We left quite early yesterday to travel down to Dauntsey Park Horse Trials on the hottest day of the year so far! We walked the cross country as soon as we arrived and the organisers had been hard at work watering the whole course so there was some give in what otherwise would have been rock hard ground. Everyone was grateful that we could run cross country because of all the efforts put in by the whole team at Dauntsey. The Novice course looked challenging with a few new questions that Ali hadn’t seen before in competition including a decent sized bounce coming out of the first water jump. Todd was very pleased to be walking with us and enjoyed splashing in the water jumps too, ready to settle down in the cool shade under to lorry for the rest of the day!
So it was back to the lorry for a quick drink and to get Ali ready for the dressage. They were kindly letting us ride without jackets on so it felt rather strange wearing my number over just my shirt! Despite the heat Ali warmed up beautifully and although she was a little spooky especially at the start of her test she scored her best yet at Novice 29.5, which is exciting knowing that there is still room for improvement. It is a local event for many of the professionals and it is fantastic that in our sport you are competing against the riders at the very top level!
After a frustrating wait of over an hour at the showjumping, she jumped well but had an unlucky pole at the third fence where I didn’t quite push on quick enough for the related distance and when I did she was a tad slow to respond and gave it a tiny touch. But it was onto cross country with still a competitive score of 33.5.
I had a bit of a shock when I got to the cross country warm up as Sir Mark Todd was stewarding! Ali needed a bit of a wake up after nearly tripping over the first practice fence (short moment when I thought I may fall off in the warm up… now that would have been embarrassing!) She started out on the cross country well though and was galloping on well, she coped with all of the more tricky fences including a large step up to a skinny brush and 3 strides later back down the step, pinged over the bounce after the slope out of the water and jumped the log in the water near the end of the course nicely, the first time she had jumped a fence in the middle of water. She felt fab even at the end of the course and handled the heat well, we got home with just 2 time penalties to finish on 35.5
Back at the lorry there was lots of cooling off and icing of legs to be done. Then time to chill and eat!
She finished up in 8th place gaining her 3rd BE point! So all in all a great day.