I should have learnt by now that with horses, nothing ever goes quite as planned. I went to Weston feeling quietly confident that we could finish up with a decent placing (that will teach me!)
As I had done a last minute swap, I was 3rd last to go in my section, which meant late Friday dressage. On the Wednesday I trotted up Coco and also Lucyanna Westaway's Tiggr (Raindance III) who both flew through without trouble. On the Thursday Charli White and her horse Sienna were doing their dressage so we made sure we went and supported her as we have been in Pony Club teams together since the beginning. We had a lovely set up at Weston as Charli, Lucy and I had our lorries parked next to each other and we all ate together which made it extremely sociable!
Friday was dressage day and in hindsight I should have worked him on the Friday morning as he was too fresh when it came to the test. He warmed up amazingly but once he got in there he went a bit tense, and when he goes tense you need to be Charlotte Dujardin to sit to his trot (well not quite but I can no longer sit on it!) I then get a bit tight through my leg and as a result give him unclear aids which was a shame as a lot of mistakes crept in leaving us on a score of 64. However I had the cross country to go out and enjoy the next day and that is exactly what I did.
Unfortunately the course was very straightforwards and the time was really easy to make, which led to a pretty uneventful day. However Coco switched on cruise control and jumped round faultlessly! I had one worrying moment when my stopwatch went for minute 7 and I was 250 metres behind my marker, until I checked my watch and it was 6 minutes that had just gone and as a result I was 45 seconds up on the clock! I never pushed him, but because the course was way within his comfort zone I never had to set up and really ride anything, just jumped out of a rhythm. However he has again confirmed what an amazing cross country horse he is. We really upped his feed in the lead up to Weston, still on Simple System, but just a lot more of the high energy feeds such as Red Grass Pellets. We have also found Topnosh to be amazing for keeping condition and Coco doesn't hold condition that easily, yet the day after cross country at Weston, you wouldn't have really known he had run, a credit to the system as a whole. If you are interested in finding out more, please take a look at their website www.simplesystemhorsefeeds.co.uk and I am sure they will be more than happy to help you on deciding what would most benefit your horse.
Sunday morning is always a worry, but he came out looking great so thought the trot up would run smoothly and I could get on with the show jumping (another big mistake!) We got up to the trot up and the rain was driving in, and no one was organising it resulting in total carnage. Eventually our turn came and he trotted away really well but as I turned to come back the rain was in his face and he didn't really trot. I was then asked to trot again at which point I panicked slightly as he was still reluctant and this only made a bad situation worse. We were sent to the holding box and the vet poked and poked until he thought he had found something and pretty much told the ground jury to fail us. We trotted again and he trotted fine but fail us they did and that was that.
When we got home we trotted him on a circle on the hard and he was totally sound, there has been no soreness or swelling, so frustrating but the main thing is that the horse is in one piece. Moral to the story is never take the trot up for granted as once you have been held you are doomed to fail! Therefore every time it is raining this winter I am going to practice trotting up and then I am never going to have the same problem again.
Now both horses have had a short rest and are back in work. Lily will get too fat if left any longer and Coco is the type of horse that is better off working - otherwise he will just find a way to injure himself in his boredom!
Going forwards it will be dressage, dressage and more dressage. One of my aims next season is to consistently produce tests which are worthy of a sub 30s mark, so regardless of what the mark actually is, I want the work in the test to be deserving of 7s the whole way through. Show jumping is going to play a big part too as I would love to do an Advanced Intermediate next season with Coco and step Lily up to Intermediate Novice. I want to get Lilys newcomers double clears in to jump her in 2nd rounds next year too.
Winter Goals as follows;
So not much to work on really. I am lucky enough to be receiving a sports bursary from my uni for riding, being awarded £400 over the next year which I am planning on using for training purposes to allow me to achieve my goals and come out ready to win next season!
So I have had my first couple of weeks of combining University and eventing! Although I would much rather be carrying on my Gap Year and riding horses everyday, I am enjoying uni (although I don't want to admit it!!) The place is amazing, I am living in Founders when I am there which is the gorgeous Victorian building in the middle of campus! I have met some really lovely people and tried out for both the riding and the hockey teams, finding out that I have made the riding A team after our trials last week. The trials weren't entirely smooth when one poor girl ended up angling across a high cross pole as she couldn't really steer, and the horse caught a knee and came down, which was really scary. The girl ended up in A&E with a broken collar bone, so not a good start!
Back to the horses, and the really exciting news is that I have passed my Pony Club A test on my first attempt. It was a long tough day and I thought I had blown it after I had a couple of stops on one of the jumping horses in the morning, when it seemed to be a good jumper. However it turned out that someone had had a couple of falls off it previous to me getting on and so it had really lost its confidence. They were generally very pleased with my jumping riding and pleased with my flat riding on the first 2 horses but thought I was getting tired on the 3rd flat horse. Luckily I had proved enough before that and they passed me!! I am one of just 6 out of 16 people who took their test this Autumn to pass it. So a big thank you must go out to everyone and anyone who helped me to achieve this!
