Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Hurrah!

I had good news yesterday!

I received the official communication that I had passed the second part of my course to become a dressage judge!! So the theory is all done now and I can concentrate on the hard part - the practical tests and actually doing some judging. Agh!


Cheshire Cat
Source
 So I'm now officially a 'Judge in training'!! (Yep, that's me, grinnin' like a Cheshire cat!!)

Hasta pronto!

Monday, 28 November 2011

A walk in the park

I live in a small town just to the south of Madrid. Like every other city that sits on the outskirts if a city, over the past few years the population has grown. But the good part is that it still has a small town feel to it.

On the far side of town is one of my favourite places to take a stroll - the park. It's one of those places that can be good to clear your head and blow the cobwebs away and it doesn't matter what frame of mind you're in. It always seems to make me feel better. There's nothing extraordinary about this park but there are plenty of footpaths to wander along




and there is a boating lake to sit and contemplate as the sunlight ripples across the surface.





There are also water features



sculptures



and resident birds.


And if all of this is not enough, there is a sports pavilion, all-weather football pitch, tennis courts, rock climbing, a bicycle circuit, childrens' play area and a horse-riding club!

Even if the outdoor life is not for you, it makes a nice route to the shopping centre which is 2 minutes away!

Hasta pronto!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

How to beat the blues

Step 1: Make two of the most chocolatey sponge cakes you've ever made.

Step 2: Sandwich them together and smother the outside with chocolate butter icing.

Best ever chocolate cake
Step 3: Grab a fork, cut a chunk of cake, sit back, eat and enjoy!


According to the recipe it's supposed to serve 10 - or one with a broken heart. You choose!

Hasta pronto!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Autumn in the city

It's been cold, grey and miserable for I don't know how many days now. Something that we not very accustomed to around these parts. So I thought that today I would visually cheer myself up with some lively autumn colours.

Blue sky on an autumn morning
These pictures were took recently at the Club de Campo Villa de Madrid (City of Madrid Country Club). I was hoping to avoid the horsey theme but it was while I was at a dressage show - so unavoidable I fear!

City buildings in the distance
The Country Club is not only for equestrian activities, there are also facilities for tennis, swimming, golf and even chess and bridge! The most curious thing about the place though is that it is only about 2 minutes away from the centre of Madrid. Who would have thought that 250 hectares of open-air sporting facilities could be found practically at the heart of a city?

Dressage
Jumping
Entry to the Country Club is by membership but when events are being held it is open to the public in general. The facilities can also be used on other occasions with a day-pass.

Cross-country
The atmosphere is quiet and serene and is a perfect setting to experience the autumn colours of the leaves on the endless rows of trees around the complex.


Hasta pronto!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Dressage judges course - Part II

(*dusting away cobwebs*)
That's much better - I couldn't see the screen for dust! I could easily be accused of abandoning my poor blog, but this is not the case. As you can see, it's whirring back into action. The reason for my absence? Well, would you believe me if I told you that it's taken me practically all week to get over the course that I went off to do the previous weekend? I don't remember having been so physically and mentally drained for, well, I can't remember the last time!

It was gruelling! We spent four days solid covering theory:
- The Training Scale: the basis for any judge, practically everything has something to do with the Training Scale!
- Gaits: what has to be looked for in each gait and how it refers to the Training Scale
- Movements: lateral movements, circles, etc and how they should be executed.
- Scoring: and how to do it, again based on the Training Scale.


- Equestrian Morpho-biomechanics: yep, morphology comes into it too! It doesn't really influence the judging part but it was interesting to find out how a horse is literally put together and how changes in the skeleton can affect a horses ability to be able to do certain dressage moves. This is especially true in high level dressage where a horse is expected to do a number of complicated moves with a high degree of collection. Some horses are just not built to do it!
- Dressage tests: for young horses, low level tests (initiation and promotion), high level tests, and freestyle tests. We looked at the levels of difficulty for each group and what was expected of horses and riders. And we also looked at how to score each test. Can you believe that I found it more difficult to score one of the lowest level tests than a Prix St Georges test? Sounds ridiculous but it's a lot more straight forward!
- Vocabulary: oh yes, there is a certain vocab that is used when scoring a dressage test - it's supposed to make it easier to make comments!

Each day was spent going through the theory and then, in the evening, we headed back to the hotel to study, usually until about 2am. I was up again at around 7.30am to continue studying on the way back to the course to be ready for the exam. We had written exams every day. We also had a practical exam on morphology and, of course, 2 practical exams where we actually had to judge some dressage tests. It's amazing how I managed to survive on very little sleep and not eating very well! I suppose that determination had a lot to do with it and I was determined to do the best I could on the course.

