Bradwall is my local horse trials (just 5min drive from my yard) and also one of my favourite events. This was our first pre-novice, having done the intro here two years ago. It’s typical that I get a dressage time of 14.58 for my local event — had it been three hours away you can guarantee I’d have been on at 9.15!!

The dressage felt ok, although as usual I found myself backing off him the moment I started trotting around the arena. I’ve yet to work out how to keep my focus between the warm up and the arena area – any tips gratefully received! Oh, and I went wrong. (I’m sure they only put 2-3 strides of walk at C in order to catch people out!!)

Warming up for the show jumping felt remarkably good. My horse has a track record of touching poles, probably more as a result of me than him to be fair! So today I was caught by surprised when the first thing he sprang on me was a stop at the first. He never usually stops, but I think the trade stands behind the first distracted him and I didn’t insist with my leg enough! Being a big arena I knew I would never get round within the time after this and sure enough picked up nine time penalties. What made it all the more annoying was that he then jumped clear (without touching a pole) for the first time in three years!! I gave him a pat as he jumped a beautiful round and all I can do is kick myself for the first!!

Before going cross-country I got my dressage score of 38, which would therefore have been 37 without the error of course. As this is only my second ever sub-40 mark, I was really pleased. I know it doesn’t sound much but I’m not here to set the world alight — I enjoy my eventing and I’m TRYING to get better.

On to the cross-country; typically I don’t have to worry about this phase, and today was no different. He jumped a cracking round, a bit slow at first so I put my foot down in the second half of the course, but there was no need because I got the second fastest time of the day without getting penalties. Approaching the brush at the end, he decided to spook at the novice fence in front of it (he thought he was jumping it and was disgusted to be told no!), so I had to kick on, resulting in a bit of a flyer over the last. When jumping in this way my horse tends to give it only enough air as he has to, and as the brush curves up at the sides this led to both of my feet hitting the brush (he’s 15.3hh and I’m 6’1″). The first I realised of this was as I pivoted forward, but luckily his momentum dragged my feet though, and I was home safely!

I finished on 51 — had I not had a stop at the first fence in the show jumping I would have been 8th. Was I pleased? Damn right I was; better dressage, no poles down show jumping and a great cross-country; all topped off by being safe. It’s obviously going the right direction — watch this space!