Enter at A, is a phrase as dressage enthusiasts, we’re pretty familiar with. It signals the start of our judged performance. We all also know the reality of getting any horse down the centre line. The time, the money, the tears. The hours and hours and weeks and years it takes us to still get 7 out of 10 for a 20m circle. We are all probably totally nuts, but we keep doing it anyway! In the world we live in today, where social media is something we carry round in our hand, judging, particularly within the equestrian world, is something that is no longer contained within the white boards. I’ve never been a fan of social media, in fact I’d say its something I’ve purposefully shied away from, for fear of being judged! But in light of recent life events and realising that life is too short, here I am embarking on a journey and sharing it with you all…….
It’s early February and I think I’m beginning to see the light at the end of my first Scottish winter. The days are getting longer, with the horses staying out till 5.30pm now. Having moved to Ayrshire from Wiltshire in September it’s been a bit of a culture shock. I’ve learned to like Haggis, love caramel tarts, but I’m still on the fence with Iron Bru!
Having relocated due to my Husbands work, me and the horses have come along for the ride. I’ve never in my life had my own arena and its the same situation here. I’ve managed to compete a horse to 2* eventing from a field and trained a dressage horse for nationals last winter where we finished just outside the top 10. So I’m very much an advocate of, it’s not what you’ve got, but what you do with it.
Dominica had a quiet end to 2018. Having arrived very soon after I moved here in September, she did around 5 weeks of very easy work, before December when the Ayrshire weather turned a whole lot wetter! As this had always been the plan that I had made with her owner Dedi Leech, it was nice that it worked out. Unusual when working with horses, particularly in Ayrshire I’m starting to realise!
She enjoyed a festive holiday throughout December, concentrating on her Christmas pudding physique and processing the information learned in the 5 weeks previous. When my sister visited with her ‘sensible’ horse over Christmas, I did however seize the opportunity to hack through the very quiet village where we live in company. You never quite no how a young horse will react the first time it meets a car on the road and so its something I prefer to do initially with a sensible chaperone, in order to build everyone’s confidence. Whilst I try to avoid going on the roads, in order to access better off road hacking I must pass through the village for a few hundred metres.
Dominica was a total star, leading my sister and her trusty stead past all the scary stuff, through a stream and standing like a rock to do all the gates. I was so proud of her and its a very encouraging sign when a young horse reacts like this to new environments and experiences.
Proper work started in the New Year. The ground had dried out sufficiently for me to be able to have a couple of schooling sessions a week, lasting no more than 20 mins and a couple of more adventurous hacks. For me at this stage its all about showing her the world and helping her gain confidence in herself, as well as learning to trust me. As her breeding would suggest, she does find the basic work fairly straightforward, so there is nothing to gain other than injury risk from schooling her more often.
January saw some big Milestones. Dominica got her first ever set of front shoes. We also had a visit from Claire Morrison from my wonderful sponsor Devoucoux, to fit her a new saddle. Because she is young, it’s important to have her saddle checked regularly as her muscle development is changing all the time. To get in touch with Claire who is the Scottish technical advisor, use this link. https://www.facebook.com/Claire-Morrison-Devoucoux-Technical-Advisor
I also fulfilled one of my New Years resolutions in January. Having spent the last few years relying on the use of other peoples transport, this year I wanted to gain my independence. Although I have a HGV license, buying a lorry is not currently a financially option, I have much greater need for an arena! So I did the best my budget would stretch to and bought a trailer and took my trailer test.
With our new found independence, the end of January and beginning of February have been spent teaching Dominica to love the trailer. Initially I started by just leading her through the trailer a few times each day, then progressing after a few days to shutting the bars. After a few more days, I started to shut the ramps, feeding her, her dinner whilst she stood quietly. Then eventually after a couple of weeks we started to go for little drives, 5 minutes at first and slowly building up the time.
She’s always been brilliant at the loading and travelling and seems happy in the trailer, but I can tell she’s worried about leaving her friend Lettie, another of my horses who you meet at a later date! Separation anxiety is pretty normal in young horses and with Dominica being 4 and Lettie 2, its not a huge surprise. They do have a wonderful old nanny pony, Izzy who takes care of them, but as Lettie has only been separated twice in her life, at weaning and when I collected her and she had to leave her best friend behind, in Lettie’s world, if your friend leaves, they aren’t coming back! I’m in it for the long haul with both of these lovely mares, so this separation process is something I’m willing to take my time over, with the future in mind.
In other news I’ve just found out that I’ve made it to the final 10 of the Silvermoor Haylage search for a 2019 ambassador. So if any of you can spare a minute, follow the link below and click on my picture, to vote. A few seconds of your time will make a huge difference to me https://poll.app.do/silvermoor-ambassador-s-2019/je-rResC
So now you’re all up to date! Sorry this is such a long one, I wanted to get the first blog in quickly as we are booked in for our first ever lesson next Thursday and I want to take you all along for the ride!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this, if you have please like and follow my blog, so you can be the first to find out about updates. You can also check me out on Facebook and Instagram as Aimee Aspinall.