'Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in & day out.'
This quote couldn't be more apt to the work I have put in this winter with Lily, and the outcome of our first event this weekend. It is such a nice feeling when you know both the horse and yourself are on great form and you go out and prove it, definitely a sense of satisfaction!
She warmed up beautifully for the dressage, and I got some really nice medium trot so hoping to start getting it in the arena too. However we were only doing a BE100 test so no medium trot in the test. Once she got into the arena she was a little more tense and therefore I didn't have her in to the rein as much as I would have liked, however she still performed an obedient and accurate test which was rewarded with a score of 28, the second best score of the section.
She found the show-jumping rather easy and just skipped round for a lovely, confident clear and is more than ready to start jumping some bigger tracks as she is currently finding it all much too easy! Our dressage score was read out at the end of the show-jumping round and I was delighted, so knew with a good cross-country run we were in with a chance. Luckily Mum went and checked the scoreboard and found very few were getting time penalties, and plenty of people were getting them for going too fast! So the plan was to go out in a good rhythm and maintain that to give her a good ride.
She gave me the most awesome feeling, and absolutely loved it! She was quite excited before we entered the start box and was almost napping back to the other horses, however as soon as I was counted down and walked into the start box, she jumped out with enthusiasm and pulled me the whole way round the course! Well with the minor exception of the stretch between the water at fence 10 and fence 11, where she spooked violently sideways, first at the BE80 jump on one side, then the BE90 fence on the other, but luckily I regained her attention before she popped fence 11 in great style (See picture below). The course asked enough questions for a first run of the season - you can see them on the fantastic Shoestring Eventing Course Pictures with a double of corners, a couple of skinny combinations and a nice water complex. I obviously got my rhythm spot on as we finished 5 seconds inside the time and on our dressage score which left us in 2nd place, just 0.2 behind the winner.
Thank you to groom and lorry driver aka supermum who not only helps all day and has even got rather good at videoing with all the practice I give her, but then drove the lorry and Lily home whilst I went on to Warwick to see the boyfriend! Another big thanks to Jenny Wijsmuller for coming and supporting and also to Charles who Jenny seemed to drag with her, but at least it was a lovely warm and sunny day!!
To see the video CLICK HERE
It is so exciting to have Lily on the form of her life, so we are heading to Littleton Manor for an Arena Eventing qualifier next Saturday, followed by dressage at Pachesham on Sunday. What is even more exciting is that Coco is going to join the party after 10 months out, think I may need my superglue! Lily's next event is Aldon BE100open on the 20th March!
And it will be time to go #EventingLive2015! I don't think I have ever been this excited for the start of the season, but then again I haven't ever had a horse going this well and felt so prepared!
'To be a champion, you have to learn to handle stress and pressure. But if you've prepared mentally and physically, you don't have to worry.'
I quite like this quote as it shows how important being prepared is, saying that, despite being super prepared, I know with horses that anything could go wrong!! However I am keeping my fingers tightly crossed and bursting with excitement to get my reformed Lily pony out eventing this weekend!
When I left off, Lily and I were heading to Merrist Wood for the JAS, and as I have said in the previous blogs, Lily is a big fan of the arena eventing and JAS type competitions so has become a bit of a specialist! She warmed up really well and we went in to the Novice, there wasn't really many places to save time and turn tight, so it was just a case of letting her keep rolling forwards and trusting her to keep the fences up! I always say that when horses are going well, there is nothing you can do to make it go wrong, and that was certainly the case with Lily.. She knew exactly what she needed to do and cruised round finding it all very easy, she was very unlucky to just rub the penultimate fence behind, resulting in 4 faults and we also picked up 2 time faults but no one got inside the time. We were awarded a style mark of 4 and therefore finished on a total of 10 which was enough to win the class, what a clever pony. She took a while to recover after the novice and was definitely feeling a little flat, so we withdrew her from the open and saved her for another day, she had had a busy week and there was no point in pushing her! You can see the video by CLICKING HERE.
I was then lucky enough to head off for 5 days skiing from Wednesday to Sunday, unfortunately it meant missing the JAS final but having not skied for 5 years, I wasn't going to miss the opportunity! I went with my aunt and uncle, cousins and my brother. We had a fantastic week with great weather. If you want to see our 'spills' GoPro footage, CLICK HERE for a laugh!! It is lucky my balance is better on a horse than it is on skis, or I would be in serious trouble!!
