Chatsworth Horse Trials: novice blog

  • Chatsworth is my local event and an event I’ve always dreamed of competing at. When I was in the pony club I used to score collect on my 13.2hh pony and imagine what it would be like to actually compete. So, when I got the horse that was able to do it, there was no stopping me.

    The first time at Chatsworth the show jumping was a disaster and we ran out at a skinny house. The next year the dressage was OK, went clear show jumping… then we ran out at a skinny on the cross-country again!

    I decided this year was the year we were going to get round clear. Despite not doing much this spring due to a broken foot, we managed to cram in a pre-novice and novice run in the 10 days leading up to Chatsworth, as well as lots of lessons. We managed a double clear at Osberton the week before and I spent all week with my trainer jumping doubles of skinnies on every stride and angle possible – there would be no excuses this year.

    I had day before dressage and I hate the new BE novice test; it’s all over so quickly and I suppose just isn’t ingrained yet. Tog warmed up well but when I went in the arena dropped behind my leg. It didn’t feel great and according to my friend who was watching my 20m circles weren’t round, my transitions needed work and “what on earth was that centre line?!” The judges gave me 36.2, so not too horrendous and not too badly placed in the section.

    I walked the course before we left. The beautiful setting always takes your breath away and the course looked really jumpable. No reason not to go clear this time!

    Show jumping at 8.30am the next morning meant an early start even though we live not far away. The warm up was a bit slipperly thanks to the rain overnight and Tog didn’t jump brilliantly so I was feeling a bit worried as we went in. Although there weren’t many people watching as it was so early, cantering into that large arena surrounded by tradestands, grandstands and flags does give you a real sense of occasion. I could also see my dad, grandparents and friends watching. The bell went and we were away. Tog jumped amazingly, I saw no dodgy strides and although we got a bit quick he went clear! I could not believe it. Last week at Osberton clear, now Chatsworth — surely we’ve used up all our luck!

    On to the cross-country — we got a bit close to the first fence but after that Tog flew. It’s so lovely when it feels easy. Jumped fence four with its skinny with no problems, first water was fine, over the lovely “two graces” and down to the second water. They had a skinny in this year, but we popped through no problem and out exactly where I’d been told and over the skinny at the other side. Normally I hate jumps on angles but as he was jumping so well we took the double of log piles on the angle. Long canter to the corner, I knocked the flag with my leg, then on to the double of skinnies. I’d been told to look at the second when I was in the air over the first, but I forgot. Luckily Tog had looked and jumped it — good boy! On to the trakehner, which he pinged over and then just the last fence and home! I knew I hadn’t gone very quick but was so pleased with our double clear. It’s what I’ve wanted for so long and was so proud of Tog. I hope this form continues… maybe I should just retire now!

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