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Dressage for eventing.

Dressage. Now there's an activity. An essential part of the magic mix that is eventing, it is probably the biggest cause of angst among riders. Also known as STRESSAGE. During the long winter months, it is hard to maintain enthusiasm for boot camp lessons and mind numbing shows. The arena begins to resemble hell with some sand on the floor. Fast forward a few months and now you have the added complication of a fit, rabied horse desperately looking for the start box. Attempting to bend this nutter into some sort of submission seems to result in a lot of sweating (from both parties),and then belligerent half-cooperation (again, from both parties) before managing to sort of complete the test in the general area of the required markers and sometimes even in the right pace. The euphoric relief at getting it over with leads to clouded retrospection-'he was quite good really','lovely flying change,I mean I know it wasn't in the test but he has such promise for the future' and finally, the charitable 'it's not his fault! He's just keen to get out eventing. It's wonderful that he's so enthusiastic'. Indeed.

The rather more canny horse will work out quite quickly that he can be a bit of a shit in the arena during a test because for reasons unknown to him, you do absolutely nothing about it. The fear of getting some sort of telling off if you do demand your moronic psychotic Mexican jumping bean behave itself tends to paralyse you into near immobility, including a giant fixed grin. This is SUCH FUN. You must look like its FUN. The horse's thought processes always look hilarious too. 'Halt is it? Sure that's stupid. You know what's a load more fun than that? Spooking at these flowers and having a go at some passage. I'm so FABULOUS! LOOK AT ME EVERYONE! I'm doing PRANCERCISE!' If the horse is a total knob, he might add in some high blowing. Nothing sets every other horse in this and the next parish crazy like one horse prancing and high blowing. There could be a tiger or anything.....we should all flee! Flee where? From what? No one knows! Let's just all gallop around each other? And so on.

Occasionally, your horse might feel a bit sorry for you and actually do a lovely and cooperative test. He will be bored of the tea and sympathy by the time the showjumping comes around, but it will lull you into a false sense of security-'well that's the worst bit done with. He always jumps clear. And the cross country looks fine' this point, your equine comedian will make some arbitrary wild mental left turn regarding his feelings on planks, perhaps. Or ditches. Or water. Or anything to keep you on your toes. You will make it through, mostly in tact and sort of still able to function. You might have a touch of PTSD and the shakes for a few days, but by the time the next event entry is due in, you will have forgotten all. The on course photographer will have managed-somehow-to take a stunning photo of your wildebeest doing something fabulous and 4* -ish and you will gaze fondly at it many times a day, thinking of how special the horse is. The entry for the following week is closing tomorrow-he's bound to win next time out-you might even go to a dressage show in preparation.....

And it all begins again......

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