We headed off to Gatcombe for dressage on the Friday, and he worked in absolutely beautifully, probably did some of the best work I have ever got from him anywhere. Unfortunately we had a few mistakes creep in during the test resulting in a score of 64.4 but it was a very harsh marking section. With a winter of work put into his dressage we will be ready to post very competitive scores at that level next season, and I am already eyeing up the AI at South of England!! I moved my stuff into uni on the Saturday which worked really well and I met a few of the people on my floor! Then back to Gatcombe on the Sunday. He was absolutely mega cross country, a course where only 37 out of the 100 that started completed the course without penalties. Unfortunately we were given 20 penalties for a run out at one of the simplest fences on the course which we didn't have a run out at. The good news is that he was seriously classy round a very tricky track so going forwards I am very confident in his ability. However to cut a long story short I decided that I might retire but then changed my mind which resulted in 129 time faults. We tried to object but it wasn't accepted so we decided to pull him out of the show jumping in the hope that we may get him to South of England the following weekend. Unfortunately we didn't, so no 2* qualification for us, therefore we are heading to Weston Park for the CCI* ( with the aim of winning!!) However after finding he was a little lack lustre cross country at Nunney and Wellington we thought he could do with a bit more of a boost from his feed. We decided to try him on some Red Grass Nuts to give him that little bit more sparkle and I have to say I think it has made the world of difference. He is the first horse we have ever had to feed up on the Simple System feeds, but he is at the highest level we have had a horse whilst on the feeds and they seem to do all our event horses fantastically well!
Meanwhile Lily has finished brilliantly over her last 2 events of the season. She headed to South of England last weekend for the Novice and her first run since Smiths Lawn at the beginning of August. Her dressage was inconsistent which was reflected in the marks (4s and 8s and everything in between!) Which resulted in a 37.5. Show jumping she was really jumping, but I just sat a little bit quiet into a rustic oxer away from the collecting ring and she stopped. But she came round again and popped it and finished the course beautifully, it was frustrating as she was really jumping but these things happen and I just need to remember to keep riding her even when shes jumping well!! I was thrilled with her cross country however. She was seriously classy and flew round, taking all the straight routes over a course which asked enough questions. But now she is understanding it she feels amazing! See the video of her jumping by CLICKING HERE
This weekend we headed off the Dauntsey with her for her last run of the season. I was not really sure whether we should go on Friday night as she had gone so well at South of England and I had heard a couple of reports that it had been a bit wet and slippery. However in the end I decided that between various factors we had missed out on so many runs this season so we would go. I am so glad I did! She was seriously classy.. again the dressage was inconsistent, so that is what we will be working on over the winter. By the end of this winter my aim is to have her gaining 60%+ at elementary level as she is more than capable! She scored a slightly harsh 38 as it wasn't as bad as last weeks! None the less she more than made up for it in the jumping with a foot perfect double clear. In the show jumping, our warm up wasn't that perfect, not really helped when she got run into by one of William Fox-Pitts horses (wrong place wrong time) but I was very glad she resisted the urge to kick it or it could have been very embarrasing!! She got in there and switched on, I feel it is one of the best rounds I have ridden on her, I had the power into my hand and she found it so easy, I love having a horse with her scope and power as she is still playing over 1,10m. Show jumping aim for the winter is Foxhunter with an overall aim to qualify for Newcomers 2nd rounds again next year!! Cross country she started off a little sticky, not helped by my total inability to see a stride in the warm up - poor horse! Once we had the first four fences behind us she switched on and just motored round! I couldn't have faulted her. She is so straight and genuine - so it just goes to show that giving her time to get established at BE90 last year was really worth it. She has done 4 BE100s and 4 Novices this year. With last year doing 8 BE90s and 1 BE100 having xc penalties at 3 of them, and this year there hasn't been a flicker of worry at any event I have done! She finishes the season with a total of 4 grown up points and I am really proud of her! A winter of Show jumping and dressage and we will be ready to come out fighting for a Spring 1* and a late summer Intermediate! See her Show Jump at Dauntsey by CLICKING HERE
Coco went to Felbridge BS today as a prep run for Weston. He was awesome, we jumped in the Novice Championship which is where the first half is 1.10m and the second half 1.20m. He jumped an awesome double clear to finish just out of the prizes in 7th place! Not bad for an eventer! See Coco's round by CLICKING HERE
I have realised this has ended up as a bit of an essay - but so much has gone on since my last update!
Weston this week and then thats it for the season and I will be counting the days until we can go eventing again!! I have big aims for next year, so just watch this