Well I left the last post saying we were heading off to Ascott Under Wychwood the following weekend, however it rained (again) and then was cancelled .. It was such a shame and I feel very sorry for all the organisers who have put weeks of work into prepping an event for them to have to cancel it, but realistically it is the sensible option.
So instead we decided we would go show jumping .. With all the eventing being cancelled I have become #eventerturnedshowjumper! We had a great choice of affiliated competitions that weekend but we decided to go to Felbridge. I jumped Punch in the 1.05 open and he was super! He gave me a great ride and felt really confident. I did some tight turns too (even though mum said I shouldn't 'go mad') and Punch loved it! I then jumped Lily in the Newcomers, we had the most ghastly warm up when someone cut me up and crashed into me. Then I was jumping a big upright when a horse decided to rear and spin right behind it. However I was past the point of being able to pull out. She jumped it in front but never really took off behind and got the pole stuck under her legs. After that she was really worried of the other horses and was jumping huge! However she went in and was an absolute superstar! She was flying and I was so confident in her. We jumped a double clear and it was good enough for 2nd! I have since got my Newcomers Double Clears conformation letter - but with the first round at a max. 1.25m I think I may pass for this year!!
The following weekend Coco was meant to be at Hambledon - which ran under fab conditions from everyones tweets and pictures. However Coco managed to overeach in the field and bruise a heel so we didnt dare risk running him incase there was something more serious there (Thankfully there wasn't) so an event that actually ran and I couldn't go. However my horse is still in one piece so I can't complain!
Last Wednesday we headed to Hickstead with all the horses for some Dressage practice. I was practicing my Badminton test on Punch, and my friend Nathalie George and her horse Law Enforcer (AKA Bobby) were running through the same test as they are in the BE100 2012 Final! They both went really well and we managed to finish on the same score of 68.5% which I was really pleased with, especially considering I am never normally anywhere near Bobby in terms of marks.
Mum rode Lily in the Prelim and did really well - gaining a 3rd placing in a big section with over 64%. I rode Lily in the Novice and she was feeling really good. She got a bit tired towards the end in the canter but generally tried really hard. She got 65% and was 5th. Liz also did the same Novice test on Coco. She kept him lovely and relaxed and got a fantastic 68% for 4th. She has only ridden him about 5 times and done very little canter so it really was rather good!! Then I did the Elementary on Coco. He went beautifully as Liz had got him all relaxed and soft, so I was able to collect him up and get him working from behind but yet into a soft frame. He scored 66% and won by 7 marks! So it was a great outing and good practice for all of the horses and me!!
Finally this weekend was eventing time again. We took Punch to Farnham Town Show to show jump on grass on Saturday. If you need to have a jump on grass its a great place to go (it was a BSJA Show) and I think they hire it out too. They were friendly and the atmosphere was really relaxed. Punch jumped H/C in the Discovery but jumped a great, confident double clear which is just what we both needed!
Yesterday we headed off to Chilham with Lily in the BE100 and Coco in the Open Novice. Lily was a bit tense and excited in her dressage but held it together for a fair mark of 32.5, which was 8th after dressage. She then jumped a slightly wild show jumping round (I think she was very pleased to be out on grass again) but it was clear none the less. Cross country she was awesome. She absolutely flew round and made nothing of it but got a little on her forehand towards the end where she still lacks a bit of balance when shes tired but other than that I couldn't fault her. She got 5 time faults but I didn't go very fast as she didn't need to rush round. Despite that she was still 6th so two events for her and two placings!
Coco also did a really lovely test apart from when the sheep decided to sabotage our free walk - he couldn't work out what they were, so stopped for a look! He got a harsh 32 - but the judguing seemed a little eratic and apart from one 21.5. Most people were between 30 and 35! He then flew round the show jumping and was unlucky to touch one behind - which fell really late! But it was just one of those things and was probably the smallest fence on the course. I was testing a new bit cross country and it was perfect! He was such a dude and ate up the course - popping round beautifully. He was slightly cross as I wouldn't let him go too fast having missed a little bit of prep work. So we had 13 time faults but I felt so confident which is great as in just over a weeks time we are off to Aston for our first Intermediate (eep!)
Meanwhile Punch is off to Badminton Grassroots on Wednesday and I am really rather excited now! He is feeling fab and a huge thank you to all Simple Systems help with what to feed him after he had colic just after christmas. He is still in one piece now so just 2 more days to keep him that way! The course looks amazing and I can't wait to be going through the lake at Badminton .. Although this is just my warm up for when I do the proper thing in a few years time!!
I can't finish without saying what a true Master of the Sport Andrew Nicholson is - having just watched his cross country round and Kentucky, all I can say is Wow! Made it look like pony club!! He has also done a fantastic job to ensure that Badminton 2013 is going to make up for the 2012 cancellation. We have a head to head between old rivals William Fox-Pitt and Andrew Nicholson to head the Rolex Grandslam! We have the reining World, Olympic and European Champion bringing two horses and not to mention the whole of last years British Team and the Olympic Bronze medallist. What a competition it is going to be!!
