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Dressage Festival Wrap Up

Werribee weather definitely lived up to its reputation for the 2013 Dressage Festival, minus maybe the thunder and lightening we had in 2011… With stinking hot weather on the Tuesday and Wednesday to wind and rain on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and a return to hot weather on Sunday we really did need everything from jumpers, jackets and brollies to tshirts, shorts, thongs and sunscreen!

 Friday, team test

from 34degrees on Tuesday to 17 degrees on Friday!

I arrived at Werribee late on Tuesday with Dudley and set up the caravan ready for a massive week. Now our little caravan was meant to have two beds but ended up being one bed and the other side full of a fridge, saddle, bags etc.

Dudley is a rather large chestnut gelding who we found 3 weeks ago as a possible horse for me to have in Australia. He has a heart of gold and super temperament, but unfortunately had only done novice level until we found him and the Grade 4 para events are from medium level to PSG. So Dudley came down to Werribee to have a look around and get used to the atmosphere and possibly compete if I decided he was up to it.

On Wednesday morning Fiona Anderson brought down her gorgeous boy Sebastian for me. I am incredibly grateful to Fiona for lending me Sebastian, so that I was able to compete in the CPEDI3* Para-equestrian events at the DF, as it otherwise wouldn’t have been possible as my good horse that I am aiming for WEG on is currently in Holland.

 Good luck cuddles the night before!

Good luck cuddles the night before!

Thursday saw the beginning of competition for the Para riders with the trot up in the afternoon. Training for the Para riders was from 9-12 in the morning and as I had two horses to ride and have lessons on it was quite busy. It ended up being slightly more frantic than I had intended as I realized at 8:30 that the key to my tackbox was on the car keys that mum had lent to one of the overseas stewards…. Thankfully at 9:15 he drove in the gate and I was just able to make my 9:30 lesson with on Dudley with Bjarne. After one super lesson it was a quick change of horse and then another lesson Sebastian with Charlotte Pederson. A massive thankyou to Charlotte for all her help in the week leading up to the DF and also for helping me warm up for each of my tests.

Training Wednesday 

After my two rides I had to plait both horses and have initial horse inspections done by the trot up at 3pm, another race against time, but with Fiona’s help we made it! Both horses flew through the trot up, except for a minor hiccup when Sebastian got a fright from someone putting up their umbrella! Thanks to Michael Baker for trotting up both horses for me!

Friday’s competition started bright and early with my first test at 8:18 on Sebastian and then as I had decided to have a go with Dudley in the team test he was on at 9:54. A massive thank you to Sebastian’s owner who left home at 4am to get to Werribee in time to help me get both horses ready!!!  I couldn’t have been happier with how they both went, Sebastian went round and did a calm, super accurate test to finish in 2nd place which I was absolutely thrilled with. Dudley also tried his heart out and did his best to do whatever he thought I was asking him to do so I couldn’t have asked any more from either of them. I came out of both tests with a massive smile on my face. A great way to spend my birthday!!

Saturday was the individual championship test. Sebastian tried his heart our for me, but as he has only just started learning changes we had a few errors in the counter canter and simple changes as he thought he was meant to be doing a change. We still finished in second place with a score that was good enough to help us get through to the freestyle. Thanks to Sidney Hoffman who came down to Werribee at the crack of dawn to groom for me!! I had decided not to start Dudley in this test as he had tried his best on Thursday, but the championship test is a big step up and I didn’t want to put too much pressure on him.

 Warm up championship test

warming up for the championship test

On Sunday it was time for the freestyle!!! My favourite test of them all :) Having only had 9 rides on Sebastian before the event, there was no time to figure out music specifically for Sebastian, so we would be dancing to my mare Kiara’s old freestyle music. I had an absolute ball riding the freestyle even though we had a few oopsy moments because of the flags above our heads!! I definitely put my improvisation skills to the test and we again finished in second place. Most importantly though I had an awesome time riding the freestyle.

Warm up Freestyle

warming up for the Freestyle 

There are many people I’d like to thank for making it possible for me to compete at the Dressage Festival. However most importantly would have to be Fiona Anderson for allowing me to rider her boy Sebastian. Dressage can’t survive without the amazing people like Fiona who allow us to ride their horses. There were at least 5 Australian riders plus the Hong Kong riders who were riding borrowed horses at the DF so thank you to all these amazing people who trust us with your beautiful horses. Also a massive thankyou to 4Cyte Equine who sponsor Fiona and Sebastian.

 My two boys -)

my two boys :)

I would also like to thank the Dressage Victoria committee for including the CPEDI3* at the Dressage Festival. Also to the Stewards and Judges who worked tirelessly all weekend to make the event possible. Without you this event would never happen. I also have to thank mum, Greg and my whole family for their ongoing support. While mum and Greg were too busy stewarding to help as chief grooms, I can’t thank them enough for their support! 

On the Tuesday following I was fortunate enough to have a lesson with Stephen Clarke, an international judge from Great Britain, who was over here to judge at the DF and run a judges clinic following it. The focus of my lesson on Dudley was making sure that he was responsive to my aids and ensuring he was listening to my outside controlling aids. Probably the most important message I got from the lesson was that I was heading in the right direction with him and now is the time to consolidate the basics. Also that once Dudley is really strong in these he will easily be able to progress through the grades.

December for me will be pretty busy, Kiara is expecting her first foal, to Quando Quando and I also have a fair bit of Uni work to do as well as real work. Next on the completion schedule is likely to be the next selection event at Boneo in January next year!

Until then I hope everyone has an amazing Christmas!!

Nicole.

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