It’s been a while since Abbey and I took to the school to practice a test, but with a competition in just 2 days I thought we’d better do some.

Lately we’ve been focused on building Abbey’s strength and suppleness, particularly in her trot work. Looking back at the video, I can see it is paying off. She’s much more uphill and there’s more cadence.

It always amazes me how long my reins look. It feels like I’ve got them very short, but that is not what the video shows. I won’t change the length of more reins on the day and put us outside of our comfort zone, but I will certainly want to get the same feeling of “short” reins.

When practicing a test I like to run through in full. Some people don’t, particularly if their horse is quick to learn the floorplan and anticipate the movements. I try to head this off by breaking down the test afterwards and going through the movements individually and not in order.

One benefit to doing the full test at home, is finding out whether I actually know it as well as I think I do. As I went wrong, it shows that I don’t. (More homework for me!). It also highlights any weaknesses between the movements as well as in them.

I wasn’t happy with our canter 1/2 20m circles with a trot in between to change lead. This is something for the longer term as we (not just Abbey!) loose our balance in the downwards transition which then make it hard to get the new bend, which then affects our upwards transition. Interestingly, they don’t look as bad as they felt.

When I practiced the movement on it’s own, they got better when I sat tall and collected the canter before the transition.

I also noticed that when I wasn’t running through the test, I gave the rein more and Abbey relaxed more. It was just a little give with my fourth finger, but every time Abbey reacted by relaxing and working more over her back. I’ve got to remember to do this on competition day, it’ll help us both to relax into the test.

I want to be braver in the medium work. Towards the end of the practice (rather than the test run), I got some good (for us!) lengthening.

Feel free to comment with any other observations….all constructive criticism gratefully received!