I said that we were going to use warm up to get used to all the sights and sounds of a big competition and I suppose from that perspective today was a success. From competitive view-point it was a bit of a disaster (61.5%)!

The lorry was parked in the worse possible place for Abbey to relax. We were right on the cross roads of the lorry park and the main thoroughfare to the stables and warm-up arena with a campsite behind us. The combination and constant stream of horses, people, pushchairs, trolleys and wheelbarrows stacked with buckets/feed/bedding, lorries, cars & trailers going passed made getting ready awkward.

Abbey couldn’t stand still or relax for a moment. She grew at least a hand in height and there was a fair bit of snorting especially when she spotted the family tent being erected just behind her.

I did get her tacked up and ready (in between holding the end of the lead rope every time something scary went passed in case she pulled so hard that the string broke) and we headed to the warm up area.

Fortunately at the same time we were heading up another horse and rider were making they way there.  That horse seemed sensible so I used them as a lead.  The horsewalk does weave it’s way between the exhibitor marquees, some of which had soft sides which were fluttering in the breeze. One in particular was clearly a horse-eating marquee and we made our way diagonally passed that one, at speed.  Apologies to OH for jumping on him and his toes!

The warm up arena was very busy and contained plenty of flowers and banners.  In each corner were 30ft flag poles with 6ft flags at the top of them- these clunking, flapping things were the scariest part.

I had at least allowed a good 40 minutes to warm up. A good proportion of which was spend trying to get her used to the flags. At first I tried just allowing her to look at them….but as we were doing a form of river dance, I thought it better to get moving.  So I tried all the usual tricks – shoulder in, circles, someone also gave us a lead passed them! (Thank you to that very kind competitor!)  Eventually I did mange to get her go around the outside edge without throwing her head in the air and running.

The work we’d done at home with the LeTrec equipment helped as this is the way through from the warm up to the arenas:



Thankfully she only paused for a second and went through without much fuss.

Our arena was right at the far end and Abbey found it hard walking away from all her new-found friends. There were also a run of flags around the corner between C and H – walking around the outside edge was seemingly a no-go as you can see from the video.

Throughout the test Abbey was tense. She could barely contain herself to walk and we almost left the arena when I went passed A for the first time!

Still, we did complete the test (albeit with no inside bend). I did manage to keep Abbey between me and the ground throughout, and, it was good practice for the finals tomorrow.

I’ll try and let her go forward more, get a better curve onto the center line, relax and use more inside leg!

I know tomorrow’s test better than I did the warm up and we’re in the arena closet to the warm up (furthest from any flags!)

Much thanks to the OH for holding, fetching, carrying,filming and general support!