Richard looks back on 2016 as very much a training year for him and Tommy and that included not missing out on all the ups and downs of competitive riding.
Richard continues.
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 I started 2016 with a plan to push myself a bit more than I had in the last few years as I had decided to keep my focus on dressage.  In August 2015 I moved my horse, Wee Tom, to my coach’s yard Lisa Morris, who would then able to work much closer with both of us.  The initial plan for 2016 was to move up to Elementary level on 'Dressage Anywhere' and get Tommy out to some unaffiliated competitions. Our results were mixed both in performance and emotions.

In April I took Tommy to a local dressage competition where we scored the worst mark I have ever got (38%).  This was not quite how I had hoped the year would start for us.  But thankfully I still had the Dressage Anywhere competitions to work on at home.  I found these really  useful and important and would reccomend that riders don't over look or go and discover this aid.  If you are having problems in getting a good score going to a show then the Dressage Anywhere online competitions ceratinly help you to continue your training and push yourself forwards and contune monitoring your improvements with out you feeling negaitive simply because you failed to get a good score out at a competition.
tommy dressage
By the Autumn I had qualified for the Online Championships at both Novice and Elementary levels, unfortuantely we didn't manage to get a top 3 placing in either class in the championships, disappointing as our performances didn't reflect all the hard work we had put in through the year, this said the level of competition was very high and our scores were really ok.
 With the end of the year approaching fast we hadn't managed to win anything and I was convincing mysel that it was the participation as winning isn’t everything although I have to admit it would have been fun if we had. Things started chaging in December, better late than never, something had clicked in Tommy, we were working so much more consistently.  

We went to the BEDE dressage qualifier at Brakenhurst College Equestrian Centre and Tommy put in a strong performance, way beyond out 38% in April, resulting in us qualifying for the finals at Belton Horse Trials in the Prelim class on 68% and narrowly missing out in the Novice class with a score of 65%.  

I feel that this was a good confirmation of the plan that Lisa and I had been working towards all year, using the online dressage competitions to keep us moving upwards and forwards even when we weren't getting good placements in competitions at the beginning of the year.

 And so 2016 came to a close.  The Dressage Anywhere league results were in and Tommy and I finished in 4th place in the rider league and a win which really wasn't such a bad personal performance, enhanced even further by our yard Dressage Anywhere team, winning the Team Challenge.  It has been so much fun competing as a team through out the year, every one helping and supporting each other on something we could all work on together.  I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to compete with and look forwards to defending our Team Challenge place in 2017.

 Next week find out all about Richard’s plans for 2017
Do bad scores in dreassge knock your confidence 
Dressage tips and advice