Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Sometimes the Smallest Competitions Are the Most Interesting...

By Kc2610 @kc2610

Sometimes the smallest competitions are the most interesting...

Leonie getting ready

Today after I finished riding Seb, Leonie asked me if I wanted to come to a competition with her this afternoon. Of course I jumped at the chance. I have never seen Leonie compete even though I've been training with her for three years, so have always been interested to see how she warms her horses up, especially since I can draw comparison to their work at home.
I was told it was only a small local show, that was a bit 'alternative' with little ponies running around everywhere. So I envisioned something similar to interschools or pony club. Well, when we got there there was about 15 times as many trailers and lorries as there would be at a local competition in the UK and Australia.

Sometimes the smallest competitions are the most interesting...

Literally warming up in a field...

I would also describe the show as 'agricultural', as it was basically a field with a couple of arenas plonked on it with some trees. In one of these arenas there was jumping, and in the other was the dressage tests. All warm-ups were done on the grass in a marked off area, even the dressage. The last time I went to a competition where we rode on grass was back in show pony days, and these days I can't imagine many riders I know would accept having to warm up in a field. But as Leonie said "you just get on with it, if you don't like it you don't come". I love this humble view of the sport, that is why I love Leonie, she is so refreshing in a sport that can be so fickle and flakey.
As with most German competitions, the crowd was not short of numbers. In true German style there was the beer tent, the bratwurst tent and the ice-cream cart. That's all we need! There were wild ponies with kids just out for the fun, and some pretty talented horses out there too. Everybody was just there to enjoy it though which was really nice to see. It was realllllly hot and I think everyone was working on their tans, especially me. You couldn't get me in the shade if you tried, these legs of mine WILL be brown by the time I leave!!
An interesting thing about the dressage at these small competitions is that they give the whole test an overall mark out of 10. So no individual movements are marked, the judges just look at it as a whole at give 5.5, or 6.7 or even 8 out of 10. This is such an efficient way (Germans again!) of judging when the competition is small and not much money or effort can be spent on test sheets, writers, scorers etc. We all do it, we watch a test and say "that was a 64% test", so in this case the rider would just get 6.4. Simple!
Sometimes the smallest competitions are the most interesting...
Sometimes the smallest competitions are the most interesting...

It was really good to watch Leonie ride. She didn't do much in the warm-up, it was a clear indication that all the work had been done at home so all she had to do was make sure he was warm and supple, and in front of her leg and listening. That doesn't really require 45 minutes of work. She is a brilliant test rider, as expected, and keeps absolutely clock-work rhythm all the way through. She sets up and finishes every movement, and makes it look so simple. I would definitely love to watch her a competitions more often!

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