I’ve delayed writing this post because I wasn’t sure what to say. On Saturday we went to the local venue to do dressage and WE DID RUBBISH.

It wasn’t dramatic, there were no tantrums, but as soon as we entered the arena Abbey hollowed. From then on she point blank refused to let go and work in an outline.

I have literally spent weeks softening and supplying. We’ve been building power into Abbey’s trot work and I had practiced the tests at home. I’d had weekly lessons, I’d done my homework and yet we were still rubbish.

I so want to be good at this darn sport and at the moment, our scores seem to be going backwards.

‘Frustrated’ doesn’t cover half of what I was feeling as we headed home.

That was 4 days ago, and I am not going to lie, I’m still feeling pretty down about it.

On Monday I had a lesson and it took nearly 45 minutes for Abbey to properly relax and let go. On one hand I’m pleased it went that way. It showed my RI how we’d got stuck and gave him the opportunity to help us work through it.

Patience is key. Getting cross and frustrated gets me nowhere; when I tense I hang on and then Abbey can hang on too. With neither of us giving, we’re in a vicious circle.

The question for me is ‘why?’ Why has Abbey started to resist working over her back? Why won’t she flex and bend?

A fortnight ago I’d got a new dressage saddle. It’s a treeless one which can also be used with an interchangeable gullet system. The week before (when she was still going really well), I’d been using it without a gullet, last week I’d put a gullet in.

I’d also noticed that since the show she’d been standing with her legs crossed. In the past this has been a sign that her tummy is sore. Perhaps she doesn’t want to work properly because she’s too much stomach acid or perhaps because her tummy is sore she’s been standing in a weird way and some of her muscles are tight.

I don’t believe she’s being ‘naughty’.

So the gullet has been removed and she’s back on a proton pump inhibitor. We’ve been through the sore-tummy loop a few times now,so I am confident that I can get her more comfortable on that front fairly quickly.

Once that is sorted, I will expect to see her getting better in school at home but if I don’t see an improvement, then I will return to using my old saddle.

It’s back to basics in the menage too – just flexing and circles in walk and trot until she’s comfortably working over her back and through from behind.