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Rose and Thorn – 2018

Written by Andrea Parker

And just like that another year is almost over. Rather than doing a recap of the whole year, I’ve decided to take a leaf out of the page of my favourite equestrian podcast‘s book ‘Heels Down Happy Hour‘ and share my Rose and Thorn for the year.

If you too are an avid HDHH listener you’ll already know how rose and thorn works. If you not here’s a quick overview – the rose is your highlight, while the thorn is your low light.

The Thorn

I’ve always been one to get the bad out of the way first, so lets talk about the thorn of 2018.

Those of you that have been following us for a while will remember that on the way to our first comp of the year Nonie suffered an injury. Normally a brilliant traveller she started scrambling in the float on this trip. If you’ve been lucky enough not to experience this, then let me just tell you it is truly horrible. The sound as your horse starts to loose their balance and struggle to regain it will have your heart in your throat.

This rather bad scrambling in the float resulted in Nonie straining some of the muscles in her back and rump. We have a great equine body worker who was integral in helping Nonie recover, however we were still restricted to riding straight lines for a good month.

When I was able to bring her back into full work the lovely lightness that we had worked on so hard in the previous year was seemingly gone. I had a few months of really frustrating rides where I felt as though I was banging my head up against the wall. We were struggling with even the most basic of things.

And so it was right back to basics we went. Sometimes you have to rebuild your foundations before you build something great, which brings me to my rose.

The Rose

This year has been an eventful one, so I feel that there are many things that could have made the top spot. But the thing that takes the cake is a seemingly simple one that came from our months of struggles and hard rides.

“Sometimes what seems like a major speedbump is actually a much needed springboard to improvement”

The challenges that we were facing were likely the result of some areas that we had brushed over in our training previously. With the help of our coaches we went right back to basics. Did I have a good reaction forward off my leg? Did Nonie move sideways off my leg whilst staying straight when asked? Is she bending correctly through her body to allow her to work within the lateral movements? Does she maintain a light contact through this work? Can she stay straight?

One of the biggest things I have noticed about Nonie with the help of my coaches is that when things get hard she gets crooked. She pushes my body so that it makes it harder for me to apply my aids and ride her straight. So my task was (and still is) to be super aware of exactly where Nonie’s body is. And what do you know once she is straight the lateral work is far easier.

Over the last few months we have started to reap the rewards of the groundwork that we have put in place all year. She is beautifully light in the contact, straighter in her body and the quality of her paces has increased considerably. So this my friends is my rose for the year!


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About the author


Andrea Parker

Andrea is an Adult Amateur dressage rider who competes at medium level on her 13-year-old mare Mon Ami. Andrea shares her journey through the equestrian world on her blog The Sand Arena Ballerina and is working on an equestrian podcast called Equestrian Pulse.

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