Why low marks can be a good thing and dealing with a spooky 14 year old cob: Unaffiliated Novice 9/09/18


This Sunday I took Lily to South Staffs College to compete in the Novice. She came 3rd with a score of 67.9% which I was pleased with considering she hadn’t been out in a while but there is definitely room for improvement in there. As hard as it is, I am trying to be excited about working on those challenges and not shying away from them. Getting a big score is fine but can often leave you complacent. On the other hand, getting a lower score can be embraced as it means your weaknesses are brought forward and you have something to drive your schooling instead of just wandering around aimlessly. If you reframe the lower marks in this way, you can be more resilient when things don’t go right and even get excited about it. Even though it is uncomfortable being told your weaknesses by a judge, you are now in a place to face up to the weaknesses and propel yourself into more success. 


Anyway, as for how the day went, we arrived a little too early as I like to allow loads of time. The difficulty on this occasion was that they were running late. I went in to warm up and started with the first half of my warm up but then did a lot of walking, halting and rein back to keep her listening to me. However, even as I was getting ready to do the second half of my warm up I put loads of walk breaks in because we had so much time. However, for Lily its not just about being physically tired, she also finds it hard mentally to focus on me for a long periods of time. Even still I was really pleased with the warm up because she was really soft and working from behind during my medium canter exercises and counter canter. The trot was going well in terms of suppleness but this competition highlighted that she needed to be more on my aids during transitions. 


When we went into the test arena she was very spooky and unsure. So, I gave her a little canter as this tends to relax her, then did my transitions within the pace at trot before we entered. The best thing about the test is that she felt very straight and even between the two reins which is something we have been working on all year really. The things I would like to improve would be: getting my leg on more from trot down to walk transitions and getting her a bit lighter in the rein. Putting these things into perspective I know they have both improved a lot over this year but I also think there is even more lightness and engagement to come in the future. 


My main learning from this show was the importance of focusing on the journey and not the destination. When you get too wrapped up in what you would like to qualify for and how much you want to be at a certain level, it’s easy to forget that horses aren’t machines. Success is not a straight line and it isn’t quick. Unexpected events will inevitably slow your progress. You just have to find ways to helps you manage the unexpected and bounce back from it. I also had to take a moment to realise how far she has come with me in the 9 years I have been riding her, she’s not built for it and has a tricky temperament but she has a heart of gold and an amazing engine. I cherish every ride I have on her because she is my super cob. 

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