Race Track to Dressage Ring

Well, we did it! We finally competed in our first Dressage competition a few weeks ago and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with how well the entire day went. I had this preconceived idea in my head that Nigel my OTTB was going to be an absolute nut bag! Mainly because this was his second outing since retiring from racing, and let’s just say his first outing which was for training purposes was not so great (yes I was THAT person with the crazy Thoroughbred).

Nigey says he’s a good boy!

The day started as any typical show day – Dark (5am dark), cold and nerve wracking! Not because I had to remember a test or perform in front of my friends and family, but because I kept having flashbacks of the first time out where I couldn’t stop circling Nigel in fear he was about to bolt off with me in tow. Even then he was scooting around the circle like a barrel horse about to take off! I guess it doesn’t help when you have a horse who’s registered name is Naughty Baby and everyone keeps joking “I hope he doesn’t live up to his name! Hehe”. Well, ME TOO! And thankfully, I had a nice Nigel at the comp and not a Naughty Baby!

We arrived to the equestrian grounds at 7am. My test wasn’t until 8.30am, but I wanted to get straight into it and lunge my crazy Thoroughbred before the other competitors started arriving. I mean, they don’t need to see my Naughty Baby doing doughies, ahmm I mean circle work on the lunge do they? This was surprise number 1 – Nigey was perfect on the lunge. Who was this horse? Where did these beautiful, balanced circles come from? I kept telling myself to hold on tight just in case! By this stage I was feeling fairly confident and jumped on to practice my test. There were a number of horses by this time and I definitely had no forgotten my rodeo horse from the first outing. But yet, no silly behaviour! I had a cool, calm and collected horse. A CALM OTTB, wow!

Warming up for our test before the big debut.

Soon enough it was time for my test, the Prep C in case you’re wondering (a simple walk/trot test). I walked Nigel over to the competition arenas and up to the judges car to introduce myself and Nigel aka Naughty Baby. I guarantee this judge has probably been there, done that.. but a horse called Naughty Baby? It’s like we’re all expecting the horse to confuse the white arena rail as a cavaletti and exit left at K. Anyway, the judge has a bit of a giggle while wishing me good luck and off I go, determined to squash the assumption that Nigey is a good “jumping” horse.

I can safely say, not only did I achieve my goal of not being eliminated for any unexpected departures from the arena, we actually scored a ribbon for 5th Place! We achieved a cool 66.25%. So I guess the moral of the story is, just because you have an ex-racehorse called Naughty Baby that sometimes thinks he’s a rodeo horse, doesn’t mean he can’t be a Nice Nigel when you ask!

Prep C Dressage Test.

Cover Photo by Christine Johnson.

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