As many of my riders will know, I personally like training for the sake of training and I am not particularly competitive. I much rather see my riders go out and do well, it’s great to see them try their best, look after their horses in a stressful environment and develop their horsemanship that way.
Having said that, I do love a bit of a challenge too so a show now and then keeps me focused on the quality of the teaching and level of my own riding. The key in incorporating shows into training is to choose the right ones, the ones that will complement the work we do at home and allow the horses and riders to learn rather than be over faced or under challenged.
There are fair amount of very good venues in our area (South East) so as a result, there are also many small, local shows as well as bigger events at larger competition centres to choose from.
For training dressage at grassroots level, I personally like the well run unaffiliated shows which often have British Dressage judges involved. This gives the riders a good experience of the atmosphere and quality of the judging (useful comments that are both fair and encouraging). They are much more affordable than affiliated shows and provide a great preparation ground before going affiliated 🙂
We went for Bury Farm dressage this month and it was a fantastic education experience with Introductory tests being run in the centre’s International arena and Preliminary tests in quite busy indoor next to one of the warm ups.
Mairi and Caitlin did their first larger dressage show on Gilly and despite some first-time nerves they both had a great time. Mairi’s score qualified her for Trailblazers 2nd round so we are planning to give it a go on the 3rd of April 🙂
Watching the riders perform without any help or instruction is, I find, a great teaching tool as it gives me ideas on where we need to put more work into and how to plan the training so it creates a thinking and confident rider and horse.
I took young Una for her owner, Kelly, and we did survive some “oh my god how big and scary is this arena” moments 😉 It was a superb experience for her and I look forward to taking her out again and in the meantime we shall work at home on staying relaxed and attentive in new environment.
How do you choose the shows to go to? Do you go for local shows or pick and mix to find the best educational experiences for your horse(s)?
Do you run a box /lorry hire or know of someone who does? We are seeking local transport options to add to our existing one to be able to take several riders at a time to schooling sessions at different venues and shows. If you are based near Northolt, West London, give us a shout! firstname.lastname@example.org