My Dressage Path
When i first brought Benson in 2002, I knew a had a slightly more trainable pony than Chelsea, he was good at showing off but still listening to what i was telling him. I used to ride a few dressage ponies when I was younger at the Half linger Stud over Bromsgrove, and of course watching the masters like Carl Hester, Silvia Lock and Mary King I began to take more of an interest in this area of our sport.
After breaking Benson in 2003/4, I then wanted to start getting him out, and unlike Chels who played up in the ring and only preferred to watch the others whilst eating dinky dounts outside the ring, he went quite well both in-hand and ridden, we brought home a few reds and blues and his behavior was super. I used this as a building block to desensitize him to the show atmosphere. He loved showing off proving cobs can!!!
I started doing un affiliated dressage a few years into his ridden career. We learnt how to ride the different movements in walk first and progressed into trot and canter, eventually. He was so flexible and willing, and such a pleasure to teach. I entered my first dressage test in 2006 and it didn’t go too bad we came away with 61 percent and some super comments about his way off going. Though he is a welsh cob x, and people presume cobs to be lazy and somewhat dim, Benson was quite an exception!! I never forget one of the comments a judge said, 'well ridden test, doesn’t seem an easy ride has lots of expression', thats why he was a dressage pony because he was willing to learn the technical, behave but didn’t loose his edge, and show quality in his movements, he certainly wasn’t flat and boring!
In 2004 I started work at Tong with mar Bates , a super teacher of everything horsey, but extremely old school. She tweaked my position, made me consider the aids more and how to ride even lighter in the hand whilst using my seat more and back statements. Her horse's there where obviously well trained, this helped me to develop my feel and more experience of riding others. The yard closed around 2006, mar Bates was getting old and the end of an era was upon us. Such a same for someone with that knowledge and experience to leave our world, i wanted to soak as much up as i possibly could.
I then started working at the competition/riding school in Telford for mike, by this time I had done a few more testes on Ben and taken my BHSPTC n started studying for my BHSAI. I had another fab experience here with the horses, I used the opportunity to build on more of my own ridden techniques, due to that they had a good selection of about ten trained dressage ponies/horses. I took Benson there for a few holidays which massively helped his education, and was able to take part in some of Matt Frosts clinics with him. First time in front of matt there we entered the ménage and he popped a wheelie with me just to show Matt how awake and agile he was, so funny.
At Telford I was able do ride Crackertan, a Warmblood Stallion, with impeccable manners and a fabulous education in Dressage. Abby was a super dutch-warmblood who was so light and for a mare not tedious at all. Gallent a massive warmblood x, he was young at the time i think 7yrs, so he was great to learn how to obtain balance and straightness on such a big fellow, 17.2hh!! There were a few more but these 3 i will never forget.
And finally Telford gave me Little Harry(not really little standing at 16hh)! I brought H because even though he was up to med-adv and was a BSJA, he was misunderstood and very explosive. I brought H back into work and managed to stay on him, unlike some of the previous riders who he took side wards in canter from one side of the school to the other, ditching them in the process! I loved his needy but very educated nature, he taught me and Crackertan, how to ride flying changes across the diagonals, he taught me what passage feels like and what aids to use, with Matt guiding us, but the main thing he taught me was, how not to treat a competition horse! I had to say goodbye to H after afew years of owning him, he was a very difficult horse with some mega issues, being locked up as a competition horse for practically most of the day for years before i had him, had made him develope severe anxiety issues, which in the end had made him quite a stressful, colicy and acutely sharpe horse. There is a picture in the Gallery of my and Harry at my yard, I brought him home for awhile so i could give him a little more love.
I then started the riding school at my yard, did some more tests on Benson, our last test in 2010 we hit the 75 percent at prelim and started to work in novice. The riding school was taking over a little now, getting us established, conforming to all the red tape and getting a good team of people together (mainly family n friends). By the time all that needed to be done was, it was the end of 2010 going into '11. Benson was becoming a vital part of the early team of horses i had, 6 in total then, so his job was now to start teaching and educating others from beginner to advanced. I decided it wouldn’t be far to compete him anymore, one job is enough, and riding school is not easy coping with different riders and people bouncing around learning rising trot! So i was focused on expanding and advertising my yard, had a few more equines, broke some in, retrained a few and had a baby, and then I felt it was time to get back to my riding and competition career.
In 2013 I started looking for the next level horse, by this I mean that you have got to be honest with yourself no matter how much you love them, Benson being a cob and obviously only 14.2hh would realistically never be able to take me pass medium level affiliated dressage, and before anyone huffs those that know me know I love my cobs and ponies to bits. But you don’t see them competing at higher level dressage prix st George or Olympic standard, so if I was serious and i am, you have to buy something that can perform all the movements with ease and have natural cadence/elevation/lightness in their carriage. Yes Ben could do piaffe but that took a herd of horses running behind him or pump him full of protein feeds to blow his brain!! It wouldn’t be fair, especially when the finer tb types can do it more naturally when asked with very little external influence.
May 2013 I saw Jessca for sale from a friend, I liked the look of her pretty, elegant and very active from behind and light in front. She was 5 years old, bred at High Offley stud in staffordshire and has got super manners on the ground, stable and lorry, perfect!! From the age of 3 she was broke to showjump being that she is agile and fast, by the time she was 4 she was clearing 1m10 with ease! Though she had no idea what legs meant bar go, and her brakes were non-exsistant.
When my friend brought her to jump she knew Jess had an accident, her mouth was ripped to pieces and wasnt excepting the contact, somewhere between being broke and sold to Elite Sports Horses where my friend had her from, she had been in the wrong hands. We found out that the accident was a jumping accident where the rider wasnt competent enoughand