EQ Life Masthead - 2019
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Horses for courses - so true!

By Sarah Joyce
Never has the phrase “horses for courses” seem so true. Today LH Albert and I went to our first official dressage competition that was held at the Equex Centre in Wagga Wagga. As I come from a showjumping background I had no real idea of what competing at a dressage competition entailed. Thankfully with the help of some friends I was soon on the right track of obtaining a horse number and official dressage card, which would allow us to compete in official classes. The next step was to actually get my dressage saddle fixed as one of the girth points had broken off while I was riding at home. So off to the local Riverina Saddlery I went. Saddle. Check. Next was to get a number holder as the NSW dressage number I was assigned was 4 digits and the only holder I had was for 3 digits. So on eBay I went. I found a saddle blanket with a 4 digit number holder attached that had just been listed the night before , so I sent a private message with a buy it now offer hoping she would accept and be able to post within the week so it would arrive before the competition. The seller replied with a yes and the saddle blanket with number holder was on its way. I also needed gloves and a dressage whip, so off to Horseland I went to spend some more money. All the while as I was slowly organising my gear and equipment for the day, as well as trying to remember my tests and ensure that Albert was working nicely through each of his paces. Since moving Albert up to Wagga I have found that with consistent riding and routine rugging and feeding Barastoc Competitor, the bond that we are beginning to share is something special. The soft whinnies he gives as he sees my little blue car pull up to his gate brightens my day. 
At the agistment property in Wagga Wagga
Now many of you would have seen Albert and I about at the showjumping competitions out in the smaller heights having some fun. While out at competitions Albert would be complimented on his paces and movement rather than his ability to jump. Because of this mum and dad have always said that I should enter a dressage competition just to see how it would go. Well this morning we drove into the Equex Centre full of nerves and excitement about what the day ahead would bring. First job for the day was to go to the office and hopefully grab a bag of jodhpurs that one of the organising ladies had put together for me. This is because while I was rushing around all week to make sure Albi had all the right gear I forgot to check my own gear and when I finally did the night before I realised that by mistake, I had packed my sister Tiffany’s white jods and not my own. Stressed is not a strong enough word to describe the shear horror I felt at the thought of not being able to compete because I didn’t have the right jodhpurs. Calling mum in distress it was her that suggested I call the organisers to see what they could propose. Thankfully one of the ladies said she had a bag full that she would go through and look for my size, and guaranteeing me she would have something.
LH Albert tied up
LH Albert tied to the float
As I collected the bag I had all fingers and toes crossed hoping that something would fit. Back in the float I see there is a white pair that I liked the look of and grabbed them first. Hoooraayyyyyy! They fitted! Phew. I thought to myself, today is going to be a good day. Next was to plait Albi’s forelock and saddle him up to go warm up before our first test. Albert is what I like to call a “dude,” nothing fazes or worries him at all.
here we go with new saddle blanket and number holder ebay special
Ready to go with eBay special
Going over to the warm up ring other horses were being worked down heavily before their tests, but of course Albert just ambles in and works nicely as if we were just at home. So next we go over to the gear check and into the area where the arenas are. My first test was an official Preliminary 1.1 test. I could not help myself but to smile as he worked through the test, he felt soft and supple and did everything that was asked of him. I was pleased with our first attempt and know what areas I need to work on to improve for next time.  The next test was the unrestricted competition doing the Preliminary 1.2 test. Albert felt brilliant throughout the test with three good quality paces. I could not have been happier with his efforts. Albert deserved his sponge down and hard feed as a treat for his tremendous efforts. Once he was cooled down and had all his plaits taken out it was off to the scoring tent to see what the judges had thought of our tests.
sarah at the event
Strutting our stuff
I can say I was so pleased with Albert’s and my first attempt that whatever scores we were given was an added bonus. When the scores came out and had Albert and I were sitting as the winners for both of the tests I can honestly say I felt overwhelmed. I rang my dad, mum and my sister to share my delight.
sarah winner
sponge down
Time for a sponge down
Finally I have found what Albert does well at. He was scored consistently by both judges with similar comments. The smile will not be wiped off for a long while I can tell you, the joy of feeling a horse excel in their chosen discipline is something else. I was so pleased with Albert and so pleased with myself to have been able to accomplish such an achievement toady. Thanks must go out to Harry for driving Albert and I to the competition, to Belinda who helped me through my tests, to Ros and Maree at Equex for finding me jodhpurs, to my forever supporting parents whom without none of this would be possible and finally to Albert, today I found Albert’s niche.
kiss of thanks
Kiss of success
LH Albert is a dressage champion. We may never win again but this day, this moment, I will remember forever and it’s times like these that keep us riders trying again and again. Sometimes it is just the cherry on top that seals the deal. I am going to try our hand in dressage again in a few weeks so see if it was a once pot luck prize. Bye for now. 
Sarah Joyce. (Team Joyce)
Thank you to my sponsors Barastoc, Horseland, The Joint Formula & Boutique Equestrian Apparel
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