When I first started doing eventing, I use to really hate the dressage phase as I was pretty crap at it, but after hundreds of pounds spent on lessons and generally just plugging away at it I can honestly say I really don’t mind it now. I joined BD because it’s easier for me to go in the week to compete, but I have got into it quite a bit now and try to compete regulary at it and be competitive. I received an email from BD to say that I had attained enough scores to enter the Petplan Regionals, so thought that would be a good thing to do and it was a week before my BE100 at West Wilts so that would help me prepare for that. I don’t get the nerves I get when going BE because it doesn’t really matter how I do as it’s just training (that I want to win!) so I’m always slightly more relaxed about it.
I only had the one Novice Bronze class to do and I wasn’t on till 3.40 ish, I arrived in plenty of time, to go and watch a few go round and to check what arena we were in. There were plenty of flower pots surrounding the arena, Oh Joy! I thought to myself what ever happened I wasn’t going to let her dictate what she was going to spook at. We’ve been working a lot, at home, on teaching me to be quicker and more consistent with my riding. I was last to go, she had warmed up really well, so we set of doing our lap around the outside of the arena waiting for the bell. On cue she started to bend like a banana every time we trotted past a pot of flowers! When I was down the other end of the arena, to the judge, I growled at her to pack it in, took a deep breath and put her into shoulder in for the next lap so she couldn’t do it. The bell went and we set of down the centre line with conviction. She went really well and only quivered twice down the long sides, which I don’t think the judges could see.
Apparently the top ten had to come back for mounted prize giving, which was within ten minutes of me finishing my test, I had put her in the lorry and then walked back round to the secretary’s to see how I had done. We had won with a score of 69% I was quite surprised to have won, as the class was a big one. I ran back round to the lorry and chucked Blues tack on, she was not impressed as I’m sure she thought I was doing another test. It felt very odd to be leading everyone into the ring, I’ve never done that before, we got presented with with our Rosette and then did a lap of honour. They blasted out ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” to canter round too, I was chuckling away to myself. My friends that come with me in the lorry know I sometimes have a bit of sing song to ABBA on the way to and from events but I’ve never cantered round the ring to it.
Five Minutes Of Fame in the Horse & Hound
On the Monday after dressage whilst sitting in the kitchen, having a cuppa with my friend Kate, my phone went it was the H&H asking for some info on Blue. I babbled on about Blue and what I do with her, whilst pointing at my phone and mouthing “Its the H&H” in excitement, to Kate who was staring at me wondering what the hell I was going on about.
So Ive learnt some more things over the past few weeks mainly you never stop learning with horses, hindsight is a wonderful thing after the event! West Wilts BE100 was my next event and our first step up a level this year. I had late times which I don’t really like as you hang around in the morning waiting to leave, giving you more time to think about it. I arrived at West Wilts in plenty of time to walk the Xc and watch a few dressage tests. The cross country looked within our capabilities but the time looked rather tight, my first minute maker was at fence 5 which was a bit of run. Anyway it was dressage first, she warmed up well and apart from trying to spook on entry to the centre line the test went well, we got a 27, which I was happy with. When I got my sheet at the end of the day I had even got my first 9!!!!! Typically it was for my transition from trot down to walk (Blues favourite pace)!
I was feeling quite nervous about the show jumping, I’m not sure why as we’ve been going ok at it lately. The warm up arena was rammed and If I’m honest I did feel slightly intimidated by all the big horses surrounding me. They all used massive warm up fences and I had to wait for it to empty a bit before I could alter the jumps to get warmed up. We went in and started, she was jumping ok and then I went and lost my stirrup after fence five, I only just got it back three stride before the double and therefore had lost a bit of momentum and took a pole with us. She jumped the rest fine with no time faults. I had bought new stirrup the week before, the same cheese grater ones I have on my dressage saddle, but had forgot that they were slightly longer than my old ones. I needed to put some more holes in my leathers on my jumping saddle, but I couldn’t find my hole punch in my lorry and thought it would be alright just this time! WRONG!
I put our number down for Xc but unfortunately there was a hold on course for sometime, so there was a fair bit of waiting around. I had set my watch and then we were off, now in hindsight I would have started off in a good rhythm slightly faster than normal but just a good rhythm and stick to it, get round and complete. But what I did was try to be competitive and take off at a fast pace trying to make the time! It felt awful and I’m sure Blue was thinking what the hells going on! We were meeting the fences all wrong and then I was kicking the strut out inbetween the fences, my watch was bleeping at me way before my minute makers which was rattling me. We got round to the third last, as I was kicking on towards it I thought I just better take a check as it was a trekhaner and I thought she would probably have a quick look at it before take off, she did take a look as suspected and promptly stuck the brakes on and slid straight into the bottom of the ditch! My watch was going off bleeping like mad and Blue was completely rattled as she’s never stopped cross country before. So I retired and walked back to the lorry cursing myself for being so stupid. The wheels had fell off slightly but we were both ok and I’ve learnt that I need to try to gradually pick up her pace over the next few events but so that we stay in a good rhythm, I also need to forget about being competitive.
Since West Wilts I’ve done some show jumping and been Xc training and she was fine, even over the trekhaners! So all back to normal. I thought it was best to withdraw from Rackham BE100 and do a bit more training. I’m booked in for some show jump training with Eric Smiley in July and I’m also doing the Hunt Relay with the New Forest Hunt team at Barbury Castle BE, which should be good fun. Barbury and The Festival of Eventing at Gatcombe are events that I really enjoy going to, just to watch and do a tad of shopping. I have also entered Dauntsey BE90 as I don’t think we are ready for Dauntsey BE100 yet, I love it there it’s a proper good cross country. After that the plan is to do another 100 and leave the watch in the lorry!