After years training yourself and your horse, its now time to go out and compete, showcasing your horses training and your improvements together over the past few months.
You have invested your time and money in being the best you and your horse can be in partnership. The regular lessons with your dressage coach, the maintenance of your horses wellbeing, the food, the vitamins (for both of you erhmm), the farrier/vets bills, the matchy matchy, the expensive german competition clothing, and the up-keep of the horsebox to get you out and about, and of course the months of mud sweat and graft, often while the unbelievers are tucked up in their beds on a wet dark winters morning.
The spring has arrived, Its time.. You turn up at the competition. Horses are groomed, plaited and polished. Tack is cleaned to another level (well the bits that can be seen) and tests are hastily recited to loved ones in the back of the horsebox. Nerves are starting to build as your warm up time approaches.
Your horse is unloaded, and you carefully step up into the saddle, keeping everything just as it should be. Entering the warmup you realise its busy, really busy, with amazing looking horses all around, (don't worry the fellow competitors are looking at you and thinking the same), you start your warm up.
However, today your coach is not with you, but your mother is, she is your moral support and love it or not, your only eyes on the ground. As you trot by you try to catch her eye, something doesn't feel quite right. You don't want to shout or draw embarrassing attention to your plight, but you just can't get them to stop chatting with a passing friend.
Eventually you catch your mothers eye, and after using head nods and mouthed whispers, you blurt out at full volume... "IS HE ON THE BIT" it turns out to your nerves have got the better of you and your horse is perfectly on the bit, you even get the remark.. "He is in a nice outline!".. from a now slightly nervous Mother, who wants to be constructive.
In the meantime, your Mother is feeling the intimidation, as an ex Olympic rider has rested his lanky frame over the fence, right next to her, you are completely unaware that Franz Christian Schnidelburg has pitched up. Nods are exchanged between your flustered Mother and Franz as he nonchalantly turns to his minions running around after him, he starts barking out confident instructions to his pupil and grooms across the showground.
20 minutes has passed, you have done your trot work and canter work, you halt... again Mother is still phased out, her confidence at an all time low, as she has been listening to the sheer volume and quantity of instruction from Franz "Ya, ya das ist gut.. more bendz, nine, nine, ya ya, more more!"
Now your Mother is feaking out, as she catches your eye and spots your head nods towards the ground, you give up, trotting over as you ask "WAS HE SQUARE?" ...by which time the moment is gone, you roll your eyes, bandages are taken off, for your final 10 minutes, you plead with your Mother to help and be constructive, after all she has sat with your trainer for years, and actually is a really useful set of eyes on the ground at home, just not today, not at this competition. If only there was a solution...
The solution? A two way radio system, where you can talk quietly to your mother in the distance, hands free.
You can ask... "Is he square?" Your mother can whisper back to you.. "Left hind!" You adjust and his hind leg takes the weight, the perfect halt... You trott on, now your Mother is feeling a bit more confident even though Franz is shouting orders right next to her " ya ya, use de seat, nine agghhhh, nine.. vonderbart!" Your Mums understanding of German or his version of English with ze German accent is growing, as she smiles to her self when his rider goes by looking perfect but slightly stressed.. Your mum then whispers into your ear... "Franz is getting quite red darling, I think he is loosing his voice", she laughs, and you laugh back, while gathering your reins after a good neck stretch and breather for you.
Now you are feeling relaxed and in control, your mothers confidence improves as she receives your calm feedback. The warmup becomes much more constructive.
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