Will I cope with the stress of my first riding challenge?

Yard Manager Heather Walton sets Richard his first challenge to compete Bea in their first dressage competition at the Barlow Show. Her backing had gone well and they were both now enjoying hacking out together and spending time in the school perfecting their walk and trot.
The test they had to learn seemed to be quite simple and was all in walk and trot with a couple of 20m circles and several rein changes.
That said the real challenge for Richard and Bea was going to be on the day, could they actually pull it off in front of the judges. They had only been riding together for a few months and although she had come along way, would young Bea and Richard cope with the stress of her first show? (Richard's Get into Riding story so far Read more)

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Richard continues...
Bea and I set about learning the test. Initially I thought there was no way I could do this with out a caller, however after just 6 practice runs, I had got it. Without a caller we set our attention to working on the individual elements, returning to the full test a couple of times a week to see how we were progressing.
Show day arrived, I was up at 5am, laoded Bea and before I knew it we were on route to the show ground. On arrival Bea was very excitable and spent most of her time shouting to all the other horses - another new experience for her, I'm sure all she wanted to do was go and play with her new friends.

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This was also a new experience for me so I decided to walk across to the corner of the field which had been set up as arena 1.
I checked my time and got my number, it was then that I registered there were 10 other people in my class. Trying to stay clam I headed back to the lorry to get changed and tack up Bea. I decided not to do plait's, not because I was short of time… the real reason being, I had never done them before.
All dressed up, we headed off to warm up, Bea was still very excited, but controllable, just lots of shouting and looking around and a bit of head shaking (which she does when she gets excited).
Then all too soon it was my turn. I will not describe the test step by step, but it wasn't the best we had ridden, for a start we didn't like the letter B! I had no problems remembering the test and in the great schemes of things it could have been worse.

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Once it was all over we relaxed, it was just a pity that I hadn't spent some time to relax and take it all in before the test started… But then it was our first show and new to us both - we could only get better.
I went back to the lorry and un-tacked Bea before we went for a walk to find some lush grass for her to munch while we waited for the class to end.
The results were in; I was 9th out of 10 riders with 52.2%. It was quite a close class with only two riders getting 60 and the rest of us in the 50s. I was pleased with my positioning, but as you will see from the video this was never going to be a prize winning performance. 


To have got through our first show without incident or accident felt like a huge achievement. 
Over the next couple of years Bea and I worked hard and returned to the Barlow Show only to win the Prelim Dressage class. I was so proud, I had won on the un-backed four year old I had purchased, what an amazing young lady she was turning out to be.

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Although delighted, I also knew that there was a hard decision to be made - Was Bea still the horse for me? She was always on the small side and although I loved her like I will probably never love another horse, I made the difficult decision to sell her and buy a horse that would enable me to grow my ability further. 


With the help of eventer Becci Harrold, I sold Bea and bought a 16.1hh black Irish Sports Horse gelding. A much bigger and fitter horse meant I was going to have to seriously improve my fitness and physical control, I knew another chapter was about to start in my riding ability.