Friday, 7 April 2017

Dressage Anywhere competition

Recently, I took part in my first ever 'Dressage Anywhere' competition. They run a number of different classes each month and all you need to do is video yourself at home and upload your video to the website with your entry form, the idea being that you can enter from pretty much anywhere in the world without having to leave home.
Each month from September-March there is an RDA competition, with each of these acting as qualifiers for the RDA Dressage Anywhere Championship, which takes place in April/May each year. The last chance to qualify is March of that year, and you have to have uploaded your video by 31st March - so when I found out about it with only ten or say days left in March I had to get my skates on!

I googled "wheelchair skates" and found these - 'chariot stakes'!
My first attempt to video the test wasn't ideal. The weather was just horrible - wet, windy and cold. I was on Oscar and he wasn't particularly impressed at the idea of doing dressage outside in those conditions (I suspect that if we'd been jumping it would have been a different story!) especially as the test was a bit below his normal standards and I think he felt it was beneath him!

Of course, complacency is never helpful and him refusing to walk nicely meant that the general impression wasn't quite as fluent as I'd hoped. It didn't help that all the things he'd seen a million times before were suddenly terrifying, as was the sight of my mother in an anorak with her hood up. We had many, many spooks!
I love this!

I had another opportunity to do the test a couple of days later on Rolo at RDA. Rolo has a really good walk - you don't have to do anything with it, really! He's very happy to motor along with little encouragement. The only thing he's not so good at is stopping! Most of the test I was doing was in walk, which felt odd to me because I always felt as if I should be moving faster.
This expression looks like boredom but is more like concentration!
People often think that a walk test is easier than a trot or canter test, but I find them harder. Most dressage moves are easiest in trot - it gives you an excellent rhythm and near-symmetry in the horse, so straight lines and turns alike are easier to control. Trot also has the advantage that it's easy to influence without straying outside the pace. In walk, for example, a horse like Rolo will easily break into trot if you nag him too much and don't control your seat properly. In trot, you can use your rising to command the horse to stay in trot (lucky that para riders can use rising trot at all levels) throughout your extension, collection and lateral work. I find it far easier to keep the correct bend or straightness in trot than walk because walk gives me too much time - I twitch and fidget (unintentionally) and stray off course but trot keeps me on the straight (or curved, where applicable!) and narrow. Concentrating on walk throughout a whole test is phenomenally difficult, as Sophie Christiansen once pointed out!
Although with 45 Gold medals at international level, and a world number 1 ranking across all para grades, she's clearly rather good at it!
Anyway, this test involved just small amounts of trot but mostly walk. I had learned it with my new 'learn a test' whiteboard affair so bravely (for me!) did it without a caller. This was fine until I got home, uploaded it (with only one day to go to the deadline), then made the mistake of watching another person's video. It was fine until they turned across the school at a point I wasn't expecting - argh!!!! Then I realised I was watching a different test for a different class...doh.
I scared myself...
Anyway, the whole process was pretty painless. All I needed to do was register (for free) with Dressage Anywhere, fill in the entry form and pay (£12 for this class), then upload my video. Uploading took over two hours and I was worried it hadn't worked, but it did eventually. There's also the option to upload your video to YouTube (which I did, as a backup) and provide a link. I think I might do that next time, because it would have been far quicker!
Rolo's halt. Not exactly straight but fairly neat - even if it did take two attempts!
The tests were marked by 2nd April and I was pleased to come first! The score sheet also had some really useful advice, and I'm hoping that I'll be invited to compete in the annual Championship so that I can put that advice into practice. The rosette came through yesterday so I was able to take it to RDA and get a photo with Rolo. 😊
I also won some prize money which covered the entry fee and then some, so my mum and I bought sweets and chocolate for everyone at RDA - all the riders had to wait for me to finish before they could get started and although I didn't ride again later I felt a bit bad about monopolising the arena at the start!
Here's the video I sent in:


  1. Well done Lizzie and congrats on your first place!

    1. Aw, thank you very much! Looking forward to doing more. :)