My time as a VCE Theatre student taught me that nothing tells you more about a character than their entrance and if Danson Wolkenaction’s entrance to the competition arena for 2013 is anything to judge by then this horse has a bright future ahead of him! Our first event for the calendar year was the Candlebark Dressage Championships, hosted by Riddells Creek Pony Club, on the 12th January.
The day before a competition is usually a blur of hurried cleaning, packing, writing of lists, crossing off of lists and last minute attempts to memorise tests. This is made all that much bigger a deal when you have not competed in a long time as was the case for Action and I, not having gone out since October 2012. That being the case, I pulled my white breeches out from the bottom of my drawer, found my stock and bridle numbers and washed my tack in anticipation of the day to come.
On the morning of the 12th it was a 5am start for Action and myself as I dragged myself out of bed, down to his paddock and then the two of us into the stables and began our final competition preparation. Mane plaited and sewn, socks scrubbed for the second time, tail brushed, float boots and tail bandage on and it was on the float and off to Candlebark by 7am.
Action and my first test was the Preliminary 1D and so after a quick chat with the ever helpful Matthew Sievers who was manning the gear check all day (what a trooper) we headed out into the huge new warm up area. As I walked Action around the arena and showed him all the boogie men I met a lovely girl who was ‘giving serious dressage a bash’ for the first time as a convert from show jumping. She was explaining how she understands that dressage is the foundation of all equestrian training and so wouldn’t start her young horse as a show jumper until it was established in dressage. I was very excited to try and convert her into a dressage diva but sadly I was unsuccessful as she explained she would be going to a show jumping competition the next weekend with her other horse.
Action was very well behaved in his first test and, contrary to what I expected of an inexperienced horse in a new environment, thought that he might take a nap towards the end of the test. Despite him being a little too relaxed (I can’t believe I’m saying that), the overall test was a real step forward and scored 68.2% to take equal second place (third on a countback). We were off to a great start to the competition!
We had a four hour break between tests and in this time I was able to catch up with some of the other young riders at the event. I called for Beth Schroen in the Medium Championship which was a great opportunity to support a fellow Young Dressage Rider Squad member of many years as well as have a sticky beak at the very interesting medium class. Beth did a great job, taking out second place in the 4B – well done! Michaela Bray rode her lovely Acacia Ridge Vivaldi in both the Prix St Georges and the Intermediate 1 classes to take out some great scores and fourth and third placings as well as the young rider award in both classes. Congratulations Micky! Chloe Ritchie rode her beautiful pony in the Pony Elementary Championship to take second place which was an excellent effort! The final young rider I caught up with was Alicia Ryan with her lovely gelding Quiggley. They were competing in the Elementary Championship and did some excellent work to earn two scores over 61% – a super effort!
After a great break it was time to get Action ready for our second test. Action backed up his first test and came out even more relaxed and at home in the competition environment. In the 1D we had a slight miscommunication where Action thought it was time to leave the arena and I thought otherwise, although after a quick discussion we were able to push past this to produce some good work and take out a 69.4% and third place. This, combined with our score from the 1B, made him Junior Preliminary Champion and Open Reserve Preliminary Champion. He was very happy to have some Rewards and then be bundled up in his rugs and float boots and head back home to his dinner.
Needless to say I couldn’t have been happier with how Action performed at Candlebark! He handled the whole show very well and was a pleasure all day. I would like to thank the organising committee for such a well run event and congratulate them for doing such an excellent job under such trying conditions. My thoughts are with you at this difficult time, as are I’m sure those of the entire equestrian community.
Congratulations again to the young riders I’ve mentioned as well as the others present at the competition on excellent sportsmanship and some great results. This event is great in how it provides a young rider award for every class which is a real incentive to compete and I hope it continues for many years to come.