Chapter Thirty Three – A bit of a squeeze

Most Friday mornings, there is a brief window of child/work-free time, where my friend and I can meet for a coffee and a catch up (and of course housework avoidance). Now I have heard about these coffee dates – so I know they’re not an urban myth – but I’m not sure that we’re doing it right. So just for some clarity, my morning went something like this;

  • Did the school run – in my jodhpurs, long socks and questionable footwear.
  • Cleaned the back yard of dog poo, so I could reverse the car in and hook up the horse trailer.
  • Loaded my tack into the boot.
  • Put the ‘decoy’ pony on the trailer.
  • Stood for 15 minutes trying to persuade Tag to join him.
  • Got the lunge whip out, making loading instantly successful.
  • Swiftly removed the pony – now we’re running late.
  • Put filter coffee into a travel mug, grab a cereal bar and we’re all good to go!

So what’s wrong with that? Well not a lot, except that I’m exhausted writing about it never mind doing it. And in true horsey girl style, we didn’t stop at that. I rung my friend to let her know that I was running late, and guess what, so was she. Unfortunately this meant that I would arrive at the arena (we had hired) before her, but she had the ‘metal cheeked bit’ in her car that I wanted to try out on Tag – I know how brave, a bit change! But luck would have it, we had a plan. She had pulled in for diesel at a garage on the (busy) main street of a town I was passing through, so the plan was that I would slow down, put down the passenger window, she would run from the petrol station and throw the item of tack through the open window and I would speed off, without causing traffic chaos or being arrested for being some sort of ‘tack mule’. Goodness knows what people thought we were up to, but I was laughing so hard I couldn’t actually see, so I failed to notice any disapproving stares. And I got the bit.

Our coffee and a catch up, also involved us frantically practicing our dressage tests before our planned competition, but it suited us just fine, and Tag seemed to take to the new bit well, so all in all it was a good, if a bit crazy, morning.

So the day of the dressage competition arrived and as I got ready in the morning and pulled on the obligatory white jodhpurs, my daughter came into inspect me and said, “well, they JUST fit.” Now to be honest, by 6pm that night, I have to admit that they were pinching slightly, and the imprint of them might look like I’m wearing them for a few more days…. But when you’re over 40 and the mere mention of eating seems to hold a calorific content, I’m going to take “they just fit” as a win. Something we didn’t do at the dressage, but it was a good day nevertheless.


Of course I was slightly later than I had planned to be (is there a pattern forming here?!) so didn’t have much time to warm up for my first test, a prelim one. And if I had a penny for every time the judge wrote ‘tense’on my score sheet, I would buy a new horse. But we got through it and as I left the ring post-test to a row of sympathetic/pitiful/questioning eyes, I knew one of the ringside judges would have to comment, so I braced myself. And as I studied the novice test in the hope that some of it would sink in – so I wouldn’t have a ‘tense’ horse as well as sat-nav issues – the silence was broken.

“Young horse?”

“No, ex-racer.”

“Oh, I see, he will be nice.”

Mmmmmm. Ok. Not really sure where to put that comment, or if that was even the end of it? Surely there was more. ‘He will be nice when…. you sell him, put bows in his hair, let someone else ride him?’ Oh the joys of it all. But the judge did think he was nice and yes he is behind the vertical and yes he does need to relax (that was him relaxed) but it was more fun than hoovering.

So I carried on and did the novice test and I was pleasantly surprised. Now we were still second last, but I did get one ‘8’ for my entry and centre line, but the scores dropped a bit after that. Could I have done a novice test on him a year ago? Probably, but it wouldn’t have had the same progressive feel that the novice test did, in other words he was more than ready, we want to do it again and we learned lots.

It was a very cold afternoon and the chicken noodle soup and sandwiches went down a treat before my daughter trotted down the centre line to sixth place and I was so pleased for her. The pony and her have a lovely partnership and will hopefully go on to do much more.

For me and Tag all I want to do is keep going while the weather is allowing us. From previous experience, if the horse is sound, you have diesel and there is no ‘red’ weather warning (yellow is fine), then you should go. So we’ll keep trotting (medium) towards the mayhem of xmas and look forward to more dressage and white jodhpurs that pinch just a little bit more.

#dressageteam #ledbyan11yearold #iwantherpony #amitoobig #onlyinmywhitejodhpurs


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