Coco in the show jumping at Aldon CIC*
Well the eventing season is now officially over! I am already counting down the days until next season starts, and of course I have the Jumping And Style series to look forward to as a fantastic warm up for the season.
This season has been my best season to date, by far. With two affiliated eventing wins, Punch in the BE100 at Tweseldown and Lily in the BE90 at Berkshire College of Agriculture. I also had an unaffiliated win on Lily in the BE90 at Borde Hill. I have never won an event until this year, so not a bad run at all. However I have also fallen off more this year than the last 5 years put together (thank you Lily!!) We had whipping round on the gallops - fall 1 by 10 am on New Years Day!! I fell off when Lily had a bucking fit and whipped round in all the snow. I then fell off at Larkhill when she took a sudden dislike to fence 4, and then fell off her again when she had a massive bucking fit at a pairs hunter trial!! However she has since decided that it is much easier if she just keeps me on board, which is greatly appreciated! So this seasons affiliated total is; Completed - 20, Wins - 2, Placing (2nd-10th) - 11, Badminton Grassroots Qualification - 1, Novice Regional Final Qualification - 1! What this proves is that I am very lucky to have some lovely lovely horses and a great support team, however I will sum them up at the end (saving the best till last!!)
So my last event of the season was the CIC* at Aldon with Coco. It was the longest one day event I have ever done with dressage on Friday, show jumping on Saturday and cross country on Sunday! But this also meant it was an exciting event to finish with. My dressage was 3.36 on Friday so we decided that we would be best to leave on Friday morning. The traffic was good and we got there with plenty of time to spare. Including popping over to the vets to get Coco all checked in. It all was going smoothly until they asked for Coco's name. I laughed and replied with 'Sjapo Le Sursaut' and proceeded to have to spell it out, and that wasn't the only time!
We gave ourselves plenty of time to get ready for the dressage and to get Coco looking handsome, which doesn't take too much, he is such a poser! Then it was time to get on, and I left myself enough time to get him really loosened of as he takes a while to work in, especially after a three hour journey. But he worked in beautifully and before I knew it I was trotting round the edge ready to go. He performed a really lovely flowing test, I kept it really accurate and bar a couple of small mistakes was a very good effort, and probably one of the best tests I have ridden on him! Apparently the judges agreed giving us a score of 45.6 which was enough to put us in 4th place overnight with just under 20 tests to go the next morning. After getting Coco all sorted we went and walked the course for the first time. It was tough enough but the questions all seemed do able and I couldn't wait to get out there! See Coco's dressage HERE
The Saturday morning was very civilised, mum and I sat in the rugby club overlooking the CIC* arena eating a full english breakfast and watching the rest of my class do their tests. We saw two tests that had the potential to go in front but only one did, leaving us in equal 5th going into the show jumping. I wasn't show jumping until 3.12 which gave me plenty of time to get nervous, although luckily I had the trot up at 11.30 to take my mind off it for a bit. The trot up was all fine until Coco very nearly managed to trip me over, but I did stay on my feet (luckily!) Then it was ready to get on for the show jumping. I worked him for a good 20 minutes on the flat first to get him really relaxed and stretched out and went up to the show jumping warm up with 8 horses in front of me. I got up there to see the show jumping causing carnage, especially the tricky line from the double at 4 on a short two strides followed by a short 3 strides to a vertical at 5 and then a long five strides to an oxer at six which was taking some riding. I knew Coco could do it, I just needed to give him the chance to! Our warm up was perfect and he did hit a fence outside which is not really like him and I think that made him really think where his feet were. We went in and he jumped the most lovely clear and again the best round I feel we have jumped together. The bigger the fences get, the better he jumps! There were only 9 show jumping clears out of 52 horses and this meant we climbed the leader board to 2nd place.. pressure on! See his Show Jumping HERE. At this point mum and I went to walk the course again to confirm the lines I was going to take and how I needed to ride the course to give us the best chance of making the time. Confident of what I needed to do, we had a lovely dinner in the rugby club with a friend who was also competing there and then got an early night, only after watching Ice Age Two, The Meltdown - perfect Cross Country Day Prep!!
