Personally I prefer the more natural look, and it took a shake of the head for me to restore my wind swept rugged good looks.
I'm not sure I liked the early morning call, but I didn't mind getting fed my big breakfast of competition mix. I don't think I mind being a dressage diva if I get all this yummy food. It wasn't long before I was loaded up into the box on wheels for a long trip to Addington Equestrian Centre, to compete in the NPS Supreme Dressage Championships. Wow, it's massive. Two huge indoor schools, more about those later; and so many outdoor schools I lost count.
Let the drama begin.....Mum left me in the box on wheels eating some yummy haylage (leftover from Woodys trip to us). So while I happily tucked in, Mum went off to register and get the low down on what was what and where everything was. We had arrived in plenty of time for our 11.10am test. Only to discover the entry secretary had entered Mum into the under 14's class! Now I know Mum looks young for her age but even I think that's a bit optimistic. It turns out the Dales section started at 8.30am, so we had missed our class. Amazingly Mum was quiet calm about this and stood looking distressed and confused at the lady who had told her this. The lady was more flustered than Mum. Fortunately the same judge was also judging the Connermaras in the same arena, so the lady was able to squeeze us in at the end of their class. It meant waiting until 12.40pm. The upside to all of this was had we been entered correctly I would have been woken up in the middle of the night to get there in time and Mum's Pops already thought he had!
Eventually Mum let me out the box on wheels and tied me to the trailer, still with yummy haylage while we waited for time to pass. Now those of you who know me, know patience isn't my strongest point, but I rose to the occasion and stood very patiently eating my haylage and taking in the scenery and chatting tactics with Benji dog. He wasn't very interested in what I had to say.
In slow time she groomed me until I thought she was going to brush away all my hair! At last it was time to tack up and head on out to the huge warm up arena. I think we looked very smart and quite the picture of Dales talent.
It was time to focus, with so much going on it was very overwhelming, so there is only one thing to do in these situations, and that is to listen and trust Mum. We have been to quiet a few new venues recently and I have to say Mum was feeling surprisingly relaxed and this reassured me lots. Having spent ages waiting we turned up to the warm up to be told they were running ahead of schedule and we would be on in 15 minutes, there goes the planned 30 minute warm up! Super focused Mum put me through my paces, lots of transitions and plenty of correct canter leads, the question was could we replicate it when it mattered......
The answer was yes! Thanks to Polly's super teaching, Mum stayed focused and didn't rush the canter transitions and I swear she was enjoying herself, which made me relax and we had great fun strutting our stuff and showing off how brilliant us Dales ponies can be.
I've uploaded the video of us dancing our duet onto YouTube, so you can judge for yourselves.
After we completed our test we were given our finalist rosette.
Time for home then? Apparently not. No. More hanging around tied to the back of the trailer! Mum kept going to check for our scores but it turned out we were in the top ten but we didn't know where and had to go to the big prize giving ceremony. After lots more hanging about, Mum decided to watch back our video that her Dad had taken of us. More drama, it wasn't there. They searched and searched, the photos were there but no video. Her Pops was mortified, and to make up for this nightmare, brought two lovely professional photos of me doing my stuff, thanks Pops. When we got home it mysteriously appeared, not sure what you did Mum but clever tactics, we need to try that again!
Eventually the time creeped along to the point where Mum decided she should tack me up ready for the prize giving. We still had a long wait but we stood and chatted to the other three Dales owners at the show, and made some new friends. There was even another Akehurst dales there (Akehurst Lady's Man) but I didn't get to say hello to him as he wasn't in our class. Mum sat chatting to Christina on her lovely Dales stallion, a Broscoe Samuel (aka Teef, cos he's handy with his teeth and they speak funny up north!) until we were called in.
The indoor arena is huge, with flags and arena seating for lots of humans to watch and there was loud music and clapping which was making Mum tense, so I was a little unsettled too. We all trotted around the arena and were called into line, this is starting to feel like showing Mum, we don't do showing! A loud voice was announcing the results in reverse order. I should point out now that ponies being placed first had to go and do 4.5 minutes of dressage to music to see if they would be crowned Supreme champion. It's also worth saying I wasn't expected to qualify let alone get a top ten placing, so we hadn't even considered the need to worry about performing dressage to music! It wasn't too long before we started to worry about this.
8th, 7th, 6th, 5th, my name still hadn't been called, I started to think maybe it was all a mistake and with the confusion of the wrong class in the morning we weren't actually supposed to be there. 4th, 3rd still my name had not been called. It left me and the Broscoe Samuel in the line up, our riders exchanged terrified glances as it dawned on them, one of them was going to be doing dressage to music. 2nd.......Akehurst, phew, Mum collapsed with relief on top of me, Take A Chance.
We had come 2nd, Mum was as proud as punch, I couldn't do standing still, it had all got too exciting. Not only had I come 2nd but it turned out with a score of 72.08% and we beat a Highland pony who has competed at HOYS. Our first over 70% score at Prelim level in front of BD judges, way to go! I can't tell you how many hugs I got from Mum, I have more brownie points than I know what to do with.