Punch at Munstead Hunter Trials
So at last my blog is going to contain some reports of actual eventing - and I couldn't have asked for a better start. However let's go back to where I left off saying I was going show jumping on Saturday 23rd of March! That plan immediately backfired as we woke up on the Saturday morning to a lovely blanket of snow (again!) Felbridge had to cancel and posted a picture to prove why. Snow disrupts play once again! However by Tuesday the worst of it had gone and we had been able to keep them ticking over enough to go show jumping. Off we headed to Royal Leisure with the 3 of them. Punch was first to go in the 1.05/1.10 handicap and jumped a really fab double clear, he popped round making it feel easy which was a great feeling with Badminton looming up - and at least if we hadn't got him to an event he would have been jumping and felt on good form. We then jumped Lily in the same class and she was a little excited to say the least. When the fences are 1.05 she doesn't really bother to jump - her back feet almost stay on the ground until her front feet touch on the other side! However she pinged round in a good time to finish 3rd! Then I jumped her in the Newcomers - and 1.10m is about the height she actually starts to really jump. She pinged round it with for another double clear and finished 2nd - such a clever girl! Then it was Cocos go. He jumped really well but felt a little ring rusty - I'm not sure why as he had been jumping the week before. He still jumped a lovely double clear which was good enough for 4th but I decided I would get brave and jump him in the Foxhunter - my first ever and the biggest course I would ever have jumped! It looked huge to me but Coco made nothing of it at all and pinged round. He was really unlucky to just catch the back rail of the second last in the jump off for 4 faults which was a shame but none the less I can't really complain!
On the 30th of March with Somerly and Goring having to cancel due to the delightful weather, we headed off to Munstead Hunter Trials with Lily and Punch. The course looked good however some of the landings were really quite stoney and being a hunter trial we just avoided the 3 or 4 fences which were like it on Punch as we don't want him injured before Badminton Grassroots. He went well but hit a dip in the ground just wrong which meant he jarred his shoulders up - but still jumped round the rest of the course fine! Lily was awesome and just pinged round making nothing of it! She feels like she completely understands now which is great as she has the talent to progress but it is just getting the brain onside. So a great outing and a perfect prep run before South of England.
On Easter Monday we headed down to Felbridge for some BSJA. To say it was busy is an understatement, there were at least 50 people in every class apart from the Foxhunter! It was also like the arctic - I have never been so cold at a competition ever! They were kind and sensible enough to let us jump in coats, I was wearing a base layer, my stock shirt, my show jacket, a gilet and a coat and was still freezing! It didn't seem to make much difference to the horses though as they jumped brilliantly! Lily jumped an awesome double clear in the Newcomers to finish 4th in a class of 65. She has got all her Newcomers double clears now - which is quite scary as I don't think I am brave enough to jump that big - she is more than capable! Then it was Cocos turn and he was also really good. He jumped a good round in the Newcomers but had the last 2 fences of the jump off which was a shame as apart from that he jumped really well. We then jumped in the Foxhunter and he was even better. He just had an unlucky fence where I turned up a little too tight to an oxer in the jump off and he clipped the back rail. The bigger the fences get the better he seems to jump which is a really great feeling - and I feel more than ready now to tackle an intermediate show jumping track!
On Friday 5th of April it was eventing time at last! We had put a last minute entry in to Aston Le Walls with Punch when they announced they would run an extra day of competition. The day couldn't have gone much better. I felt much more confident in the dressage - not only in carrying it out but fixing mistakes and keeping calm. It paid off as he scored a fantastic score of 29! He then jumped a great confident clear round show jumping to go forwards to the cross country on his dressage score. The cross country was a great track with a few questions - Punch loved it and flew round with no trouble whatsoever. He gave me so much confidence like he always has done across country and he really is a pleasure to ride! I didn't push him so we ended up with 0.8 of a time fault but made no difference to the overall placings and even on 29.8 we finished 5th, which I was delighted with.
On Saturday the 6th we headed off bright and early with Lily to South of England - I had to walk the course before her dressage which was at 8.12! She didn't do the test I know she was capable and although she felt a bit behind my leg - which she normally doesn't when she gets to competitions I think it was through tension and it just shows in a different way. She scored a fair 35.5 with plenty of room for improvement. She then popped round the show jumping clear but was definitely rather insulted by the height of the jumps! Then onto the cross country and there was not a moments hesitation! She jumped a beautiful clear inside the time to finish on her dressage score which was good enough for another 5th place! It was very exciting as her two full older sisters and her full younger brother were all there competing - which I should think is a very rare occurence to have 4 full siblings competing on the same day!
On Sunday the 7th we were back to South of England again - this time with Coco who had an 8.18 dressage (lie in!!) He was a bit tense in the warm up but settled down nicely to do a great test - and the judge agreed giving him a 28!! Two sub 30s dressages in a weekend is a record for me! I usually only manage one per year! He then capitalised on it with a confident clear show jumping. He was awesome cross country and he just cruised round! I kept the handbrake on as there was no point in going for the time being the first run of the season and aiming for other things. He only had 4 time faults despite this (and the time was really tight) so it was a great first run. He finished 6th! So 3 double clears and 3 placings to kick the season off - even if it is somewhat belated - is not too bad at all!
On Monday we had Pickles' (My 12'2 pony) 30th Birthday party.. Yes we had a party for a pony, but he loved the attention and his cake, and he is rather special after all! We have just put him on Topnosh as he lost a lot of weight over the cold winter and it has made the most fantastic difference in a short space of time. It is good because he doesn't have the biggest appetite, but despite aiding weight gain it doesn't add too much bulk to the feed which is ideal! Coco is also looking a little bit light of condition after his first run so we have just started him on it too - just to give him that little boost.
Little Ozzie is also going amazingly for his new jockey who managed to pilot him round into 9th place in the Dengie warm up class last weekend off just 3 hours sleep - and anyone who knows Ozzie will be aware of the fact you need all your energy to be able to maintain any control - so Well Done Tasha (see the picture below.)
This weekend we are off to Ascott Under Wychwood with Punch and Lily so fingers crossed for a repeat of last weekend!
Thats all for now - and apologies for the essay