A Lousy Dress Rehearsal

Dino says dressaging < foxhunting

I'm hoping that the old saying that a bad dress rehearsal is the precursor to a great performance is true, because our dressage school on Saturday was pretty bad!

Still riding the high from our awesome roading experience on Friday night, the next day I headed over to my trainer's indoor to run through my dressage tests with a friend who will be showing with us on Tuesday afternoon.

Now that he thinks he is a foxhunter, Dino was not having it with riding circles in the indoor.

There were three other horses in the ring with us: my friend, my trainer (riding a VERY misbehaved client horse!) and another acquaintance on her (thankfully) sensible gelding, as well as three or four dogs that kept milling in and out of the arena.

While I do like riding with others sometimes, Dino, like his human other half, works much better alone. He tends to use other horses as an excuse to not listen to me, get distracted, and get belligerent. I think it has a lot to do with all of the mental and emotional baggage he has surrounding group lessons in a ring, but any time I ride with friends in a ring I know I'm in for a fight with my pony. It's hard to try and explain this to people, I hate that it means I really can't join in on group jump lessons and the like, and I hate that it makes me sound like I'm making excuses for Dino's rotten behavior, but it is what it is. He's 17, he's got baggage, being in an arena with other horses makes him totally miserable to ride!

I tried to take my time warming up and getting Dino mostly in front of the leg. He was decently soft in the bridle at the walk, and I trotted him FOREVERRRRR to warm up but he never quite made the transition to "forward and compliant". He'd trot on, or canter semi-obligingly around the rail, but after making the down transition getting Dino to move forward again was another exercise in me kicking like a Pony Clubber. Really delightful.

Eventually we ran through BN A and B, with everyone taking turns riding their tests while we called the movements for each other. In theory it would have been a really super schooling session! While we performed all of the movements, Dino was extremely behind the leg and inverted 90% of the time. Ugh. I did, however, make it through BN B once without making any mistakes or forgetting the test, and I rode it once without stirrups. Because if your pony isn't going to cooperate, you may as well get a workout in.

Thankfully the four of us (my trainer now mounted on her lovely 3 y/o, thank goodness) ended the ride with a short hack through the woods, which both Dino and I were more than ready for after arguing for over an hour about dressage.

Feeling pretty bummed out, I decided to give the pony and myself Sunday off - I think we both needed the mental and physical break. Today I want to try and get a good flatwork session in and then we'll show both BN tests on Tuesday.

Here's hoping my bad dress rehearsal leads to some good scores!


  1. I definitely think struggling a bit through the practice run makes the actual show feel like it's smoother. Good luck at the show!

  2. Bleh! That baggage is really awful. How is he in the warm up at shows?

    1. At shows I try to keep him out of the designated warm-up area as much as possible - I go find a secluded patch of flattish grass somewhere and warm-up there instead of in the actual ring because he gets so distracted and pissy about the other horses being in there with him. Jumping he is usually ok because jumps = fun and he will go forward to the fences but dressage warm-up can be like pulling teeth if we are in a crowded space. Like I will literally ride him in the parking area if I need to!

  3. ugh bummer... but hey, maybe it'll be a blessing in disguise? like maybe he'll be so grateful to get into his very own personal dressage court for the test that he'll turn into fancy pants rockstar mode ??? anyway nice work avoiding any full on tantrums or fights - that alone counts for so much!

  4. It sounds like you know Mr. Pony very well, and that your rehearsal was merely a blip on your fab path. Have a great show! :D


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