What a difference a little bit of sun makes!

On Wednesday we finally made it to some cross-country schooling (it was our fourth attempt due to the recent poor weather). We went up to Somerford Park in Cheshire and had a lesson with four-star Dutch event rider Andrew Heffernan.

Sara (Donner Sara B) was jumping everything quite nicely but a little bit free. Therefore we really worked on canter, gathering her back up and then jump so that she was together for the more technical fences

We finished up jumping through the water complex. Neither Sara or I are big fans of jumping into water ever since our first go a few years ago. In this instance Sara ballooned over the fence, I came flying out of the side door, set off my air jacket and Sara galloped off into the wild blue yonder. It took 20 minutes and two vehicles to catch her. After a couple of stops I finally got a grip, unhooked my air jacket (I was not wasting another canister landing in water) and finally we got over it.

On Thursday I thought it might be a good idea to look over the test for the event we were due to compete at over the weekend. It was the new BE97 test.

Normally you can guarantee the first movement of a test: “A, enter and go down the centre line, C track…”. Apparently this rule no longer applies! The new test did take a little bit of getting my head around, as you trot as far as X up the centre line and then turn left to H. We ran through it once in the arena and then headed to the field where I have set up a dressage arena in the bumpy corner so I can practice my tests on grass.

When I got in from riding I went to the BE website to check my start times for the upcoming event at Kelsall Hill. We had an 8.30am dressage (I always get early times at Kelsall but then to be fair it is only 10 minutes away so it is only to be expected). I walked the cross-country course on Friday. The course was bold as always and the ground was perfect. I finally managed to get my cross-country app on my phone to work and it positioned the minute markers for me.

I got up at 5.45am on Saturday. The sun was already out and there was no way that this competition was going to be abandoned — at last!

Warming up for dressage Sara felt fab and she did a good test. She was slightly long in her frame at points in her trot work but overall I was very happy. The showjumping was twisty and there was an oxer to a vertical running slightly downhill to try and encourage you to tip a pole. Sara jumped a fab clear without so much as a rattle so it was then on to the cross-country.

I had decided to jump every fence as if it was a technical fence (like we had in training) just to get into the habit. Sara responded to every half halt and leg squeeze. We were slightly behind the time at the two minute marker so added a little more leg on the open sections and came home clear with five seconds to spare. I heard over the loud speaker on the way back to the lorry park that I have a 24.3 (75.7%) dressage and had gone into the lead.

Living so close we decided to take Sara home so she could have a little play in the field and then head back to the competition.

Continued below…


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Kelsall now have live scoring this meant that I was glued to my phone checking to results to see if anyone had gone ahead of me. I arrived back at the sectaries’ tent to find them setting out for the prize-giving. I had a quick look at the score board; Sara and I had held on to the lead to win by just over two penalties. This meant a very quick run back up the hill to grab my kit for the prize-giving. This is only my second ever BE win and to win on home soil at an event that I love so much is very special.

On Sunday Sara had a well-deserved rest day out in the field, however I was back up early again heading back to Kelsall but this time as a dressage steward. Mum and I always try to volunteer for a day at each of the spring and autumn events. I think it’s good to give back to the sport that has given me so much and it really makes you appreciate all the hard work the volunteers do for you to enjoy your sport.

Just one week to go until Badminton! See you all very soon.

Love Carrie (and Sara)