots of walking and circles to help loosen her up, transitions and cantering to wake Hattie up and she went really well!

Call me strange, but I find it also helps if I talk to Hattie before a show and then before a class and tell her what we need to do, how were going to do it and if we're feeling cocky, that we want to win, then she always does it. If I forget to talk to her, then we always do poorly so now I've gotten into the habit of talking to Hattie before we school at home what we need to do, our goals and why, etc and we always do better.

I'm not professing to be some sort of horse whisperer and I'm not really into New Age Horsemanship (although some horses probably need it so it has it's place) but it just seems more than coincidence that we do crap when no talking happens and then win or do very well when I do talk to Hattie so now I always do it and so far, so good. Hattie seems to like being spoken to as well as her eyes close and she drifts off - either that or she finds me boring, lol.

Maybe Hattie is just some weird horse that understands the English language or maybe it's good for my brain to put me in the "zone" with riding but talking to each works for both of us! It's a natural aid and beats whips and spurs so why not?!

Hattie before our class waiting to go in...

Any ways, I spoke to Hattie before we schooled and before our class (and I told her that we want to win today as there was some stiff competition from some seriously nice moving horses) and guess what? We won!! 65.22%, probably the highest score in stressage we've ever had!!

Hattie was brilliant today and most of our marks were 6's, 7's and 8's. We got our only 5 as our center line at the end was wobbly, Hattie slipped on some worn away arena surface which wasn't really her fault. The judge wrote "A nice change to see a side saddle test." but said "Be careful not to use your voice as this is not allowed." All I did really was tell Hattie that she was a good girl as she was, well, being good during the entire test but didn't think I was speaking very loudly. I stand by my choice of praising her but will have to remember to whisper it next time, Hattie has good hearing any ways.

Here is the video of our test:

We got our red rosette and won won a voucher for free entry to the next show and a dressage lesson with respected dressage trainer and rider, Danielle Steed (she was also the judge at the show today!) at her barn. The only problem with that is that is her barn is about 12 miles away and since I have no transport and it's too far to hack, it's going to be a bit difficult for me to partake of my prize. I'm going to call her and ask, if I pay her fuel and time, if she would be able to come out to me. Hopefully, she will say yes! :)

Lesson here? Talk to your horse! :)


  1. They understand a lot more language than we give them credit for! But I think a lot of it is your own visualization.

    You guys look awesome! Congratulations!


  2. Beautiful! Hattie is definitely more relaxed than in your previous rides. Despite all the frustration, you both have made some real progress.

  3. Congrats!!!! That's fantastic!! No pics of you with your red ribbon?

    I'm sure horses know more than we give them credit for. Brigit knows exactly what the word trot & canter & whoa means. I'm sure they like to be talked to and I'll be it helps us too.

  4. Awesome work!
    I was always told to talk to Molly - its not so much the language as getting the clear image in your own mind of what you want to do & achieve :)

  5. I talk to my horse all the time, I do it to relax or to wakeup, I do it alot so I don't forget what we were going to do XD But I just like to do it. I sing alot too, when we go out in the fields to ride I tend to sing a big part of the way, though I lower my voice when people are around, I know I'm a bit off key sometimes haha.

    I kinda need your opinion again if you don't mind. I'm currently looking at three saddles. one beautiful light oil Elan, it could fit, but it would need flocking to adjust it on the offside withers and the twist.
    there's a LOVELY whippy ( always wanted a whippy) that's in great state and has a very nice fit on my horse ( or at least the tracings I sent ), but it's on a wickham pad and I don't know how I feel about that. I like looking at linnen or leather panels more and it's more expensive too. but I guess I could save up and have the pad replaced by linnen panels in a year or so. then I would have my beautifeul whippy with linnen panels!
    and then there's a smith & mayhew. I don't know anyhting about this saddle yet, the sellers are going to contact me today about the details and the fit ( I sent them the same tracings). I kinda hope it will turnout to be the bst fit ever, as it is cheaper and already has linnen panels.

    just say that s & m works out great, the fit is great, what should I do? I LOVEloveLOVE whippy's and owning one sounds like a dream! and it would be according to my plans to buy a decent saddle for a year or two and then trade up, only now I could keep the saddle and trade up in panels. but the s & m would be alot cheaper and already has the linnen panels I love so much. them again I don't know anything about this brand.... how does it compare to the whippy in terms of quality?

