So today did not go as well as we had hoped for. I will explain fully a bit later on but all I can say is I am unbelievably proud of my big softy. He got round most of the course, even when he wasn’t feeling his best and for both our first CCI* that’s not a bad feeling.
Feu has always struggled with travelling. Having travelled to a few events further afield last year I’ve experienced him being completely drained on the cross-country and nothing like the jumping machine he normally is. This season we thought we’d cracked it, hence why we came to Blair, but unfortunately I think it made an appearance once again.
Going into the warm-up he was forward but quite spooky. I thought it might have just been a reaction to the new format of tackling a CCI (doing phases on different days); but in hindsight I just think he wasn’t firing on all cylinders, even at the start. We started later than originally planned, due to some falls which therefore held the course. As ever, the FEI stewards were so kind and welcoming and kept me updated with the status of the course.
Feu started confidently and jumped the first three fences beautifully, but he took a pretty heavy whack at the upright gate at 4b. The frangible pins didn’t go, but for a minute I was concerned they might have. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I think I that knock was an early warning sign. He jumped fences five, six and seven beautifully (fence seven was a massive open ditch), but from then on things started to head downhill, having a stop at the first part of fence eight. He just shut down on me coming into it, but we span around and jumped second time. We then jumped fence nine and 10 well. I’d been worried about fence 10 and is was a double of corners, one left-handed and the next right. Again, fences 11-16 he cleared nicely but unfortunately at 17 we picked up another refusal at the ditch. He can be sticky at ditches but again, I thought it was something we’d cracked. I think the fact that by now he was definitely feeling tired had a part to play. We got over it but got eliminated at fence 18. Annoying, but such a learning curve.
Honestly I can say that I’m not disheartened by the experience and it’s one that I will remember! I think Blair is one event that we will definitely be back again for next year. Everything is so beautifully organised, even down to the fact that ice is supplied in large freezers for after the cross-country, which is something I’ve never experienced at any competition before. We are now making the long journey home, where Feu will have a short break in the field before aiming at some more intermediates before the end of the season.
It was lovely to go cross-country with large crowds who clapped at different stages of the course as we went round. It was also great that friends at home could watch my round on the live stream. It was such a wonderful moment to experience for the first time, and gave me a real buzz as a rider.
As we packed up to head home, we managed to catch the tail end of the CIC3* ERM, and it was great to watch the top riders giving complete master classes as to how to ride the course. As well as this, we caught some pure showjumping in the main arena, which was nice to watch too.
Thank you all for following us on our journey to Blair, even if it didn’t end as planned, but there were a lot of positives to take from our experience.
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