Le Stressage

I have been keeping a low profile… lots going on here, plus I’m trying to get some WORK done (more on the definition of WORK in a week or two).

I’m working away steadily with the two horses.  I do a mix of travail sur sol (in hand work), dressage and trekking with the two of them.  It’s difficult to balance it, though.  Aero really excels at travail sur sol  and it’s hard not to neglect Flurry in this respect.  Flurry excels at trekking (my little bomb-proof boy!) and it’s hard not to neglect Aero here.

Anyway, for the last two weeks, I’ve been working towards a stressage I mean dressage competition.  My second, over here in France, AND to complicate matters, I decided to try a more difficult test.  Well, why not… life is short, after all.

So the next level up is Club 2.  As far as I can make out, it’s somewhere between Novice and Elementary, as per Dressage Ireland or British Dressage.  FYI, the levels in Ireland and the UK go Preliminary, Novice, Elementary, Medium and I can’t possibly think beyond that.  I’ve only ever done Preliminary so far.  Anyway, here’s a translation of the test, Club 2 Grand Prix, especially for my friends who do judging back home.  Just skip this if you’re not into dressage!

  1. A. Enter at working trot. X. Halt, immobility, salute.  XC. Working trot.
  2. C. Track left.  HS. Working trot. S. Circle left, 12M.
  3. SF. Change rein, showing a few lengthened strides.  FA. Working trot.
  4. A. Down centre line.  Between L and X, commence leg-yield right, rejoining the track between S and H.
  5. HCMR. Working trot.  R.  Circle right, 12M.
  6. RK. Change rein, showing a few lengthened strides.  KA. Working trot.
  7. A. Down centre line.  Between L and X, commence leg-yield left, rejoining the track between R and M.
  8. MC. Working trot. CH. Medium walk.
  9. HSP. Extended walk.
  10. PFA. Medium Walk.
  11. A. Transition to working canter right (direct). AK. working canter right.
  12. KXH. Canter loop.
  13. HCM. Working canter. MB. Working canter, straight (i.e. think shoulder-fore).
  14. B. Circle right, 15M.
  15. BK. Change rein, with transition to trot near L.
  16. KA. Medium walk.
  17. A. Transition to working canter left (direct). AF working canter left.
  18. FXM. Canter loop.
  19. MCH. Working canter . HE. Working canter, straight (i.e. think shoulder-fore).
  20. E. Circle left, 15M.
  21. EF. Change rein, with transition to trot near L. FA. working trot.
  22. A. Down centre line.  I. Halt, immobility, salute.

It’s a nice test in that it’s symmetrical.  And it’s only in recent years that leg-yield became something that you’d find in Elementary rather than in Novice back home.  The smaller figures, however, test the horse’s balance and suppleness.  Until now, I have had to do 20M trot or canter circles and 10M walk circles.  Suddenly we’re doing 12M circles in trot and 15M circles in canter.  It makes a difference, believe me.  Then there’s that canter loop thingy in each rein.  It’s introducing the idea of counter-canter and it’s also (when performed correctly) introducing lateral work in canter.

Today was the day for Le Stressage!  I chose to take my safe little stalwart, Flurry.  Why?  When Aero is so much more athletic and so much better schooled?  Well, one of the gripes I have about French dressage at Club level is that sitting trot is required at all levels, even the most basic.  I know damn well that I can’t sit Aero’s trot for more than a few strides at a time, so until he and I are comfortable together in sitting trot, Flurry will be my dressage competition horse.

I have to say, I felt like a movies star, riding through the show-grounds, with my paparazzi following me!  I’m sure people were wondering “Who’s yer wan?” (only in French).  Two friends videoed the test and the LSH took photos. (Thanks Sarah, Sandra and George) Here’s a selection of the photos.

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I will post a video when I get it!

Was I happy with our test?  Thrilled, actually!  We got loads of 7s, for our trot work and our right canter.  Left canter was weaker, so our marks were lower and we broke into trot in our extended walk, for our only 4 of the test.  We ended up with 62.33%, placed joint 4th out of fourteen.  And a second rosette to add to the French Collection, not to mention a little plaque to go with it.


Yup.  Thrilled.

Tomorrow I face a sad farewell and a (hopefully) happy bonjour.  Stay tuned…

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