After closely watching the weather for the past week, I was so happy that the Atherstone PC were still running their ODE at the Bramcote Army Barracks. I had Ballet in the Open (BE Nov equiv) and Spanner in the Novice (BE90 equiv).
Having been at uni all week, the horses had only been lunged since Sunday – NOT ideal! All this bad weather has meant not a lot of schooling over Easter either, so it was just a jolly for them both really!
So yesterday we set off at 7am, being the first rider in at 9 for our dressage, and well I knew it wasn’t going to be good the moment we started warming up! Ballet is the type of horse that does minimal warm up, else she gets bored and tends to go heavy and bulldoze her way through a test, carting me around. Well she warmed up horribly and heavy, which meant a very bulldozing test! Ridiculously strong, so really got her back in the canter and of course she dropped into trot (Numpty rider.). Our score wasn’t great at 38, which was about 6th from the top. :/
Onto the SJ and I made the first mistake of staying in the snaffle. The warm up was getting very trashed, although the dressage arenas were fab and everywhere else had fantastic ground. Ballet got very strong and started taking off after each practise jump. :O But went in, and had a good round up until she took off after the double, which screwed up my turn to the dog legged, so had that down, and then was fine until the last jump where she just stopped.. So unlike her, but jumped it fine second time. So finished on 8.
Onto XC, the course was tough, there was no doubt about it. Ballet and I have jumped every jump on the course many times, we’ve never had a XC fault, and so there I was thinking ‘Yes – this course is designed for us!’ – Second mistake. The warm up only had 2 fences of about 1 foot 9 there, and I was told that a SJ would be put up for people to use – although I had gone and got back by the time this was put up. The team at Bramcote did a fantastic job making the course rideable, and this was to be forgiven for all the work they had put in.
So, I set off – fine over the brush at 1, 2 a triple bar, had a very sticky moment at number 3, some big white rails, which proved very influential throughout the day. Went to give her a tap and remind her of the job she had and managed to throw my whip away – Third Mistake. the Mushrooms combinations then the deer leap.
Next was the coffin, and then some sharks teeth, and then a large tank, by now we had got a fairly nice rhythm going, bit slower than usual as I wasn’t sure how the ground would ride. Up into the woods and over a small roll top, turned back on ourselves to number 12 which was a small box, and she just put in a dirty stop. Think I sat there in shock for a minute – she’s never refused XC ever. But got myself together, and took the way back pretty steady making sure we got good strides to everything, whilst in deep thought! Starting heading for the wrong jump, realised and managed to veer back to ours on an angle, but sailed on over the next few. Hit the corner into the woods pretty hard, not sure if she misread it slightly due to the lighting as we were perfect to it, but came out feeling fine. Straight through the water: Video:
Onto the arrowheads, the offset roll tops, the rails, a skinny log and then a rail, stride to a ditch, bounce to a step up, 3 strides and a ski jump (into space type thing) with a skinny log pile on a curve at the bottom of the steep slope and to the finish. :/
So finished on 20 pens and probably a lot of time pens. Very disappointed, Ballet didn’t seem too happy, and was a bit sticky here and there. So went to pick up whip which had somehow made It back to the secretary’s tent only to find the prize giving taking place – was shocked to hear them call my name for 5th! The course had caused so many problems that my score and 25 time penalties had allowed me to be 5th.. :O
So we toddled off home to go and get Spanner ready for the next day. We set off this morning at 7.30am, ready for our dressage at 10.10. Spanner’s first event at this height, and considering she’s only 6, and not hugely experienced, not jumped a XC jump since March, nor ridden in the week, we were the definition of under prepared. But sometimes you just have to just do it.
Warmed up for a long time working on getting her bending correctly and equally on both reins in walk and trot, keeping her calm and encouraging her to relax. Felt fantastic when warming up, really listened to me – was very pleased. Went in to my test, it was the only arena with a boggy side, and I felt going down that one long side she was getting a bit stuck in it. But she did the first part of the test well, a little tense, but worked correctly, a little choppier than I would have liked but it was good enough. Her walk and trot were the best she has been between the boards –and the score sheet showed that – 7’s and 8’s. But then we cantered, and she had a bit of a meltdown – she flung her head, she did a flying change was a bit all over the shot, and our marks proceeded to also plummet to 4’s and 5’s. Back to trot and she was fine again. Canter has always been our problem - at home we seem to be getting on top of it, but in an arena we had one long side of canter, so barely enough time to do anything about it. Stuck her quarters out up the centre line and halted square, but facing the corner of the arena!
We were awarded 42, our comments were: ‘What a shame! Horse capable of producing quality work – Needs LOTS of outings to dressage to help with the disobedience and tenseness.’
Onto the SJ and by now the warm up was badly cut up. She was getting wound up, so I went in when I could and the course was full up and set out the same as the open course the day before. Wow, she made a super jump over them! Gobsmacked how much this has improved. Her technique has improved with the canter and she made a lovely shape over them. Jumped superbly until we got to the double where she struggled to get the two strides and put in 3 and had the second part down, and then I saw the most aweful stride ever – bless her she still went to jump, but no way she could have got high enough in time. Pat and a ‘Sorry Spanner’ later and we finished the rest. Could have kicked myself! So that was 8 to add.
Onto the XC and I truly thought it was going to be quite tough for Spanner, it wasn’t a small 90cm course, and there was problems everywhere. Set off and she was very bold and forward over 1 and 2, number 3 was a skinny log at the top of a hill, to a wider long half way down a steep slope, to a very narrow log at the bottom. She wiggled to the first skinny, so I got her back to trot for the log down hill to make sure we got to the skinny at the bottom, and killed the rhythem too much, we just trotted to a stop. :O Did it all fine second time, was absolutely furious with myself! Onto the big house at 4 and then the angled logs that were causing all sorts of problems. They should be a bounce, but because they are so angled it was could be so easy to run out. We got a stride in, and then went fine up over the barrels, a flowerbed, popped into the water and out over the palisade, over the trakehner, and to the roll top at the top, down over a chair, then a very narrow skinny box which she really took on, and over the last few to the finish! Absolutely thrilled with her! She made it feel so easy. Although I was so annoyed at my appauling riding at 3.
Again we came 5th, with 25 time pens again, the course had once again proved quite tricky, and so the scoreboard was awash with cricket scores. But chuffed with Spanner – proved herself to be quite capable and happy at that level.
So all in all, good placings considering the bad scores we got – most irritated at my riding, I don’t know what I was thinking! But never mind. A big thank you must go out to the team at the AHBPC, the ground was fantastic, the XC course was barely cut up nor the majority of the SJ or dressage. I really cannot stress how fantastic the two days were, they did a great job!
Well done if you made it this far!