    I hope you can share your opinion. I read your blog almost everyday! your hattie has the same kind of back as my emily so it's great fun to read what you write.
    I have to make up my mind before thursday.
    I have no idea what do do...

    kind regards, lieke

  6. Hi Lieke, all three sound like they could be good possibilities for you and would be a million times better than the Craigslist side saddles.

    I LOVE my Whippy, it probably has to be the best fitting, secure and comfortable side saddle I have ever ridden in. Hattie is happy in it too.

    I wouldn't worry about the Wykham pad as alot of horses seem to like them. The Wykham pad I had on my Champion & Wilton was linen covered over felt so you would not even have to get new panels made but have a saddle cover the existing ones in linen.

    I have only ever seen on Smith & Mayhew and that was only some photos and it had a Champion & Wilton fitting. It had a flat, modern seat, wide pommels and a handkerchief slot on the offside so was probably from the turn of the century.

    I don't know anything about the company but it seems like Mayhew teamed up with Smith for a little while in the late Victorian era. It was a beautiful, well made saddle and one of the good old name makers so if it fits your horse, you won't go wrong with getting a Smith & Mayhew either.

  7. Thanks guys! :) I think having a "conversation" with Hattie definitely puts us in the "zone" so unfortunately, Hattie is going to have to put up with me chattering away to her ;)

    Robin, Hattie seems to like the Whippy, she goes a million times better in it than my C&W or my Manorgrove. She doesn't try to bite me when I put it on (except the girth part but she hates any girth on any saddle) so the saddle definitely doesn't stress her out.

  8. well, I made up my mind, I've got an Elan now! ( or you know, in a week, but it's paid for XD )
    the whippy turned out to be a champion and wilton, but with shipping and girths and stuff it would be waaaayy out of my budget. so I decided on the Elan. it's will probably need some mild correction to the flocking but the points and tree fit, so it should be fine. *yay*

    BTW talking to your horse has been proven to give better results, I can't remember the name of the research but they found that the rythm ,repetition and tone has a very positive effect on the horse's demeanor.
    simply put: they like to hear you talk :D

  9. I think you chose well, Elans are nice saddles. I was going to get one for the Arab I used to have. :)

  10. Wow, that is the best I have seen her move. She looks so much freer than other videos I've seen. I've just had to buy a new dressage saddle. Leroy grew too wide for my Prestige, I didn't realize it was pinching his back, tipping me forward and to the right, although I knew I had a problem sitting properly. I now have a Santa Cruz Dressage saddle on trial. I can't believe how much better he feels in it, and I also don't need to ride with my back brace or tush cushion. It is SO comfy. Well, good job you and Hattie!

  11. Thanks Deb! :) I know, she was really went well on Sunday. It was nice not having to ride in a side saddle that you had to battle against. My C&W used to shoot forward onto her shoulders and my Manorgrove used to drop down on her withers and roll to the left- not fun. My Whippy just sits there with no fancy grip, riser and miracle pads!

    It's amazing how much a saddle (astride and side saddle) affect the horse and rider. Your new dressage saddle sounds great especially since you don't need all your stuff on as well! Where did you get it?

  12. yeah I think i chose well too ;)
    I researched as much as i could and made every effort to be as sure as possible about the fit, the side saddlery in the US ( linda especially) was extremely helpful! I've already contacted several saddlers here and I'm actually waiting for one very close to me to return a call about possible re-flovking or adjusting the flocking. she's the saddler of Coby van Baalen, who's a very well known dressage rider here in the Netherlands and that saddler happens to be working with this tackshop :D they are going to ask her if she knows enough about side saddles to be willing to take a look at it somewhere in the next couple of weeks to either correct it before I ride in it or adjust it a little after having ridden in it a while.
    btw, do you know what flocking they put in the Elan, I'm guessing wool, but I know the older ones have horsehair in them and some of the newer dressage saddle shave types of foam. It would be kinda silly if my saddler opens up the panels, wool at the ready, and horsehair or foam comes falling out XD
    I can't seem to find it anywhere on google, so I thought maybe you knew ;)
    X Lieke