And, if that wasn't enough, the flight I had to get home on the Sunday evening was delayed 2 hours - so I didn't get home until 3am!! A real test of stamina! It was fortunate that I had Hubby waiting for me at the airport to whisk me off home.


So now all I have to do is wait to see if I passed all the exams. But it's not over even then, oh no! I still have another 9 practical tests to do as a 'judge in training'. I think that I did OK in most of them, but you never can tell! Fingers crossed!

Hasta pronto!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Monday. Humph!

 It's Monday. There is really nothing more to say - it's been cold, miserable, raining and grey aaaalll day. It's one of those days that you'd rather just stay snuggled up on the sofa wrapped in a blanket BUT you can't! There's too much to do and no way of getting out of it.

It's been a day of total  non-inspiration. I'm not sure if it's because my head's full of dressage rules and I'm getting tense about the forthcoming exams this week or if it's just the weather turning my mood as grey as the clouds.

The weekend was spent studying! Oh joy! It's very diificult to get back into a studying frame of mind when it's been a while (quite a while actually) since the last time I had to study. But slowly, slowly. And that's about it, not very exciting at all really.

'Go on, smile!'

I hope that the weekend was enjoyable for everyone else and Monday hasn't been too difficult!

Hasta pronto!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Another competition closer to being a dressage judge!

If you read the 'mystery' guest post earlier in the week then you would know that at the weekend I was at yet another dressage competition. If it seems like I spend practically all my weekends at competitions, it's probably because I do! I'm trying to get in as much practice as possible so that I won't have any difficulties when it comes to passing my course to be a dressage judge.

So at the weekend I made the most of the 2 day competition to do another practical test, this time as Competition Steward. I find it interesting to know what is going on around me when usually it's difficult to even be able to look any further than the edge of the arena. To be honest I didn't find the role of Steward as interesting as that of the judge but it was good as experience.

The Stewards' job is to make sure that the competition runs like clockwork, that every rider knows when they have to be in the arena and who they go in after. It's also the Steward's job to make sure that none of the horses are abused or mistreated in any way either in the warm-up area or in any other area of the competition zone, boxes, trailers, vans, etc.

Checking the flanks for any sign of injury
Abusing or mistreating a horse at any time is reason for elimination and the Steward is well within their rights to report anything to the President of the ground jury and Delegate for action to be taken against the offending person. The horses have also to be checked by the Steward on leaving the arena to make sure that the equipment abides by the regulations and that there is no sign of injury to the horse.

Lessons from the official Steward
I was very fortunate to be able to get to do this practical test at the weekend because Stewards' are normally only present at the National Championships and the highest level dressage competitions which are not held frequently. But at this competition more competitors were expected as it was really four different competitions being held simultaneously, so a Steward was appointed. The official Steward is also a candidate to become an International Steward so I was in very good hands!

Checking the bit on the double bridle - by touch!

I've more than completed the preliminary practical tests now and I've been studying the regulations again and the Training Scale - next week we have the second part of the theory course and I'd really like to pass!

Hasta pronto!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Riding Heroes! - *Guest post*

It is with pleasure that I introduce you to today's guest post, I hope that you enjoy it!

Last weekend we were in an unusual riding competition for 2 different things: The competition took place in an extraordinary place, El Club de Campo, in Madrid (the place needs another post just for itself!) and the 2nd thing is because at the same time that there was a National Dressage competition there was also a  Paradressage competition.


Wheelchair with bandages
It was the first time I had ever seen people with different kind of  physical or psychological disabilities on a horse.

This type of competition for obvious reasons has different rules that I didn't know and I was talking with the judges to go deeper into this "world".
Rider with no  movement in his legs.
Just to let you know some of them, there are different categories depending on the disability of the rider, they can use extra help like 2 whips, special saddles and bridles and even one spur on one leg and none on the other.
 
They are allowed to go in the arena with the instructor
But this is not what impressed me most. It was the fact that these brave people that have a disadvantage still try to fight againts the elements.


After watching this, you realize how lucky you are and why we should copy them and why we should smile more often and we should overcome those little daily silly things.

My dear friends, life is a matter of a few happy seconds, some of them have already passed and a lot of them are about to arrive.

Smile and enjoy your life because always somebody is looking after you!
Briefing between horsey and his fellow rider.
Thanks for reading! I hope that I'll be allowed to come back and post again soon.