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Wrapping Up 2021...

In this quieter ‘downtime’ at the end of our cycle of events, and with just a week to go until we get started on our 2022 season, it’s time to reflect back on the past year.

It’s been a year of ups and downs for many – perhaps more so than 2020, as we’ve all had to find ‘a new normal’. We’ve certainly had our own rollercoaster ride with MiniD and it’s taken my focus away from Demi Dressage a little more than I’d like this year. But we’ve ticked along, adding some new tests into the calendar, and riding out (pardon the pun!) the highs and lows of running a small business alongside challenging global, family and personal health problems, and just ‘normal life’ – something I’m sure many, if not all of you, can identify with.

Our Supported Riders have had very different journeys over the year, with Ioan and Blaze having a fantastic season growing in both confidence and ability with Demi Dressage. You can check out their final blog post and summary of the year as a Supported Rider here:

Whilst poor Ioan sadly succumbed to a non-riding related injury in the final month, I think it’s safe to say he fully embraced his year as a Demi Dressage Supported Rider, and we’re delighted to have been part of this super little partnership’s progress (I definitely have developed quite a soft spot for Baby Blaze!) I am confident once Ioan is back in the saddle they will smash their goal of a Blue test before very long because he has consolidated his riding at the lower levels so well now.

Sadly, the year proved rather more challenging for our younger two Supported Riders, Arly and Boo, and Lily and Biscuit. Both entered a couple of tests early on in the season, but ‘life’ has very much got in the way since – and again, I think that’s something most of us can identify with! The most important thing is that both are still riding and enjoying their ponies when they can – it’s easy to get disappointed when plans for the year don’t come to fruition, but I think we owe it to ourselves (and our ponies) to accept these things happen and sometimes we have to shift our focus a bit.

The year has been similarly tumultuous for MiniD, who got off to a great start in the spring with a win in a Pony Club walk/trot online dressage test on Maisie (sadly we still don’t know how she did on Tangle in her first Pony Club canter test, as we never received the sheet back!) and she has started to tentatively make the move from 11.3hh Tangle – her soulmate in pony form - to 14hh Maisie over the year. She’s continued to have a lot of fun with Tangle, including our first ‘stay away’ Pony Club Camp, her first endurance ride, and taking on much more independent responsibility for the care of both ponies, which she loves. The good times have been great, but she’s had her usual ups and downs with her confidence in herself and her riding: the positive news is that she is starting to learn how to manage herself through the more difficult times.

Whilst the original plan was for her to fully take over the ride on Maisie by the time the year was out, she has decided she wants to do another season with Tangle, and so we continue in the Quest To Crack Their Canter! Hopefully, she will get back to riding tests more regularly next year as in the past it definitely helped her both in confidence and in the quality of her riding as she focussed on the differing challenges each test brought. She is desperate to work her way up through Blue to Red, but her increased difficulties with balance and coordination leave her confidence and abilities in her canter work very inconsistent – not helped by it also being Tangle’s weakest pace! So we have backed off canter work for now, and in the meantime she is once again enjoying helping me with the Weekly Winter Challenges, which are a perfect little confidence boost for her.

I’d like to round off by summing up how our four little riders have been the perfect example of ‘life and riding with kids and ponies’ this year – it doesn’t always go to plan, but we’re here at Demi Dressage to help smooth the journey, whether you are strongly competitive and have a clear goal in sight, or you need some direction or a confidence boost to help you on your way with your riding.

On that note, here’s a final thought from Ioan’s mum – I hope those of you who have followed Demi Dressage for a while but not quite been brave enough to make that competitive leap will take heart from the very different journeys our Supported Riders have all had and remember that we are here above all to boost confidence in young riders at the very beginning of their riding journey. There’s absolutely no reason to worry that you might not be ready or ‘good enough’ to compete in dressage – come and join our family!

“So, to anyone reading who hasn’t come across Demi Dressage, or who is wondering about whether to take the plunge, all we can really say is “go for it”. Hand on heart, you won’t find a lovelier, more supportive group of people out there to introduce children to dressage in a fun way. Every single score sheet has been positive and constructive, every single test has been fun, and we’re champing at the bit (literally!) to get back out there, for the Weekly Winter Challenges and the new season of tests. There really is something for everyone, from that first nervous, wobbly foray down the centre line in walk, to Prelim level, bridging gaps, building knowledge and confidence, and giving you the chance to have a go, whatever your experience and whatever your set-up. Everyone involved understands, and has been there, when it comes to children and ponies, and the quirks, pitfalls, wobbles and triumphs that comes with our wonderful hobby/sport/passion.” – Baby Blaze and Her Boy, Nov ‘21

Some notes for your diary:

Our annual competition cycle starts once again with the Christmas Stocking Dressage running over the Christmas holidays. This has a provisional closing date of Sunday 22nd Jan 2022, and tests will be uploaded to the website shortly for your to get practising!

Our Weekly Winter Challenges continue through December and January, and are ideal for younger, novice or nervous riders as they are non-competitive – no pressure, just fun!

We have lots of newly put together Welcome Pack Gift Bundles to add to the website this week – all of these can be purchased with a Gift Voucher for a future Demi Dressage test entry as an ideal Christmas gift.

MiniD has been working hard on her pole work, and we hope to put together a series of training blogs geared towards child riders and ponies for you to enjoy from the beginning of December.

The 2022 competition cycle will broadly follow that of previous years, with closing dates to be confirmed, but there will be a dressage competition every month from February through to August, followed by our Annual September Photo and Video show. These vents will take young riders on a progressive journey through a variety of school movements with child-friendly themed tests, and, of course, rosettes and sweets to all who take part!

Full details of all Demi Dressage events can be found on our website, under the Events section.

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