Early Sunday morning and we were at Larkhill with the sun out and no wind, which I can tell you is a very rare occurrence at Larkhill. We have gone from wet weather gear and wellies to sun cream and fly repellent in a space of a week!
Last year when we were trying to qualify for the Mitsubishi Cup, sometimes I would come home from competing some days feeling rather disappointed or frustrated that either my competitions or training hadn’t gone to plan. I can remember coming home from dressage one day from West Wilts, where Blue hadn’t gone that well, the traffic on the way home was a nightmare and on nearly reaching our gate I got stuck with a car on our single track road and ripped the bumper of my lorry off! I really wasn’t a happy bunny, when I came in and sat down to have a cup of tea, I opened up Facebook and Hannah Francis’s Willberry blog popped up on my news feed. It was when she was having to decide whether or not to carry on with her Chemotherapy or stop completely knowing the outcome would not be great. I sat there and cried my eyes out and felt completely helpless that there was nothing anyone could do to help Hannah, yet she could write such inspiring blogs of hope and joy of her excitement of being able to sit back on her beautiful horse and ride once more. That gave me a right kick up the backside to enjoy every minute I get with my family and competing Blue. So now when I’m on my way to events feeling nervous or the day hasn’t gone to plan I think about Hannah and how she would love to be going the wrong way in a dressage test or knocking a pole down show jumping and it put things into perspective.
Today was one of those days and on my drive up to Larkhill, early in the morning, I had all sorts of things running through my mind, doubts of our ability, nerves that I needed I run, pressure I had put on myself to go well, I needed a clear round, could I still judge my pace Xc……………….. so I gave myself a talking not to worry, it really didn’t matter and most of all try to enjoy it.
After walking the Xc and show jumping I got Blue ready for dressage, she warmed up really nicely, we started trotting around the outside of the arena where she promptly jumped a clump of mowed grass! I took a deep breathe and tried to ignore her. The horn went and we started the test, beautifully straight down the centre line turned left only to find a monster at H! the rest of the test went really well, apart from my transition to canter between C & H, the monster was still there! I now don’t loose the plot if one mark goes down the drain and really try and concentrate on making the marks up on the other movements she does well. So I came out feeling quite pleased that we would get a reasonable score.
We changed for Show Jumping, warmed up over the practice fences and went in. I normally don’t find my dressage score out till the end as I don’t think it helps me either way. If however they are announcing the scores as you go in for show jumping I go and find out beforehand. It’s not nice hearing your score as you are just going over or heading for the first fence. However being a bit competition rusty and in a bid to get it over and done with I forgot to do this and so whilst heading for the second jump I heard my dressage score of 32.8%! My little chimp in my head was jumping up and down screaming WHAT, it wasn’t that bad, perhaps the whole section was marked high etc etc, so I promptly went and knocked the next fence down! Lesson learnt for next time.
Larkhill Cross Country
The Xc had been revamped at Larkhill this year and was looking great, around the start box is the only time Blue get a bit keen, we set of and she flew round clear and and bang on time, I do love the cross country. We ended up finishing 8th which wasn’t that bad considering we had a pole show jumping. Job done first BE of the year completed no major dramas and I didn’t fall off.
This week the course pictures for the Mitsubishi Cup were released at http://bit.ly/MMCup17XC they have not been dressed yet and I’m expecting them to look a lot different when we see them in the flesh. So this week me and the boys have made a few of them so Blue and me can practice over them at home. Maybe the Willis Brother will take me on as an apprentice?
My Take On The Double of Hedges
Bank holiday weekend, we had managed to catch up on a lot jobs around the farm so Alan and and the boys decided they would come and watch me at Bovington BE on the Sunday. Last time Alan came and watched me, although two years ago, I got the worst dressage score, had about 24 jumping penaltys and got eliminated XC! So part of me was dreading it but I was also looking forward to having someone with me for a change, I also needed to get over it before Badminton as I have had a lot of friends saying they are coming to watch which is lovely but terrifying at the same time. I decided that I needed to get my lucky socks out again and give them a spin, it seemed to help last year so I needed to get a pair bedded in before badminton, when I will definitely need them.
All Of My Lucky Socks Past & Present!
Again she warmed up lovely and came beautifully down the centre line only to do a massive spook at C, which I can only think was the sun gleaming of the white board! I don’t think I’ll ever really get what goes through her mind. The rest of the test was really good though. Because Blue is quite laid back I don’t think Alan fully believes me when I say she was a bit looky in her tests, but he watched us today and saw her spook for himself, he did say the rest of it looked really good, which from Alan is high praise, trust me.
Dressage at Bovington
It was quite weird having help at the lorry to hold Blue, change tack and grab things but I could get used to it. Show jumping went well and we went clear, on the way to the show jumping I had asked Alan to go to the secretary’s tent to get my dressage score, but they weren’t up thank the lord, but the commentators we very kindly relaying them when you finished your round anyway. Back to the lorry for another swift change and our favourite bit.
Bovington had done a great job in revamping and changing the direction of their course this year and I was really looking forward to it. Blue flew round and got home 4 second under the time for another double clear to leave us 4th on our dressage of 28.5% which I was pleased about and I had gone well with Alan and the boys watching me!
Cross Country phase
One more competition left before badminton and some Xc schooling arranged for later in the month with our friends daughter Alisha Coombes who has also qualified her horse Delhurens Upsey Daisy for the Grassroots final, Alisha is a fanstastic young rider who is forging a great career in eventing and has the talent to one day go round the proper big Badminton course, where I will then be able to say, I know her and have competed with her. We are both looking forward to the whole experience that the Mitsubishi Cup has in store for us.