So Cross Country Day was upon us, and it was only going to be our sixth round together. Our start time was 10.12. So we had everything ready and organised so I could get on at 9.20, give him 25 minutes on the flat and then mum could grease him before heading up to the Cross Country warm up area for 9.50 - giving us 20 minutes to jump, and check all was in order. At 9.15 I went to get my gloves off the table and they were nowhere in sight. How could this have happened - I had put everything ready! I blamed the dog - mum just thought I had put them somewhere stupid or dropped them. Eventually to stop me being late I had to put my other pair on which aren't nearly as nice. I started warming up and mum appeared... The dog had taken them, and buried them, in the middle of the haylage we had brought with us... Unimpressed! However at least I had them! The warm up went perfectly again and I was ready to go. He just ate up the course, making absolutely nothing of it. Our only iffy moment if you could call it that was when I had a slight loss of control down the hill before fence 5, but as soon as he saw the fence he set himself up and backed off. Which is a lovely feeling and has been a huge factor into why we have been able to get going as soon as we have!!
The result was a clear inside the time, meaning I was to finish no worse than 2nd! Not bad for only our sixth event together!! I did end up finishing 2nd, but I am delighted with that. I have to thank mum for driving me everywhere this year and Liz and Kari for buying me such an awesome horse to compete, I am so grateful for all they have done for me... Bring on next year!!
Another huge thank you has to go to Tracy Brown who has improved my flatwork riding beyond belief, and although there is still a long way to go, I have proved that I can ride a good enough dressage test to win events! She has also helped me with my jumping and I would not have had these results without her. My last big thank you has to go to my AMAZING sponsors, Simple System Ltd. They have been on hand to help us get the horses diet right all year and this has ensured the horses have been at their best to perform. And you can see from all my pictures how well all my horses look on their feed. I would recommended to everyone - it really does work and bring the results, it is also very convenient being able to target feed meaning the horses have enough energy for the work they need to do but without letting them put on weight. Also, Gill Maybury Chiropractor (Ie. Mum!) who I am very lucky to have on hand to keep the horses in one piece, and it is reassuring to know that if I feel the horse isn't quite right she is there to check them over and more often than not find the cause of the problem!
So that is it.. Eventing season is over. Coco is now having a short break and the others are keeping ticking over for a month or so before picking them up for a winter of dressage and show jumping. With the aim of jumping some Foxhunters on Coco and Newcomers on Lily and we will be ready to come out all guns blazing next season!
Thats all for now
Ps. To see all the pictures of Coco at Aldon, please visit the GALLERY page
So the next couple of weeks have flown past and the season is quickly reaching its finale. That can only mean one thing, a winter of freezing cold indoor show jumping! But as they say, perfect practice makes perfect and that is what I am trying to achieve.
So what has been going on? Well we were at Pulborough BE last Friday with both Lily and Coco. Lily was doing her first BE100 - see the video HERE. She was on fantastic form and a generally good test with a couple of young horse mistakes left us on a very respectable 33.5. She was rather cheeky in the Show Jumping, however it was really spooky. So she had a stop at the planks. But after a quick and positive discussion she decided she would jump after all and flew round clear. But the result was 4 jumping and 6 time. Then on to the cross country and I was quite worried as it was technical and although she has been going better and better cross country it was a big step up. However I needn't have worried. Steps, ditches and even a step into water and she flew them all so I was delighted. They had done a fantastic job but the ground was deep in places so to jump clear in those conditions was even better.
Coco was also fantastic. He did what we thought was the best test we have done together, unfortunately the judge disagreed and gave us a 40.5, but the best score was a 33 so it wasn't too bad in the circumstances. A silly pole coming out of the double was a shame as he jumped the most beautiful round, but there were only 3 clears in my section! Cross country he was just fab. He tries so hard to please but makes it all so easy. Getting lost resulted in 4.4 time faults but with all that it was still good enough for 4th. Clever pony! We used Target feeding with Lily and Coco at Coombelands, to give them some specific energy and also as they spent a long time in the lorry so it gave them a change of food. It is a really good way of getting water into them through soaked Lucie Nuts if they don't drink.
Then on to Felbridge yesterday. Lily and Ozzie were in the BE100 and Coco in the Novice. Lily was really good, and did a good test for a 35 which was fair. She then was rather exuberant in the show jumping and had one down, otherwise she would have been placed. Ozzie decided that I was asking for canter most of the way through my trot serpentines so we lost a lot of marks, but apart from that he did a nice test so a 41 it was but that was because of two major mistakes. He then was rather spooky in the show jumping but got going and jumped a lovely clear! Coco then did a lovely test, which I rode in sitting trot as a practice for Aldon next weekend. The judge just said he looked a bit tense because he wasn't tracking up, so I need to make sure I still ride him forwards enough when I am in the sitting trot. He got a 33.5 and show jumped clear to win! So a good final prep before Aldon!
