Tammy Shepherd is a Remote Coach sponsored Rider from the Northern Territory in Australia. Her first blog for us shares where she’s at at the moment and explains a little about how difficult it can be to keep a horse in work and cared for in an area which experiences a true ‘wet’ season! Enjoy.
I can’t believe its 2014 already. I have so many plans and goals that I am not sure which one to start with. I know my main one is to compete under saddle in dressage and hacking with my amazing new horse Rocky (Artistry). Rocky is an 18 years young, 15.3 7/8 black/brown thoroughbred gelding.
I didn’t reach my goals for competing under saddle in 2013 with my mare. We did however compete in led classes which was far less stressful and made it fun which I keep telling myself if very important. I also came to the realisation that if I wanted to continue riding I would have to find myself another horse that would be a willing partner.
Early June 2013 I literally bumped into an old friend who I hadn’t seen in years and we started talking. Turns out she had an old thoroughbred gelding in her back yard and she offered him to me to try. It was love at first sight. I ended up bringing Rocky home with me.
My hopes skyrocketed. I had that sense of excitement s (and fear) again that I could do this; I could ride and eventually compete under saddle again. We encountered a number of medical set backs with Rocky’s teeth and old injuries but eventually we competed in our first ever dressage test in early September. It had been 4 years since I had competed in dressage and I was over the moon with how we went. We didn’t win but I had so much fun with an amazing score of 61.89% and a 5th place, our first ribbon.
Rocky developed a bowel obstruction in October and therefore has some time off to recover which took a little longer than expected due to his age and the climate conditions here in Darwin.
Jan 2014 rolled around and I made a list of things that I wanted to achieve this year with my riding. I spend a whole morning working out my lesson plans incorporating Fiona’s Remote Coach downloads to help me and a fitness programme for the both of us. I was determined this year that I was going to do it the right way.
I entered Rocky into the Australia Day Dressage Competition on the 26th Jan. We only entered the Prep A test as the weather has not been kind to us. I am located in Humpty Doo, Darwin, Northern Territory the monsoon and a Cyclone scare dampened my plans. With nearly 40 inches of rain in the first 3 weeks of January and temperatures on average 38 degrees the only thing my horses were going to do was stand under the fans. It’s not so much the heat but the humidity that seems to do most of the damage to the horses up here. I am so paranoid that I am going to over heat or cook my horses in the heat that I tend to err on the side of caution. I was only able to achieve 3 rides before the comp and was a bit apprehensive as to how he would behave with no real work.
I spent Saturday finding my riding gear and cleaning tack which had grown 2 inches of furry green mould all over it from all the wet weather and humidity.
I didn’t sleep very well on the Saturday night, and started the sabotaging self-talk of all the things that were going to go wrong tomorrow. I woke early and felt sick. I was going to scratch from the event; my wonderful partner looked at me and said “Really, what are you worried about?”. Got to love them. I told myself that if Rocky didn’t load 1st time it was a sign and that I wouldn’t go. Well he took one look at the float and walked right up. It was only 8am and we were ready to go even though my test was at 10.07 and the event was only 30 minutes away.
Rocky unloaded beautifully and started eating the grass straight away, I plaited him up even thought it wasn’t required as I needed something to occupy my brain instead of thinking of what was going to go wrong. The rain had stayed away for a couple of hours and it was so hot and muggy at 9am. I was starting to panic and couldn’t remember my test. I was then told that heaps of entries had scratched and that I was on in 10 minutes. OMG no time to warm up, I saddled up and mounted, I was shaking all over, one of my friends led us over to the Gear Steward for gear checking as I think she had noticed how stressed I was and that I was going to chicken out from competing.
It all happened so fast, I entered the indoor arena at B and headed down to C where the judges were sitting to show my number, and the bell rang, I remember someone yelling out “BREATH” and I took a deep breath, (I think I was blue in the face) Rocky was AMAZING, he looked after me and before I knew it the test was over. Nothing bad had happened and I realised that I was the one holding us back. I had a great day and we scored a 59.78% and a third place ribbon.
So it’s upwards from here, we have another dressage test in Feb and this time it will be a Preliminary test. I will conquer my nerves and this year is going to be an AMAZING year.