"Two Saturdays have passed with two big events and a busy week in between at Contessa Riding Centre.
Last Saturday was our ‘Dressage Unravelled’ lecture/demo with international trainer John Bowen. John talked about the correct developmental training in dressage through the competition levels using the scales of training.
We began the evening with Head Girl Sarah riding her own horse Adonnis, a four-year-old stallion by Gribaldi and half brother to Moorlands Totilas, competing at Prelim and in young horse classes. John started by assessing his conformation, before looking at the quality of his walk, trot and canter and the correctness of his way of going, using the first few scales of training.
Next in was Jade and Sarah riding Regitse and Real, two of our more advanced warmblood school horses, to demonstrate some Medium movements. They began by warming up and John spoke about their way of going in the three paces and the effect that the riders position has on the horses’ movement. Then they worked on some square turns, shoulder-in, travers and half pass.
Charmer came in next and some members of our vaulting group demonstrated what they have been learning in the Saturday vaulting sessions. I think the audience enjoyed their little taster of this different discipline.
Then I rode Queijada, a Lusitano mare owned by Sylvia Loch’s daughter that I have been working with for four years. She is a lovely mare that has a super willing attitude, excels at the piaffe/passage work but struggles a little with her flying changes. John looked at her basic paces and compared them to that of other breeds. We then moved on to look at the more collected work including pirouettes, piaffe, passage and flying changes, which although she finds difficult, tried very hard at - especially the one-times.
Finally, Jade came in on Pik Dame, my Grand Prix ex-competition mare who I represented Great Britain with in 2000. John has been a huge fan of Pik Dame throughout her training and competitive career and even competed her for me on a few occasions when I was unable to. He wanted her to come in to show how although rare, a horse that has received correct training and the right amount of TLC can succeed at top level competition and then still be going fit and sound at 26! Although not in full work, she still loves to come out and show off and also is invaluable for teaching students the feel of advanced movements. She warmed up in walk, trot and canter, before demonstrating a little piaffe and passage.
All the horses behaved fantastically and were beautifully turned out. We had an excellent turn out and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Thank you very much to John, all the riders, helpers and staff who helped to make it a great success.
As it was half-term last week, we had a very busy week of Hallowe'en themed pony days. Everyday was full and the kids had a great time, although I think the staff and ponies were a little tired by the end of the week! We also spent the week raising money for Breast Cancer Care in ‘Wear it Pink' week, collecting £2 from clients and staff wearing pink.
We concluded the week with our ‘Wear It Pink’ fundraising evening on Saturday. Thank you to Sharon, who spent two days baking cakes and biscuits with a pink or Hallowe'en theme that we sold throughout the day. In the evening we also had a raffle and tombola run by Jackie and her family, a fun dog agility course and a ‘have a go at vaulting’ session. Staff, clients and friends brought their furry friends along and we had small, medium and big dog classes where participants paid £2 to go round - this included some humans leading humans! Also during the evening we had a Hallowe'en fancy dress competition, so many thanks go to Kathy for supplying fantastic Hallowe'en bags as prizes for us. Paul also spent a happy hour or so painting horse shoes pink to sell, they went like hotcakes! I would also like to thank Madeleine for all her hard work in helping organise this event.
The evening ended with a farewell to Head Girl Sarah, who after 13 years is moving on to other things. We presented her with some lovely pressies which many of the clients had contributed to as well as staff. I would like to again thank Sarah for all her hard work over the years, it has been much appreciated and you will be sorely missed. We wish you all the best in everything you do."