While we all await the start of the Scottish event season I have spent the last few weekends at British Show Jumping with Lucas. We made our first trip through to Muirmill equestrian last weekend and were back at Rockrose this weekend. We have been trying to collect our 85cm double clears to qualify for the second rounds later in the year. We have one already but have sadly taken one pole in each of our last few attempts. It was a beautiful day through the West at Muirmill so they ran the show in their lovely outdoor arena. We entered the 80 and the 85, which in hindsight might have not been a great idea. Just as at Morris the week previous, Lucas jumped a super double clear and was placed in a very busy 80 class. We then went back in for the 85 and had a pole again – he seems to get quite a bit stronger in the second round as he is feeling more confident. This weekend at Rockrose we took a different tack and just jumped the 85 and he was double clear! I’m not sure if that’s what made the difference but I’ll try going straight in at 85 at our next show.
Corky has been ticking along nicely at home in preparation for the eventing at Dalkeith this coming weekend – but – as with horses nothing is ever straightforward. He came in on Monday evening with a puffy and cut hind leg. I actually think he managed to kick himself as the cut is on the inside. Fortunately he didn’t seem to be lame so with rest, bandaging and lots of lots of cold hosing by me and Mary he seems to be fine. As Dalkeith I only 15 minutes from my yard we are going to head over for our dressage and see how things go. I think he will be absolutely fine to run all three phases, but it he seems sore at all it’s just a quick trip home and back to the field. Fingers crossed!!
So last weekend was possibly the best preparation for our first event of the season ever! Pity the Scottish weather wouldn't behave as well :-(
Corky and I made DB debut last Saturday - our poor dressage marks have pushed us out of the placings out eventing on many occasions so we have been working very hard. I am very competitive (with myself) so with a bit of encouragement from my instructor Karen, I signed up for BD and decided to really test and push myself when it comes to dressage. It’s hard when Corky is quite a naturally downhill TB and I’m a very forward rider lacking some of the dressage skills required but we have tried and tried to improve. We hit a point a few months ago when I was finally not mortified every time I waked up to check our scores – progress! This weekend saw another big step. After using my annual bonus to buy a proper dressage saddle I felt extremely motivated to go out to our first BD show. Corky has been trying so hard at home so I wanted to show off how far he had come. We headed to Rockrose to ride two prelims – after a lady shouted at my in the warm up to ‘always walk on the inside track only’ I was a bit put off but determined not to be intimidated. Our first test was probably just above average for us (scoring 63.5%) – it was outside next to where everyone was warming up. We still came in 2nd place but I wasn’t satisfied with our test as I knew we could do better. Our second test was indoors in the long arena. I’m not sure why but it went much better, Corky was lovely and relaxed working forward into the contact and we scored a whopping 68.4% - I was over the moon and Corky finally showed off what he can do. Also another second place! We went home happy with two qualifying sheets.
The next day was the complete opposite really showing off Corky’s versatility. We headed up to Gleneagles for a run round their 90cm hunter trial course. The weather had been quite wet so the going was soft and slippy. As we have ridden round the course so many times I decided till to run but just to cruise round. That was easier said than done as Corky was extremely keen! He absolutely flew round the full course including a very confidence drop, skinny and step up then round to another drop to a ditch. Our only error was chipping into the last and clipping his front leg again. I think it was a mix of excitement and keenness to finish from both of us so a good lesson to learn – don’t lose concentration until you are through the finish line! I was so pleased with our run I thought we would definitely be placed. I ended up waiting almost 2 hours for the scores only to find out we were 30 seconds too fast – first time for everything!
Either way I was pleased with our run and felt amazingly prepared for Forgendenny the following week – our first BE of the year. Unfortunately the Scottish weather had a differently idea and with the persistent rain we are all facing, meant the organisers having to abandon the event. Very sad for a new event but fortunately they are due to run again in July so we will definitely be there then.
I have spent the last two weeks building my confidence back up after my fall at Hendersyde. It’s funny how one fall can make such a dent in your confidence. I think it’s because it was on the XC course and could have been much worse than it was…..strange how your mind plays out ‘what could have happened’ and the picture gets worse each time!
Anyway – back to building confidence last weekend - I took Lucas to Rockrose and he popped round the 70 and 80 double clear. He made the 70 feel so easy I have decided to move him up again. It’s hard after spending so long bringing him back after his ligament injury and worrying his leg will not hold but after 2 and a half years I have to try. He is such a fabulous horse and he is loving being back out jumping, I need to give it a proper go.
On Sunday I took Corky to the arena eventing at the Royal Highland show ground. After some advice from Henny at the XC schooling I decided to try him in a running gag in an attempt to add in a bit of extra control while lifting him up, rather than letting him tuck his head in which is what happens If I put him in a universal, pelham or three ring gag. I found it quite hard to get the right balance in the warm up, he felt like he was backing off too much but the area was very small and there was a father/daughter warming up over huge jumps which didn’t help. I never understand why people want to jump so much bigger in the warm up than the actual class? We ended up having a lovely round – I could push him on and hardly needed to touch the reins the whole way round. Typically the only time I did mess with the contact (in front of a skinny double) we took the front pole. It didn’t matter though as I actually enjoyed jumping, the canter felt good so not awkward strides. The sun also came out which made riding in such a fabulous arena even better. The photos below are taken by Jim Crichton.
In the week I took Lucas to David Harland for our show jumping lesson – I told him I wanted to move things up a bit and David looked understandably dubious as I have been quite set on not jumping anything bigger than 80 so far. We worked on a grid which I have been practicing at home with raised poles so Lucas was quite settled. We ended up jumping down a grid with 105 as the last jump and it felt fabulous. To finish the lesson successfully we jumped round a course of 85/90. Lucas was on top form so I was excited to take him over to Morris on Sunday for the BS.
Before then saw me facing my XC fears again – we set off for Foresterseat early on Saturday morning through rain and high winds. I did have a moment when I thought ‘what the hell am I doing – I could still be at home in my cosy bed!’ but I’m glad I went. The course walked well, nice mix of jumps including a skinny double, drop into water, new chunky corner. I used the new bit again, channelled David G in my head (sit quietly 5 strides out and gently press – don’t push him out of his natural rhythm) and we flew round. I tried to keep the same rhythm, not chasing too much and not worrying about time. It turns out that this actually worked out well as we were close to the optimum (just over) and came in 4th! The hardest bit of the day was getting my lorry out of the field! I lovely chap in a tractor was having to tow everyone out – he got me to the top of the hill above the gate – said ‘whatever you do, don’t stop at the gate or you’ll get stuck again’…..so down to the gate I went and had to stop to let a car past. Stuck again – oops!
Typically the weather was much better for my indoor show jumping on Sunday! I headed through to Morris Equestrian with Lucas – first visit for us. We competed in the 80 and the 85. I am trying to pick up my 4 85 DCs to qualify for the second round for amateur champs. The 80 went fabulous – Lucas few round, we even managed to throw in a few jump off turns in come in first place – clever horse. The pressure obviously got the better of me in the 85 as we managed to take the second fence (second time that has happened!). I think I needed a bit more canter as once we get going we are fine, but I need to push on a bit more to start. Back to Rockrose in a few weeks to try again!