Bonnie Fishburn – Heading out and about

“We were supposed to have our first BE event of the year up at Askham Bryan on 5th March, but unfortunately they fell victim to the terrible weather we had, in fact three days before the event was supposed to start they were completely white over, I did think I was being a little keen trying to get a run so early in the season!!!”

“But the weather for Elfie’s first ever party on 7th March was lovely and sunny. I took him for  a play inside the white boards. It was the first time he’d ever been in an arena with other horses to work and he was a little shy at first but soon got used to it and was so brave and warmed up beautifully. When we went in for the test, the one thing he did take a disliking to was the judges box, which was a little bit of a problem because when ever we were down that end of the arena we were rather wobbly. But there were some really lovely moments away from the box. 60.8% wasn’t a bad score for his first ever test. Plenty of room for improvement but I was delighted that he coped so well with the party atmosphere.”

“It was Florence’s turn to shine next and we headed to Prescott Arena for her second ever play at BD Elementary. She was a bit of a diva warming up and determined to think we should be out eventing by now and thought perhaps we were there to practise our cross country!!! But we went in to the E40 and she was lovely and cooperative for a 66.45% to win the bronze section and also win Overall. So chuffed with her.”

“We then had E59 which is the most tricky of the elementary tests. We are still very new at this level and need a few more miles on the clock, but we gave it ago and got some good marks along the way but need more practise at movements like the simple changes where we broke on the right rein and got 4’s. But it will come with time and patience. We scored a 62.8 in that one.”

“Our next outing was a bit of a drama!!! Horses are such great levellers. It’s amazing how many emotions they can give you in a day and how a simple little excitable moment can end in such a nasty and painful way. I had Florence and Percy competing at The Wynnstay Hunt Team Arena Eventing. But our day got off to a horrible start with one of our members horses having an excitable buck after a fence sending rider John Done out the side door. Unfortunately he landed on his feet with an almighty crack. He was airlifted to hospital with an open fracture, where he was operated on and had a rod and 6 pins to mend is broken ankle. Such sad times.”

“Luckily that was the last of our dramas and we managed to jump 3 clears between Emma Rarity, Hayley Mayer and myself on Florence to finish 3rd. We then had a big shuffle round for the 100cm class as we had no John or daughter Amanda Dakin. So Hayley and Molly rose to the challenge and jumped fab clear and Lottie Williams jumped a super speedy clear. Then I rode both Florence and Percy. Both were clear although Percy somewhat wild!!! That was good enough for 1st place. All in all the “Pretty in Pink” team had a day of dramas but jumped 7 out of 7 clears.”

“Next up was a little pole work party for Elfie at Tushingham Arena. It was an evening event so quite a big ask for him, being only 3, to go out in the lorry at night and then in to an indoor arena which he’s never done before. But in true Elfie style he didn’t let it upset him and just got on with the job. He is a little pleasure to work with. He has also starting doing a little bit of jumping now and is already cantering a little course of fences. I can’t wait to get him out to some little jumping parties in the near future.”

“Then on the 18th March we managed to get to our first event of the year. Having travelled 113 miles to Lincoln after our 2.55am start both Florence and Percy were a pleasure to ride. They were both in the Open 100. Florence was rather confused in the dressage having been doing elementary more recently, she was expected a little more than just walk, trot and canter!!! But we just about held it together for 31. She jumped her little socks off in the showjumping for a clear, she felt proper!!! Then gave me a fabulous, smooth and bold ride across country, inside the time to take the lead. What a way to start our season!!! Percy I was delighted with after his dressage but only scored 36, judges don’t like my cow coloured horse. He then jumped a lovely clear showjumping and gave me a great spin xc inside the time, but I then discovered I was given 20 penalties at fence 4, a very straight forward box type fence. He had spooked at a timber frame building next to the fence and slammed to a halt about 10 strides out. A simple smack with the whip he picked up canter and jumped the fence. I can’t believe they gave me 20 penalties. The fence judge had wrote “presented at fence and napped” I was nowhere near the fence and if they call that a nap I’d love to see what they called a proper nap!!! I did argue my case but the penalties stood. As you can imagine it put a real dampener on the day, but at least the ponies both gave me a great ride. He should have finished 6th. Highs and lows of eventing. Nice to see Oliver Townend taking the prize giving to help the organisers out as they were running out of daylight for the novice, so theywere all busy elsewhere. Overall a really good start to our season.”

“Next up was a trip to one of my favourite events, Gatcombe Horse Trials. There’s just something extra special about competing down there. Percy was a complete pro and it was so close to being a perfect day but we did have a minor blip xc, which I blame myself for. He was 11th out of 40 after dressage on 30.5, finally a judge who likes him!!! He was just perfect, despite the sticky ground and windy conditions. Then showjumping he jumped his little socks off, tried so hard out of 4″ off holding mud for a fantastic clear. And XC he was giving me the most wonderful, bold ride and didn’t seem to mind the cut up ground. But I fluffed up at fence 17. I fiddled him off his line at a skinny bench to a drop hedge. But he popped it second time round and finished in great style. I should have been really gutted but I couldn’t be because he tried his heart out for me. Ok a little disappointed that we would have finished easily in the top 10, perhaps even as low as 5th or 6th but he showed me what a truly talented horse I have bred.”

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“And my final adventure of the month was with Elfie for his second ever dressage test. We entered Berriewood and did the Intro B and Prelim 12. In the first test he scored a 62.6% which was good enough for 3rd place in a huge class of 15. Delighted with him. He also did a lovely test in the prelim and it was his first attempt of cantering in a test. The judge liked him but not my riding, saying “let down by his rider, she needs to learn to ride an accurate test”, I thought that was very rude, at the end of the day he is a real baby and my aim wasn’t to push him into the corners and unbalance him. For a young, recently broken baby I thought he was great. He scored 60.9% in that one.”

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