Apparently the Great British Weather does sort of know how to behave and our season is underway! But on the weekend of my first event of the season it tried its best to be a pain in the backside. Wind, rain, hail, but fair play to the team at Stafford Horse Trials for keeping the show on the road for the first day. Elfie ran in the BE90 and behaved beautifully despite the strong winds. But he absolutely hated the ground in the dressage. I managed to find an area which was a lot less churned up and he warmed up very nicely. Unfortunately when we went over to the arena the ground was not so good and Elfie was trying his best to avoid going on the track where the 20 horses before us had gone, very disappointed with a 40.5, I think if we had been earlier to go in the arena it would have suited him better, but at least he didn’t blow up with the wind. The 5 horse before me had all had 40’s tests.
On to the Showjumping and he was jumping really well until I interfered at fence 7, asking him to wait which you can’t do in those testing ground conditions, I should have just kept him going forward. Sack the jockey. We just tapped the next two fences in front. The cross country rode beautifully and he was delighted to be back out galloping across the country, which he finds so easy. He came home 5 seconds under the time and felt super. Not a bad start to the season finishing in 9th place. Unfortunately the team had to abandon the next days competition due to even more rain.
Arrow had one of the biggest days so far in her career at the end of March. Her first ever event. But not only that, it was her first ever dressage test on grass, only her second ever showjumping competition on grass and her third ever showjumping competition overall and lastly the first ever time she has been asked to leave the start box to head of out over the country. We headed down to Warwickshire to play round one of the fabulous events run by L and S Eventing at Offchurchbury. The ground was spot on, incredible for the time of year. Arrow behaved like an absolute gem, albeit a little green as can only be expected. She warmed up for her dressage next to two groups of 5 polo ponies being exercised round the neighbouring field, yet barely took any notice. Then when she went into the white boards she did a beautiful test with a few green wobbly moments to score a 32.5, to put her in joint 5th position of 33 competitors.
On to the showjumping where she jumped a foot perfect, bold, confident and fluent clear round moving her up into joint 3rd. And finally on to the cross country, well we were counted down which was rather exciting, she shot off out of the start box like someone had prodded her with a hot poker, spotted the row of first fences in the distance and swiftly about turned and headed in the wrong direction, we gained composure and about turned and off we went to start again. She just had a moments stage freight but soon was on her way. She didn’t particularly look at or question any of the fences and was absolutely loving it at the same time as being a little bit confused as to what on earth we were doing and why were the trees and hedgerows all flying past so fast in the opposite direction, she was just being the true honest baby that she is.
The only thing that we took a really good look at was the water jump, where we picked up 20 penalties for contemplating if she was going to get her toes wet or not. We did paddle through eventually and finished the course full of running. Overall I was delighted with her attitude, of course I was a little disappointed with the fact we could have finished 2nd had we of gone clear across country, but for her first attempt I think she showed massive potential and hopefully an idea of amazing things to come from her. She loved her day and has bags of talent.
Next it was Florence’s time to shine. We headed to Maelor Equestrian Centre for their BS Show the day after Offchurchbury. We were going to jump a couple of classes but she was so super cool in the first one that we called it a day on that. She put in a super speedy double clear in the 95cm Amateur class for the win. And then the following weekend we headed off for BS at SouthView Equestrian Centre. Again she jumped a fantastic double clear in the 95cm Amateur, jumping straight in to the lead which was taken away from us as the second last competitors jumped but still a great result to be 2nd.
Then, in the 1.05m Amateur she jumped another fabulous round but had a real unlucky fence in the jump off so were quickest of the 4 faulters for 5th. This was all in preparation for the big one, the Bluechip Winter Champs. And apparently you get the same highs and lows in Showjumping that you do in Eventing! One day you are winning the 1m Open at Allenshill and in less then 24 hours later you are eating the sand at the Bluechip Champs at Hartpury in the Joshua Jones final. On route down to Hartpury Florence and I jumped a class at Allenshill was absolutely flying and the following day it was just me that did the flying and I am now sporting a tree trunk lower part of the leg which I’m guessing was pole related. Who knew that they could get through 36 horses in an hour at a big championship? I worked on 30 an hour and thought I was being generous at that but having learnt the course, watched some jump before heading back to get ready, I got up to the warm up to be told that I was being called into the second warm up area as I only had a few to go in front of me. I was 73rd to jump and they were only just over an hour and a half into the class. Poor Florence hadn’t even trotted but the man in his hut was screaming at me down his microphone to get to the arena else I would be eliminated. So we had a very quick warm up which really didn’t suit us, headed to the arena and proceeded to eat dirt at fence 5. And there’s me thinking that forgetting my girth was going to be the only problem I encounter on our little trip. Never mind onwards and upwards and learn from my mistakes.
On 13th April we had a lovely day out at the super Eland Lodge Equestrian, such a friendly team and well organised event. Elfie was having his second outing of the season round the BE90. He was such a good boy to take out. We had a moments distraction in the dressage when he suddenly realised what was going on over the hedge but other then that did a fairly nice test for 31.8. He popped round the Showjumping easily for a clear and then cruised across the country easily inside the time, 3 seconds under to be precise. This put us into 10th position in a large field of 41. It was nice to have company from Mummy Fishburn who was celebrating her Birthday, Jo Hunter, HRH and 4 rather lively doggies. Harriet took it upon herself to get very involved in more ways then one, like at the prize giving, loading Elfie and hand grazing him and also acted as my walking coat hanger after the cross country, strutting her stuff in my cross country gear, whilst looking more like a turtle.
On 19th April I was made immensely proud by Arrow. We went to Kelsall Hill for her first ever British Eventing event. We started the day with a 29.8 leaving us in about 7th of 43 which was amazing. She had baby wobbly moments but some really beautiful moments to. Her attitude was perfect. On to showjumping where she was a little excited because she could see the cross country but stayed pretty focused to jump a nice round just lowering one pole because I’d moved her into a double because her attention was momentarily focused outside of the arena, but she flattened and just had the second part down. On to cross country and apart from a little wobble having just left the start box she was absolutely incredible. She took me, stayed focused and totally loved it!!! What a special girl and what a fantastic start to her British Eventing career. To take 6th out of a large field of 43 on her first outing at only 5 years old has made me so proud of her. We won’t mention that the fence down SJ cost us 2nd place.
Two days later I headed back to Kelsall Hill with Elfie for his first BE100 of the season. We started the day with a pleasant test of 32.8 putting us in 13th position of 33 competitors. There’s work to be done to get better marks but it’s a work in progress. I need to get him to take more weight behind to lighten the front end, but it’s coming. Onto the Showjumping and I think the pair of us were half asleep at the first fence to have it down, he then jumped a super round until the last double when something took him eye off the game and he had the first part down. On to cross country where he jumped clear just picking up 1.6 time. Overall a good boy but the 8 faults from SJ proved very costly taking us out of the top 10.
Now to get entered up for some more events in May and eat some Easter Eggs.