Today we were at Larkhill with Lily in the BE90 to put our Spring problems to rest. The dressage was slightly entertaining as the army had their morning marathon during my warm up and test and 50 men runnning and shouting through the middle of the dressage warm up didn't help the tension in any of the horses. So I was pleased with a 35 as she was a bit on edge, but was working really well. The show jumping was very small, but she jumped such a lovely relaxed clear and I was really working on being soft myself to allow her to be more smooth round the corners. Well it worked. Cross country was technical enough, but she was so classy. She popped round like it was nothing and felt like a different horse to the one I had in the Spring. She landed over a fence, her ears would prick and she would be off again which was lovely. So not an easy season with her but we came up with the goods in the end. I feel really proud of what I have achieved with her as I have done it all myself in terms of getting her over all her worries. Which is all the cross country problems were. She simply didn't understand. She is now loving it and I can't wait to get her out and crack on next season!
Thats all for now.
Well where to begin! So much has been going on since my last update that I haven't had time to write a new blog, so apologies in advance if this rambles on for what seems like forever!
The Paralympics seems a sensible starting point, although I'm gutted it has now finished and London 2012 really has been and gone. But what a spectacle we put on, I think I am right in saying that it has exceeded all expectations.
What an inspiration the Paralympians were. I think it is fantastic that the general public have finally got to see how truly amazing these athletes are. I was lucky enough to get to visit The Paralympic Village thanks to Lee Frawley who did herself proud with her horse Rhapsody whilst representing the US Virgin Islands. Mum, Dad and I also went to the closing ceremony and I was even lucky enough to be included in the invitation to Team GB house first where all the Gold Medal winning Paralympians were having a photo with their medals. I had a lovely chat with Sophie Christiansen about Royal Holloway and what it was like which was really helpful. I also met Aled Davies, the Discus Gold and Shot Putt Bronze medalist. Mum nearly had a heart attack as Tony Hadley (I know I didn't know who he was.. Apparently the lead singer from Spandau Ballet [look it up if you don't know]) sang Gold with all the Gold medallists behind him, and I have to say it was incredible. The closing ceremony was also fantastic so bring on Rio 2016 is all I can say! I did feel genuinely lost when there was no longer any sport to watch on the tv from London 2012. Then the football season restarted and I felt even worse!
Anyway back to the horses who I have to say (touch wood) have been going great guns! So I am hoping this season will end with a bang! On the 5th of September I took, and passed my Pony Club AH exam. It was an exhausting day but in a weird way was quite enjoyable. My only really dodgey area was my lunging but that was a border pass.. Onwards and upwards to my riding now and if anyone has any tips or advice for my pony club A test please get in touch!
On friday the 7th of September we headed to Blenhiem for the Pony Club Eventers Challenge. Ozzie hadn't quite come right in time so we took Punch instead! I have to say he flew, one of the best rounds we have ever jumped together and he made it feel so easy. He was one of very few clear rounds, as a result we finished 3rd in the style competition out of around 140 competitors. The team was just a bit unlucky and finished on a total of 8 faults which was just outside the placings. However an enjoyable day had by all.
On the 15th of September we headed to Pycombe for some affiliated show jumping with Punch and Coco. Punch took exception to one of the fences in the 90 Amatuer 2nd round but after a sharp reminder of what his job was he flew round. I then jumped both Punch and Coco in the 1 meter Amatuer first round. They both jumped beautifully to finish 4th and 5th respectively.
On the Sunday it was Lilys turn at Munstead BE90. I have to say she was feeling incredible. A huge thanks to Simple System for helping us to sort her feeding out appropriately as she feels a different horse now that she is a bit fitter and her diet is suitable. She did a 30.5 dressage, and a thoroughly deserved mark too, she went really really well. A minor strop at the pole pickers chairs in the arena lead to a silly fence down in the show jumping ( she is definitely ready to move up a level in terms of the show jumping) but a beautiful clear inside the time cross country left us fifth so I was really pleased with her. She felt like a different horse on the cross country, I think she is finally getting it so hopefully we can crack on now and really get going. Especially if we can go show jumping and jump some bigger tracks this winter.
