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Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Skipton - Our Best Score Yet!

With a great dressage score at Belsay, but a disappointing show jumping round, and time penalties to add in the cross country, we were looking forward to Skipton.

We'd taken the opportunity to go cross country schooling last Monday (10th June) around a local event, Kirkley Hall, but aiming to have a go at all the next level up fences, BE100. Thomas was brilliant and flew round everything, although a very narrow jump with a tree on top, did cause a slight delay for us. Without the tree, we breezed over it.

The little issue actually made us ride much more positively around the rest of the course, and we were looking forward to Skipton at the weekend.

With a reasonable start (leaving the yard at 7am on Sunday), the three of us headed to Skipton. We'd allowed plenty of time to get there (just in case!), so it was quite nice to enjoy a steadier course walk and watch a few other competitors come through.

Heading over to the dressage, a couple of relatives who were over from America decided to come and watch. It was lovely to see them and to see support even when they were on such a tight schedule. Also joining them was my 84-year old Nana! Don't be fooled by her age though - 2 x 18-holes of golf a week means that she is probably fitter than all of us!!

Thomas was a little fussy in his contact in the warm up, and still a bit stiffer to the left than the right, but we were soon working together well, and it was time to head in. As there had been a gap before us, the judge buzzed us in almost straight away, which really was a good thing - overhanging trees down the outside of one of the arenas meant it was awkward on such a big horse!

The test could have had more lift and impulsion, but overall, Thomas was obedient and it looked a very pleasing test. I was worried that it was no where near the test we put in at Belsay, whereas Andrew thought it looked good.

Putting the dressage behind us, I had a look at the show jumping. A lot seem to be having the same fence down; number 5. It was on a backward bend down to uphill, but didn't look like anything too bad.  Show jumping our weakest phase, so I was starting to think a bit negatively, which is wrong! Thomas warmed up well, it was busy the collecting ring, even though just 4 horses were declared to go in.

We started off with a ropey jump, getting a bit close, but recovered well, and just had the bogey fence down, number 5, which we again just got too close to, and had the front top pole. Again, we recovered well, and Thomas jumped a super round after that!

It was our best show jumping round to date! I was so thrilled to have just one pole down and what felt like a great round.

Now onto the fun part - cross country.

The course was short and with the first 5 fences being in about 300m! This type of course doesn't really suit Thomas & I as there isn't much space for a big horse to make up the time. We flew round clear, but I suspected that we would have a heap of time penalties.

After a bite to eat, we headed to the score boards - I wish Andrew had photoed my face.

We finished on 39.1!! Another fantastic dressage score of 33.5, with 4 penalties to add in the show jumping, and just 1.6 time penalties! I was so happy!

We finished in 17th, but with just 1.6 penalties between 10th and 17th - now I wish I'd gone a bit quicker! No, it was just a great feeling to have finished on such a great score!

And here's a special mention to my Nana!!

We'd like to thank Jan Wood Properties for their ongoing support too.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Belsay Horse Trials Report

On Saturday, we headed to our second local event, Belsay Horse Trials, just 30 mins away from the yard!

There was an event in the calendar, Hexham, that I had always wanted to do, but unfortunately, it stopped after 2012, and I was gutted! Belsay came forward to replace this event, so I had everything crossed that it would be a really fab event - I wasn't disappointed! It was excellent, well organised, friendly, well setup, and the ground was almost perfect considering the rain a couple of days before, and the morning I competed!

We set off about 7.15am to allow plenty of time to get sorted and walk the course. It was a bit of a hike from the wagon to the secretary's tent, dressage and SJ, so I'm glad we did. As the SJ hadn't started, I took the opportunity to walk the course. It looked fine, but quite soft in the middle & number 8 was definitely the one that was up to height and width! I headed off to walk the XC, and found it to be bold but inviting, and nothing too technical. There was a fence on a HUGE drop at 15b, which I did worry about, not so much the fence or the drop, but the approach from a was down a short steep hill, then flat stride to the jump, drop, land on flat (hardcore built up) but dropped again and to the steepest hill I've ever cantered down!

Back to the wagon, when it was mizzley rain, but that gets you soaked! Then it rained as I headed down to dressage... My luck!

Thomas warmed up well, a little stiff on each rein, but did some bending exercises that I'd learnt in my mid-week lesson, and he felt much better, although we couldn't nail the strike off in the warm up, without the use of a side guide (i.e. not in the middle of the area). We were meant to be straight in after the coffee break, but someone arrived late and pushed in  While I'm sure one day I'll need this, it is quite frustrating when you've prepared to go in, and have to wait another 6 minutes.

Here's the test:

We scored 31.5!! Not only mine & Thomas' best test, but the best one he has EVER done!!

Onto SJ, without knowing my DR score, and he warmed up well, in the rain again, but flew at the warm up fences! I was pleased so only jumped 3 times. We were straight in after the course walk, so a bit of hanging around unfortunately. He flew at the first and second but took a front slip at number 2, and from then I just rode like a complete fool - had no leg on and just glaked about really. He had every opportunity to stop, and never did, even with the stick ground, so I was really pleased with him. When I was watching later, other who didn't look to have enough leg had plenty of stops... I put 4 down.

Here's the video:

So not our best SJ performance.

I was really disappointed with myself, and suddenly didn't see the point going XC if that's how I was going to ride, but pulled myself together and headed to the warm up. I made sure I put plenty of leg on but I don't really like doing to much and saving his energy for out on course!

Andrew caught us going out and coming home:

And here's the steep hill I was talking about! You'll hear me having a blast, shouting YAAAAAHOOOO THOMAS at the top of my lungs!

We came home clear and safe, but the score showed 11.6 time pens. I was held at the start and didn't feel I was significantly slower than past events this season, all of which I've come home inside the time. Just seems a lot....

We finished on a score of 59.1 and 23rd. Was thrilled with my dressage, but a bad SJ ride from me did dampen it a little.... especially when I saw the number of time pens...

Still thrilled with Tom! As always!

Once again, we'd like to thank our sponsor, Jan Wood Properties, for their continued support!
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