I do very much apologise for the delay in updating the blogs since I have arrived in Germany. It has been absolutely flat out here! Where to even begin?
Training has been getting better every day, and I’m proud to say that each day we can tick the box on improvements. FINALLY we have the counter-canter sorted for which I am incredibly relieved as it was a long 5 months in the making. It is however, the reality when you have a young horse and a relatively green rider in the Dressage world. Training takes time.
Lotus and I travelled last week to the last Ankum show of the season. Now that winter is wrapping up (hopefully) we will move in to some of the outdoor shows which I am really looking forward to. I think Lotus is just as over the multiple layers as I am. The first night was the Test of Choice in which we could nominate the test we wished to do.
This is a great opportunity to practice in front of judges that are judging all the way up to Grand Prix. We took the opportunity to do the L test, which I would be riding in on Thursday night. I was a little nervous, but I had Briana’s groom, Ian with me who kept me grounded and really helped that evening. Lotus seemed to have inherited her rider’s dislike for chestnut horses as in the warm up, she planted her feet and ran backwards whenever a chestnut horse came toward her. Unfortunately for us, there was 5 of them in the arena!
In the arena during our Test of Choice.
Into the competition ring we went, and we were the last ride for the night. It was about 9:30pm when I went in, and Lotus truly gave me a great feeling showing just how far we have both come in the last months. Our score was announced and we had achieved an absolute personal best of 69%! There were lots of treats for Lotus that night.
Thursday saw us getting ready for the competition that evening. My class didn’t start until 8:30pm and I was 10th to go out of 30. I was dreading the warm up and as I walked in, to my horror I saw there was 4 chestnuts out of the 5 horses in there! Luckily Lotus was a gem, conquering her fear and trotting past them although she still kept an ear on them at all times!
Ian giving us a pre-comp pep talk. I was freaking out! Lotus is obviously unconcerned.
My goal for this test was a repeat of the night before – calm and accurate with Lotus waiting in the seat. Sure enough, the test was going great until the final counter-canter in which Lotus disunited on the final stride. Our change was then a bit early. On the plus side, the pirouette was a lot tighter and more together than the night before.
I felt a bit disappointed with the mistake and as I came out of the ring Ian was staring at me and blurted out “Good god woman what is that matter!? That was great!”. We were in the middle of discussing the mistake when Mum came barrelling out of the stables close to tears. Horrified I was thinking I’d been eliminated!
Turns out I was so upset about the mistake that I missed the score which was 70%! We’d beaten our score from the night before, and we’d even had a mistake. That meant that we were into the final with the top 15 horses. I had 5 minutes to learn the new test before we went in again, this time at 10:45pm.
Although the test had a few more mistakes than I would have liked, I was really able to push Lotus and experiment with our buttons in the ring. In the end, we finished 9th overall and I was very happy. Lotus then enjoyed the weekend off being a complete grub and spending her days rolling about in the sand.
Lotus enjoying her time outside.
Mum and Dad have now headed back to Australia. I was lucky enough to have them here for the first month, and Dad was finally able to see me compete in Germany. For me, this is really the first time I have lived away from home and so this first week has been a bit tough.
Apparently Mum doesn’t believe I can be trusted as she replaced all my candles with battery operated ones. I hate to admit it, but she was right. The first day I went to training, I left them all on by mistake. Luckily they aren’t using fire!
Dad taking Lotus for a walk on her rest days.
Before they left, we celebrated my birthday which was on the 16th. It was a certain change, waking up to snow instead of scorching heat. We spent a lovely day going out for breakfast, training and Mum and Dad surprised me by taking me to the tack store to get a pair of custome made top boots. I am so excited to be able to have something made that will fit my legs properly. They will be ready in 4 weeks and I can't wait!
Each day after training I drag myself out of the apartment and go for a walk to keep the fitness up. I have to say, I am really getting sick of walking in the rain and snow. Bring on spring! We are lucky here in that every Friday there are markets in the town square which sell all fresh produce for the week. It’s an amazing atmosphere considering the town square and church were built in 1350. It’s even more amazing when the whole area is covered in snow.
The church with the last bits of melting snow.
I have some fresh flowers, baguettes and home made pesto. Mmm.
In the meantime, Uni has once again started up. To keep myself distracted, I have discovered Amazon.de with next day delivery straight to your door, and the bonus is they even deliver on Saturdays! For anyone who has lived out of town, and has a significant drive to the post office, you will realise what a novelty it is to have something actually delivered to your door. It is an endless world of cyber shopping.
I have since learnt that when driving here, the only way to get by is to be as arrogant as the Germans are behind the wheel. I have googled their road signs, and the give way thing still gets me at 4 way intersections. I have come to the conclusion that it is whoever gets there first has the right of way. Naturally that means he-who-has-the-fastest-car gets there first. I maintain that the VW is red, therefore it is fast. In reality, it is more like Mr-German in the Porsche gets there first.
It is now just a little over 6 weeks until our first qualifier in Deauville, France. We are now focusing on the training and the tests to really make sure that it is all familiar to us.
Not long until the games now!
A huge thank you to the support crew behind me.
My parents – for always being there.
James, my brother – for looking after the ponies at home so well
Matt, my boyfriend – for working hard back in Australia so I can be here.
My family and friends – for keeping in touch and supporting me from home.
My sponsors – Horseland Orange, Ride n Shine and PromectinPlus Mini for keeping myself and Lotus looking schmick in our gear.
Until next time,
Mil and Lotus Bug
The morning of my birthday, we woke up to some snow.