Today Ozzie and I went to Wilton for a Novice run, Wilton was sposed to be a decent track and I had never been there so quite fancied going and giving it a go.
After getting up at a bright and early time of 5 am and leaving the yard at 6.30, leaving ourselves time to avoid Reigate Hill and the A217 closures by driving round the 'scenic' route to get on the motorway at junction 9. We had a really good run down to Wilton, getting there at 8.30, just as we had planned - its always good when a plan actually happens!! Mum grabbed us both a bacon roll whilst I walked the show jumping. It was a decent enough course (see photos) and a very long way round, but nicely built with areas to cause problems - mainly a 4 / 5 strided distance from an oxer to a style. The cross country was lovely, really well built with a fair few questions and some nice big and bold fences - I couldn't wait to get out there! My favourite fence had to be the palisade in front of two steps down and then a left handed curve to and arrowhead. However the arrowhead was not your standard arrowhead, it had been made to look like a cows head!! (See the picture at the end!)
We finished walking the course with an hour to spare before I wanted to get on for my dressage, so mum went and gave him a 'calming' laser treatment (he shook with excitement the whole way through!) Whilst I watched some people show jump - who were making it look very easy, which is always nice but definately puts the pressure on! Eventually the time came to get on for my dressage, and I was very apprehensive as there were horses galloping past the lorry every two minutes and Ozzie definately wanted to get out there! In the warm up Ozzie wasn't too tense, but for some reason decided his chin should touch his chest and tried his best to show how strong he could look without actually being at all strong! He is quite good at it! In the arena he was lovely, the general trend of work is so much better, he stays soft through transitions and on the whole is staying much more relaxed. He did add in numerous mistakes - just to keep the judge on her toes, by jogging his walk - he nearly walked it all, and doing 3 transitions into left lead canter .. If you didnt think it could be done, it definately can!! After all that he ended up with a 37 to my complete shock, after 3 1/2 years I am getting somewhere with his dressage.
Onto the showjumping. We didn't do too much in the warm up as he was jumping really well, although he was slightly angry at the fact I had my stronger bit in, and yes I had brakes! In we went and he was jumping fantastically, cleared the first 9 fences, and came to the last which was a long 2 strided double, instead of letting him fiddle 3 strides, I pushed for 2 strides and he had the out of the double down - silly jockey! After all Ozzies hard work in the jumping he then trod on a wasps nest hidden in the grass and got stung - he shot off and I very nearly came off - but managed to stay on, despite turning 180 degrees pretty quickly, we checked him over, and couldn't see any lumps or reactions to the stings so we got ready and went to the cross country!
Well he was much admired in the warm up, and flew round the cross country with ease. At fence 8 there was a corner to a skinny, well it may aswell have been 20 foot wide as he had no intention to do anything but jump it! When he is in that mode cross country there is no stopping him! Down the two steps and over the skinny cow before you could say 'beef'. I then (having remembered to start my watch this week) glanced at my watch and realised I had made up way too much time already, so just kept it as steady as I could. With 2 fences to jump I still had 50 seconds on the clock, so I wiggled round and took the longest route I could, I finished 13 seconds inside the optimum. We finished 18th, but even on our dressage score we would have only been 15th, so a really good outing and a lovely event, I would really recommend it - but not as a first time novice as it is technical enough!
Well on Sunday, we headed off bright and early (although not too early in eventing terms) to Eridge Park, for our last ONU18Q. Knowing that selection was based on our performance on the day, I was nervous to say the least.
Last Wednesday (29/6) I thought I should take Ozzie to practice some dressage in preparation. We went to Great Bookham Equestrian Centre, and despite it being so local, I havent competed there for years. It was a very well run evening and all the people were very friendly. The BD tests we were doing, were fortunately very similar to the BE test I was going to do at Eridge. Although Ozzie was tense and a bit excited, it was a fantastic set up dressage wise, as I was firm and treated it as practice. In the test if something wasnt the way I wanted, I made him do it properly, which might have dropped me marks then, but I am sure it made a huge difference to my test at Eridge. We also did some clear round jumping, I rode like a muppet, and despite Ozzies best efforts, we had a pole in each round. I got in at 10.15pm Wednesday night, and was back at the yard at 6.30 Thursday morning to give Ozzie a quick hack before heading off to Wales on a biology field trip. The trip was meant to last until Monday, however I wasnot missing Eridge for anything. So a huge huge thank you to my dad who drove a 10 hour round trip to collect me from Wales!! (Thank you very much.) I got back to Reigate at 5.30 on Saturday night, and went to the yard to ride, ready for Sunday! My mum had already cleaned my tack and bathed Ozzie so he was a dazzling white, what would I do without my parents?!
By the time the hot water wouldnt work, and mums car wouldnt start I was starting to get worried, something was going to go wrong on the day - all these things going wrong must mean something .. surely ?! We got to the yard, got sorted and off we went at 7.45. We got to Eridge in good time, so I tacked up and wandered over to the dressage. Ozzie warmed up fantastically, went in and got a little tense, but nothing in comparison to normal. He did a really lovely test, and ended up with a mark of 41, which I though was quite mean really! But that is judging for you! There was a long gap between Dressage and Showjumping, so I went and watched some others do their dressage, before going on the U18 course walk with Mark Corbett. I was happy with the xc course, a good challenge but perfectly possible!
The showjumping was the phase I was most nervous for, knowing if I gave Oz half a chance he would showjump clear. Well I managed to give him that chance and he skipped round very happily for a clear round ! At this point I had started to breath, and was determined not to ride like a muppet or do anything stupid cross country.
A quick change and we were at the xc start. I was wearing my stop watch (didn't want a repeat of Borde Hill) however I forgot to start it!! So that plan failed!! However he skipped round like a pro, he gave me such a fantastic ride and felt really fit. At one point I did lose a little control, but on the whole, I maintained control and Ozzie was very happy!
When we finished, and got everything sorted I went and sat with Genevive (chuffy) Clark and we watched a film to pass the time. It turns out I had 5.2 too slow time faults, but that was still 2nd fastest in my section, and I finished 5th! I was so so so happy, all my work this year has seemed to pay off! Chuffy finished 3rd and another Surrey Union member, Lucyanna Westaway, finished 2nd. A good day had by all.
Today I received the confirmation email from Sheila, saying that I had qualified to ride for the South East at Weston Park this October. Three of us are Surrey Union members - Genevive, Lucyanna and I. Georgia Hatton Brown, Will Furlong and Hannah Murphy have been selected and they were also on the team last year, so I am very excited! I think I will be out doing dressage every week from now until October!!
Georgie and Ozzie xx