Straight back on it when I got back, with my two horses to ride alongside Catherine Heilbron's Woody whilst she was away! I also had my third BUCS (University) Riding competition, which was the turn of Kent to host. It was the most efficiently run day eve, which was much appreciated and we were lucky enough to ride some lovely horses. The team did a good job on the flat with the team leading going into the jumping in the afternoon, to say we nailed the jumping would be an understatement, all four team members won on their jumping horses which gave the team a win by a large margin. We also all placed individually, occupying the first four places. I won, Sasha was 2nd, Morganne 3rd and Alex 4th.
Last Friday I headed to Nurstead to take Lily cross country schooling. The ground was amazing and there was a fantastic range of fences to school over. Lily was incredible, she was so forwards thinking that she kept taking me by surprise by picking up on the long ones, rather than chipping in. A winters hunting has transformed her! There are a few photos below and some video clips in the link at the bottom.
Saturday was another exciting day with Ernest lessons on Lily and Catherine's pony Woody over at LMEQ. Lily was first up and our session is best described as faultless. Every lesson I have with Ernest, I come away feeling like I have achieved something, despite often jumping very few fences. Saturday was one of those days. We were focussing on how small things make a massive difference to the quality of performance, and I want to get out to some BS shows to start jumping bigger tracks as Lily and I are ready! Woody was also awarded a gold star. I had popped him over a couple of small fences to get the feel of him earlier in the week, but Ernest had him popping round a 1.05m course at the end of the session. We had a couple of little miscommunication blips, where I didn't keep him straight round the corner and he ran out left, but again minor adjustments solved what could have become a major problem. I am so lucky to have had the chance to jump Woody for Catherine as he taught me lots, just in one session!
I also managed to ride Coco before heading off for a hockey match at home against top of the league. Although whether we won or lost would make no difference to our league position, we had our strongest team out and were determined to win, but knew it would not be easy. I managed to get yellow carded and was therefore sent off for 5 minutes having played only 5 minutes of the game (not my finest moment!!). However the team settled well and worked hard and we were rewarded with a 3-1 win!!
Sunday was dressage day, and after a hockey social the night before, where we celebrated our win. However the excitement of my first dressage lesson on Coco since his injury quickly removed any tiredness and he was really good. He was working forwards into the contact which is where I have always struggled and I am hoping the break will have done him good - so far it seems that way. In the afternoon, we headed to Belmordean for a dressage lesson with Damian Hallam, which Lily always finds a massive shock to the system!! He won't let her get away with anything and believes that if I give an aid, 1. I should mean it (and not just nag all the time as that makes her angry!!) and 2. She should listen straight away (Stops me nagging and she is happy!). It is amazing the quality of work I get from her in these sessions, and he even commented on how good her paces were (coming from someone who sees some seriously classy dressage horses is quite exciting!) I got some fabulous medium trot, she was sitting and pushing from behind. After that session, I am aiming for sub 30s dressage at Aston, because we are more than capable of achieving that!
Wednesday was time for our last BUCS League match of the year and excitingly it was our home competition. We knew if we won, or came second we would win the league and proceed to regionals. The drama started at 6.30 when we had a message from one of our team members that she had been taken to hospital overnight due to an injury she received out hunting before Christmas, however the show had to go on and our Captain, Melissa who hasn't been riding this year stepped into Sasha's place. We had an incredible day with all four of our riders winning on our dressage horses and being 85 penalties ahead of the next best team before the jumping had even taken place. I had a lovely little bay horse for the dressage called Snooben who tried his heart out for me and the judge agreed awarding us 82% with all 8s and three 9s, and a comment at the end of 'this is how it is supposed to look :)'.. That sheet is being framed. Again we nailed the jumping, with 3 out of 4 of our team members winning on their horses again to give the team the win. There was a lot of excitement at Billz Equestrian yesterday as our B team who were competing away had also won! There was a lot of champagne spraying going on and the RoHo Dream Team are off to Regionals!!
However the excitement didn't stop there, as when I got home I got to jump Coco for the first time in ten months and after 20 weeks of ridden rehab work. I don't know who was happier, me (grinning from ear to ear) or him (bouncing down the school with his head between his knees on landing). Either way we were both happy to be back and the slow process continues with more excitement than ever. There are some clips of his dressage and jumping below! With his work increasing we are increasing the topnosh he is having in his feeds to help him maintain condition, and he also has a LucieBric each day to keep him occupied.
CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO!
Sorry for the essay, short one next time as I will only have Aston to report on, and fingers crossed we will start the season with a bang (in a good way!!!)