I've been so busy I haven't really had a chance to tell you about the dressage on Sunday.
The first thing was, the weather was beautiful. I was dreading doing it in the rain (again) so was thrilled to see clear skies and realise there was no wind. Perfect.
I booted up The Boy, ditto Zak, and we set off. We only had to get to Derby College, which took about 40 minutes. We unloaded the horses and tied them to the lorry. It soon became obvious how things worked. Instead of a warm-up arena and a competition arena separately, there was just one enormous arena, divided into two. One side was for warming up and one side was for doing the test. Brilliant.
We couldn't find a secretary or anyone to sign in with, it was all a bit chaotic really. I decided to tack Barnaby up as I was on at 10.15 and wanted to get as much warming up time as possible. I rode down to the arena with no problems about leaving Zak. There was a steward down there who explained where the secretary (his wife) was. (In a classroom up the hill). He said just to do my test and go and see her afterwards. You pay on the day here, you see, not in advance.
At this stage, the judge was in her car but there was no writer, so I decided to crack on and warm up. To my astonishment and joy, Barnaby was really well behaved. He still had energy, but was quite willing to be schooled, and could hear Zak whinnying for him but wasn't bothered. I had to go carefully as there was a young woman on a grey mare who looked extremely nervous. I didn't want to go whizzing past her and upset her horse, so I just kept things nice and steady.
In the end Barnaby was so calm I could stand talking to Mr O and Barnaby just stood there. It was lovely to think I was going to actually do a dressage test on my own horse.
Soon the first girl went in, and I was second, so I decided to keep Barnaby moving until it was our turn to go in. Before I knew it, the girl had finished and came out, and we were waved in.
I set off in trot. For those of you who don't know, there are lots of letters around the arena and the test says things like, 'Walk at A, trot at B' etc. You have to be accurate and your horse has to go well, in a good position, what we call an 'outline'.
You always enter at A, and as I approached it, I expected the judge to beep her horn so I could start, but she didn't so I went sailing past. I actually went past three times and went back to walk before she beeped the horn. I stayed very calm, as I never let this phase me now, went sailing round and entered at A.
Mr O called the test, but actually I knew it anyway. It always pays to learn it in case you can't get a caller (or aren't allowed) or it's so windy you can't hear them anyway. It just helps you not to get flustered if you know what you should be doing at every stage.
Barnaby was really listening to me and was extremely well behaved and obedient. I was thrilled when I finally halted, and saluted the judge. I couldn't have asked for more at this stage.
We left the arena and I gave Barnaby a big pat.
We had quite a while to wait before Mr O's turn, but the horses stood contentedly eating their haynets. We went up to the secretary's area to introduce ourselves and to pay.
Then Mr O tacked Zak up and went down to warm up. Barnaby did want to go with him, so I untied him and led him along. We came to a big patch of grass, where he decided he'd rather eat than follow Zak, which was fabulous. He looked as if to say, "I know where he is, I'm not blind!" and carried on eating. I was delighted. The only drawback was that I couldn't go down to call the test for Mr O, but fortunately he remembered it. (Actually he said his mind went blank twice but he remembered in the nick of time!) Zak looked rather beautiful, actually, I was quite surprised myself.
Eventually the results were put up and we were disappointed to find we were 9th (me) and 10th (Mr O) out of 12, which isn't brilliant. I have to say, I do disagree with a couple of comments on my sheet, but there we are, can't be helped. It's a different test next time, one I've never done on Barnaby, so we'll see.
Really I didn't want the results to take the shine off the occasion, because I am delighted with how Barnaby behaved. At least it means I can do some dressage and next year we should be able to do some showing, which is all I ask.
So all in all I thoroughly enjoyed it. And now, of course, I want to go again in December, but I dare say we'll have snow by then.
I do love Barnaby. He is really everything I've ever wanted in a horse. Thankyou, my man, the boy done good.