With the snow gone I was ready to crack on with the preparation for the eventing season, 3 weeks today and subject to the ballot, all 3 horses should have had their first runs of the season - eeeeek!
On the 27th January we headed off to Royal Leisure BS to give the horses an outing as we had managed to keep them ticking over whilst the snow was around by using two giant rolls of bubble wrap (50mx1.5m) to cover a track! After just two weeks without jumping I felt really rusty, its amazing how two weeks off can make such a difference especially considering I had still been riding! However the horses went brilliantly. Lily just had 4 faults in the 1.05. I then had Lily and Coco in the Newcomers and they both jumped beautiful first rounds so I had two into the Jump Off. Lily jumped another fab round, good enough to leave us in 2nd place you can see her rounds HERE! Coco just had one rail down but jumped really well. On the Wednesday (30th) we headed up to Quainton with Coco for some Young Rider Training with Emma Fisher. The flat session was really useful as we worked on getting Coco soft but engaged, as where we have been riding him softly to build his top line, Emma was explaining that for test riding I need more engagement so I came away with some new exercises which will hopefully help. The jumping was also good and Coco jumped fantastically which was really good.
The 5th of February we headed off to Addington Manor for some more Show Jumping. Lily just had an unlucky fence in the 1.05m. However she was awesome in the Newcomers and jumped a beautiful double clear to finish fourth, beating Tim Stockdale and Helen Treadwell amongst others! You can see the video by clicking HERE. Coco had 3 down in the Newcomers but not through carelessness of mistakes. Afterwards I think the problem was that he had been on the lorry a long time and I hadn't given him time to warm up sufficiently which was silly. However I worked him in a bit longer and took him in the 1.15 Open where he was a different horse and just had one down. You can see his video HERE.
On Saturday 9th we took Punch to his first jumping outing and only his 2nd outing since Dauntsey in September! We went to Felbridge show jumping and as he hadn't been out for a while I just jumped him HC in the Discovery. He was great and jumped a lovely double clear which was really confidence giving for both of us.
I had an Ernest lesson on Coco in the pouring rain and sleet on Sunday 10th as after Addington I felt I needed to consolidate my riding and stabilise what we had been working on before. He was mega! I think Ernest was really impressed with how he had come on and how he was jumping. I felt it was the best he has ever jumped since I first got him which is great as we are really starting to become a partnership now.
After my lesson went so well we headed off to Addington again on Pancake day to put what I had worked on in my lesson in to practice. We took all three horses together for the first time ever but they all behaved themselves. Punch hadn't jumped indoors since this time last year so was a bit spooky for 4 faults in the 1.05m, however he tried really hard and I was very pleased with him. Lily was also great, she had an unlucky fence in the 1.05m as I was trying to get a quick time, but that is a risk you take when riding against the clock! In the Newcomers she jumped even better and was unlucky to have the planks out of a 3 stride distance as I saw a very long one on the way in!! If she had jumped clear she would have won by nearly a second! You can see her video HERE. We jumped Coco in the Newcomers too and made sure I gave him enough warm up this time. He was perfect from the start of the warm up to the end of our round. I was working on sitting really still and letting him jump as I had worked on with Ernest. It really payed off and he flew. He was jumping amazingly and we really are ready to crack on! He went in to the lead but finished 3rd in the end. Still a great result. You can see Coco's video HERE.
Yesterday (16th) we headed to the second of the Merrist Wood JAS competitions with Punch & Lily hoping to qualify Punch for the final too. Punch was just jumping in the BE100. We had a perfect warm up and just gave him a breather before jumping a couple of fences before we went in. He took exception to the spread at this point for some reason! However with some firm persuasion that it was not a good plan to stop and that jumping was easier and more fun than stopping, we were in. It was almost a blessing in disguise that he was cheeky in the warm up as it reminded me to ride him positively. He responded and jumped a foot perfect double clear and inside the time, which very few people were doing! When we went to check the scores he was on 0!! A perfect style score and 6/6 for everything with the comment on the bottom of 'Well Done'!! He was the winner in this class and a qualification for the final! Aim 1 of the season achieved! Lily was up next in the Novice and she was feeling very pleased with herself. She was bouncing all over the place and generally trying to prove that she was the best horse there! Unfortunately her enthusiasm cost us with a fence in the ring as I wasn't riding in a rhythm and ended up missing her at a fence which she tried very hard to jump but couldn't quite get her legs out the way. We still got another style score of 0, but with 4 jumping and 5 time to add we were on 9. It was still good enough for 4th which shows how tough the competition was! I thought I would enter her in the Open to see what she made of it and to make her think a little bit. She did think but she was seriously impressive. The corner was so skinny but she thought nothing of it and flew the whole way round but was a bit tired by the bounce at the second last and just had it behind which was a shame. So we finished with 4 jumping and 6 time to add to our style score, which again was 0! She finished 5th which I was so thrilled with as she has come such a long way.
I have also taken her and Coco cross country schooling and they were both perfect. Jumped everything they were asked with their ears pricked! So just Punch to go now and then it is Eventing time! I can't believe how lucky I am to have three such lovely horses to compete this year and all with such exciting aims! A huge thank you to Liz & Kari for getting me such an amazing horse to ride and for letting me compete Punch. Also to Mum for driving me round the country and for schooling Lily for me - she is going really well! I am counting down the days until the season starts now.
It was great to have a catch up with my Sponsors from Simple System this week too and get some advice on the horses feeding coming into the eventing season.
Tasha also took Ozzie cross country for the first time and she rode him amazingly and he went so well for her! I am so pleased he has gone to such a lovely home - it couldn't be more perfect for him! You can see the cross country schooling pictures HERE.
I am in London working for the next two weeks which is going to be a bit of a shock to the system but hopefully it should make a nice change and will be interesting. My first aim is not to get lost on the train as I am useless at commuting and public transport in general!! I have the JAS Final next weekend and Munstead Combined training the following weekend, so we shall see!
Sorry for the essay..