After my lovely few days away in Cornwall, it was back to reality with a bang, taking Kitkat (Another Breakfast) to Wilton for the open intermediate on Sunday.
After the beautiful weather, I was worried about the ground being a bit firm, but thankfully the heavens opened on the Saturday afternoon, which meant that the going was perfect for us on Sunday.
Dressage was a little tense; sadly Kitkat had heard the hounds when we arrived and so his eyes were popping out of his head and he was constantly looking for them! He has only done 4 days hunting a couple of seasons ago, but he definitely remembered that it was terribly exciting.
He then went on to jump a beautiful double clear. I just took him steady cross-country (pictured) with my mind on Gatcombe this weekend. The section was quite competitive and my final position was 12th. It was just what we both needed as I was trying out a new bit and I wouldn’t have been comfortable using Gatcombe as my test run!
I started working for my brother, Harry, riding out his racehorses this week, and after doing single canters on three lots on Tuesday I was already feeling the effects of not being in a racing saddle for a long time. My legs will hopefully adjust quickly and as they do I’ll be shortening my stirrups more every week until I’m looking more like a jockey and less like a dressage rider.
I was then very fortunate to be able to join the long-listed young riders at their combined training, which included a talk from international showjumping course-designer Steve Williams. We helped set up a course with him and then he talked in depth about the different components we need to recognise when we walk our courses.
It was very insightful and valuable to be able to get the viewpoint of a course-designer. I was even luckier to be the guinea pig and test out the course on Kitkat. It was quite distracting jumping in front of 15 pairs of beady young rider eyes, but thankfully Kitkat showed off and jumped immaculately.
The next day, Wednesday, I was dressage writer for Mike Bullen, who was judging at their combined training competition at West Wilts. It was very interesting to be able to sit with the judge for once and find out what they see when they watch a test. The young riders all have lovely horses (a couple in particular I would have happily taken home) and the team looks like it could be really strong this year. So best of luck to them all in their final trial in a couple of weeks.
I have a final dressage lesson with Kitkat tomorrow with Emma (Fisher) before we head to Gatcombe on Friday for an early morning dressage on Saturday, so fingers crossed all goes well! The fixture was sadly cancelled last year due to the weather, so let’s hope this year it is kinder to us.
Full report of Wilton in H&H out today (1 August).