Next up was South of England Novice with Coco, in attempts to get our 2nd Novice clear cross country so that we could go to Aldon CIC*. His dressage was so much better, it was much more engaged and as a result he was more rideable. I think that has come from us starting to build a real partnership so he trusts me more. Show jumping, he jumped really well and just had 2 fences down which was a shame. One he barely touched, and the other I think he just took his eye off slightly. But he jumped really well so I wasn't too disappointed. Cross country was causing a lot of trouble, and as a result was running really late. I started panicking that I wasn't going to get to run, but thankfully due to the efficiency of the starting team they managed to get everyone round, so a huge thanks to them. Apart from a sticky moment coming out of the water at fence 3 and then having to take the long route a couple of fences later due to him being a bit worried he flew round. He gives me so much confidence and makes it feel so easy, I feel very lucky to have such a lovely horse to ride.
On the Sunday after South of England we thought we would go to Pachesham unaffiliated dressage to practice. Mum rode Lily and did really well getting over 71% in the Prelim and 63% in the novice. Considering the weather and the lack of warm up for the Novice test, it was a great result. The weather was foul, horizontal freezing cold rain is unpleasant at the best of times, however practice makes perfect (I tell myself anyway!) Punch was also really good and won one test on 66% and was 2nd in the other on 64%. I also took Ozzie along to the party as he was feeling left out! I wasn't holding out much hope as I had the wrong bit and 10 minutes warm up. But to prove how far his dressage has come (Thank you so much Tracey) he got 66% and won the class - he even got a 9! I love my mad little grey pony!
On the Tuesday it was Lilys turn again, this time at BCA. With her all sorted in the dressage by mum I went feeling positive that we could perform to our best, and we did. A 24.5 dressage, she did go really fantastically (thank you mum, you can ride her again!) A rather energetic but clear show jumping round meant that it was game on cross country provided I could stay on in the warm up! Well I managed to and as soon as we came out the start her mind was totally on the job in hand. She popped round so well I dont think I could have made her stop to be perfectly honest! The result of it all was that she WON! I am so pleased that my hard work has finally payed off and I feel set up and ready to tackle the BE100 with her at Coombelands on Friday!
Then on Saturday we were off to Dauntsey with Punch, for his BE100 regional final. Third time lucky I kept telling myself. To say the day was stressful was an understatement. He did a fantastic test, and I felt that it was one of the best tests I had ever ridden on him. After the dressage we then had a nervewracking wait before the show jumping. Some of the time was used up walking the cross country, the rest of the time I used to make myself as nervous as possible as we decided it was best if we hadn't seen the dressage marks!! Then it was show jumping time. The warm up was really deep and Punch was hating it, even touching fences which he never does. So more nervous than ever I went into the ring. Well he jumped his heart out, if there were marks for trying, Punch would win every time. The ground was sticky, so what did he do, jump a good 3 inches bigger! So a clear round it was, and I have never been so relieved as my dressage mark was 32. This was in 5th after the dressage, so I knew a clear inside the time would stand us with half a chance of qualifying!
He flew round making nothing of it, he is such a pleasure to ride cross country as he has such an easy rhythm and jumps out of it. It is a really lovely feeling being able to trust a horse to jump from anywhere sensible. So a clear inside the time it was, and then for the nervous wait.
One person had 2 time faults and dropped behind us, but a girl finished 0.7 in front of my score and was read out as 3rd, making me 4th. We weren't sure if it was 3 or 4 that would qualify. However my hopes were quickly dashed when it was the top 20% of 15 starters, meaning it was exactly 3. I was so disappointed as it is really my last chance at Grassroots, because if I do step Coco up to intermediate next year, that would be it. However we then had a call from a friend to say one of the people read out before me had actually had a stop, and that she thought I was 3rd. So after a nervous wait it was confirmed that I was 3rd!! I am sooo sooo pleased as Punch really deserves it, he is so consistent. So as long as we can keep him in one piece we will be heading to Badminton next spring, and our biggest aim.. To enjoy the experience! It will also I'm sure, inspire me to ride in the 4* there even more than I already want to!! I can't wait!!
Anyway - I think that is enough of my ramblings and just three events left now *sob* - the season feels like it hasn't even started. So Pulborough on Friday, Larkhill on Sunday 14th and Aldon the weekend of the 19th/20th! So this is it, and a round up and an update at the end!
If you want to keep up with more regular updates then please follow me on twitter .. @GEWeventing
More to come soon and sorry for the endless ramblings