Lauren Dallison - Eventing
So, June finally saw the comeback of Donald and we went to our first competition in what seemed like ages. It was mid GCSE’s, which luckily are now over. I have never been so excited to compete, despite the 3.30 am start, especially as it was our first ever pure dressage competition. With exams and Donald being out of action we were feeling somewhat unprepared for the two dressage tests. Donald warmed up, and performed two of his best dressage tests to date. In the warm up class, Donald posted an amazing score of 73.85% (26.15 for the eventers out there!) to lead until the final rider, were we were dropped to a very close second- which I am still thrilled with, considering our very low expectations. In the second, and team test, Donald definitely showed his lack of fitness, strength and stamina, yet his class, and incredibly willing attitude shone through to again impress the judges and produce another incredible test for 73.7% (26.3). In a section, full of very classy and experienced dressage horses, I was very happy with 4th place, after remaining in the top 3 for the majority class. This result gained the Dauntsey’s school team 2nd place, and a qualification for the NSEA National Championships in October.
Donald then had a few days of hacking to relax, as he had only been in proper work approximately a week at this point! We scheduled a vet, physio and farrier visit to ensure all was well before we start jumping - as you can probably tell, I am maybe the most cautious and paranoid person around. We had two visits from Megan King, our physio who on her first visit recognised Donald’s ‘low flight path’ as he moves, relating to weakness behind and also, she found some tightness behind his saddle which she felt is an indicator for compensation from weakness in the hind end. We were recommended to start raised pole work, hill work, and exercise/hacking with a tail bandage around his hind end- much like resistance band training to build strength and reduce the chance of the lameness resurfacing. We spent a further two weeks following this programme, and we are already noticing a difference in Donald’s top-line and muscling. We then had our amazing farrier Phil Perryman to sort his feet, and analyse his movement and balance- unexpectedly (in a good way!) the wearing of his shoes was exactly equal, which showed he hasn’t been favouring a leg. Also, a slow-motion camera filmed Donald’s movement, highlighting that he was incredibly straight and even- something he wouldn’t be if he was again, favouring a leg. All bases covered, we felt confident that he was ready for our first jump in over 2 months. Despite the heat wave, he was very excited to say the least! The jumps were tiny and it was a short session as there was no need to push him fast, but we both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Donald had a second visit from Megan to check up on his progress, which is definitely moving in the right direction. His back was much looser, with just a bit of tightness in his shoulders and hamstrings as a result of changing his exercise programme. Overall, Megan noticed a big difference in his movement, as he was more fluid, and straight; the pole work has obviously helped. We feel like we are getting there at last.
June also saw the opening of the new C-T Scanner, with William Fox-Pitt which unfortunately I was unable to attend. I was really gutted, as it was something I was really looking forward to- however, exams and a busy schedule didn’t allow it. Luckily, Jess Parsons filmed it, so I was lucky enough to see the opening!
Recently we had our first proper jumping schooling session in the field, and despite the small jumps again, Donald surprised me as he completely sorted himself out at every fence, and felt so much more confident again- and very happy with himself as he squealed his way around the field! At the weekend we have been selected for the Pony Club Area Dressage Intermediate team to represent Avon Vale Pony Club and to try and qualify for the Championships in August.
Until next time,