Solar Systems, William Fox Pitt & Storm Doris

At last the sun has come out and the daffy are shooting up, the horses have all enjoyed several days out without their rugs on, which turned them into fire breathing snorting dragons! Blue made some shapes out in field I didn’t think she had in her, she also managed various flying changes and managed to lap my husbands horse, who is particulary quick. I will bear this in mind when we next go Cross country, as she likes to just plop along and given the choice would prefer to walk between fences or spook at the fence judges.   

So we have continued with our normal lessons of flatwork and jumping which have all been going along nicely. We have also had our first trip this year to do some cross country training at Tweseldown. The last Xc we had done was towards the end of 2016 at Littleton Horse Trials, in the BE100 when she absolutely flew round and gave me a great feeling, so in my head I was still thinking I was at the same sort of level. When I started to warm up at Tweseldown by cantering round between the fences I realised I was a feeling a bit rusty and some of the fences looked rather daunting! But after popping some smaller roll tops and blowing the cobwebs away we were back to normal and she gave me the same feel. I’m am so lucky that she is so genuine and trustworthy, I’m not the most stylish rider but if I say we are going over the fence she will try her best to get us to the other side, regardless what I look like.

After washing, plaiting and loading up the lorry followed by making a solar system out of an old Nike shoe box and some polystyrene balls with William (my youngest son) for his science homework, I had another glance over my two test I was going to be doing the next day for combined training at Sparsholt college. Changing tack in between doing two tests and two rounds of show jumping, on my own, was like a military manoeuvre! Blue felt great though and produced two fab clear rounds and two dressage scores of 68% which wasn’t too bad. I’ve been struggling with my show jumping lately as getting the longer distances inbetween doubles with Blue is pretty tricky as she has a pony stride and is also quite lazy. It’s something I need to address and as always with eventing once you improve one phase there is always another one that needs your attention, so I was relieved and pleased to have left them all up and kept a good rhythm.

This weekend was a once in a lifetime, kind of thing for me and was really exciting. I got a late minute email to say I had a place on William Fox Pitt Eventing clinic, to have a flat lesson followed by a jumping lesson. I gave Blue a good wash and a tidy up, loaded the lorry with all the gear and we were off bright and early Saturday morning to his yard in Dorset. I arrived and parked up with plenty of time so I could watch the lesson before me. Luckily it was indoors, as it was rather windy courtesy of storm Doris!! I went and got tacked up and walked Blue round their large indoor stable block, where we were met and welcomed into the indoor school.

It seemed slightly weird to be riding round with William Fox Pitt, the legend that I have watched ride round Badminton and also watched compete at the olympics, on the telly, talking to us and watching us warm up. He was lovely and friendly and made us all feel at ease. I was doing my best to get Blue going nicely and warmed up, Blue on the other hand was oblivious to the fact that WFP was watching us and thought that the loud speakers in the corners, the poles along the long side, along with the Jeep banners on the walls should be avoided at all costs! After a little while she settled in and got on with job and did some nice work. We did a lot on transitions up and down, circles and centre lines, which are all pretty important and my level.

In the afternoon I got to spend and hour with Jackie Potts, she took us round the yard and gave us a great talk on how they manage the yard, the horses, what they feed, shoes and studs, recovery after competition and lots of other funny story’s about her career being William’s head girl. She was so lovely to meet and gave us plenty of tips and good advice.

Sunday was another cold and windy day, Blue was not impressed with me in the morning when I put her travel boots on, again, washed her poo stained cheeks and led her to the lorry. I again arrived early so I could watch the class before me jump in the large outdoor arena which had an array of show jumps and Xc fences all placed on difficult lines and dogleg angles. William gave us a little talk on riding Xc and our partnership with the horse and then we started doing a few fences followed by a course of jumps which envolved lots of difficult lines that made you have to really think and react quickly. Blue went well but did feel a little tired, it could have been the cold windy weather, as I know I was in bed pretty early Sunday night, or else I was trying to ride a bit to perfect instead of my normal flapping elbows and pony club kicking that I normally do when required! We had a great day and learn’t some new jump exercises to practice. We also got to have lunch with William and Alice, once I had tucked Blue up in the lorry.

After all that excitement I have our first ODE in a weeks time, which I’m quite nervous and excited about at the same time, to see if we’ve still got it and if not what I need to sort out. It will be good to finally get back in the swing of things.  Our first BE is booked and accepted at Tweseldown in couple of weeks, hopefully the rain will stop and events won’t get cancelled! It won’t be long until the entry’s open for the Mitsubishi Cup, I can’t wait!!!!

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