I managed to finish work on time today to take Donovan and Ali to Hillview Arena for show jumping training with Nick Gauntlett. Both horses performed brilliantly, feeling really confident and I felt so much better in my riding too, staying soft and managing not to interfere, letting them get on with it and jump!
Ali jumping today
For Ali this was supposed to be our pre-Aston Le Walls Novice jumping session, which was meant to be running on Monday but I found out once we’d finished jumping this has been postponed until the following Monday. So I was on the phone straight away to swap my days off, which luckily I was able to do!! Blooming weather!
I am lucky to have found some new gallops only 10mins lorry ride from home, which have a fantastic surface and are really well maintained so this will come in really useful while the ground is not good enough to be doing our fast work on grass. Contact David Dennis for hire – click here for his website.
I had a feeling that Aston may not run this weekend with all the recent rain so had entered British Dressage at Hartpury for this Saturday, so they will both get an outing. We are doing the medium tests to practice some lateral movements in competition, which are included in British Eventing from Intermediate tests upwards. They are then both entered for Gatcombe, Ali in the Intermediate Novice and Donovan, the Open Novice. I have been going through the events that both of them will be doing as long as all goes to plan – it can be tricky juggling competing around weekends on call and events that are close enough and have the correct classes for us!
I am writing this happy, firstly due to the appearance of the sun today (at last) and secondly because I’ve had a fab weekend with the horses. On friday we managed to get to Addington for the BD Regional Championships where both horses had qualified for the Elementary class. It was touch and go as to whether we would make it with the storms that just kept on coming – luckily we were finished by lunchtime and got back just as the wind was really picking up (phew!) Ali was on first and despite being rather lively at times in the warm up, performed quite well in the ring other than getting a bit tense at times. It was a great experience for her though with loads of flowers, 3 scary judges tables, plus quite a lot of outside noise for us to contend with in the big indoor. She scored 67.92% to come 6th in a class of 31 so very pleased with her. Click here to see more photos of Ali during her test.
Ali performing her last medium trot up the centre line to finish the test
Donovan was his usual spooky self but after getting him nice and forward, he relaxed well in the warm up…. this was before he saw the flowers!!! He performed a consistent test and I managed to prevent any spooks (the flowers at A were particularly scary!) We thought the test was more relaxed than Ali’s and would score him higher but in pure dressage they prefer them more active so I need to work on this whilst still keeping the relaxation with him. He scored 66.41% for 12th. It is a bit disappointing how close the marks were as the judges just don’t seem brave enough to use the high or low marks enough and personally I am finding the half marking rather strange and not particularly helpful. Click here to see more photos of Donovan during his test.
Donovan medium trot
On saturday both horses hacked and in between I took my old pony with his current little rider to their first proper dressage competition together. He was a little star as always! Then back to getting lorry reloaded for XC schooling today. We took both horses to the all weather XC schooling at Aston Le Walls in fabulous sunshine (did I mention the sun yet?…) Donovan went first today, his first time XC since his injury so I was glad of the perfect going – he felt brilliant and just took everything in his stride as if he’d never been off. I was especially pleased with how he popped over all the skinnies as in the past he has been a bit cheeky with nipping past! Fingers crossed things continue to go well and he can get out eventing again this season 🙂
On Ali I had booked a lesson with Nigel Taylor, we had a voucher that she won at their horse trials last year. She was a tad fresh to start with but just wanted to get on with the job because she loves it so much and settled the more we did, she felt great through the water, up and down steps and as always was brilliant on her line to the more tricky fences. I have put an album on my facebook page of today, click here to take a look and please like and share my page! Can’t wait to get out for our first event now!!!
We braved the storm today to take both Ali and Donovan to Allens Hill for their Eventing Training class, which consists of a dressage test then show jumping and timed simulated cross country. Both horses did the BE 111 (Novice) dressage test so good practice for the coming season and also a chance to get them in a dressage arena with scary (according to Donovan anyway) boards and markers before the British Dressage Regionals next week. Donovan was on first – he was very well behaved warming up and not too spooky (always my main problem with him) but I needed him to be a little more responsive and forward to the contact, picking up to schooling whip and the occasional flick worked well! He was terribly spooky when I took him round to the arena but kept his cadence and activity well – I was just having to ensure he did not spin round!! We completed quite an obedient test with just a few tense moments for a good score of 28.5
Then for a quick swap round onto Ali for her dressage – they were both very settled being swapped round in the lorry, which is great for when I’ll be taking them out eventing together. It has been good for Ali to go to local venues jumping etc. to get used to Donovan leaving her whilst she has to stand in the lorry – she is now much better behaved than when we first started! I was surprised how relaxed she felt when we started working in, however it was much windier in the arena so she was rather tense during the test. I even struggled to keep my balance a few times the gusts were so strong so I was just pleased that she did everything where we were supposed to! We scored a very average 34.5
Back onto Donovan for the jumping – he was much more relaxed and rideable than he had been the previous week jumping at the same venue, mainly due to the extra working in from doing the dressage first. He kept a good rhythm over the 1.10m track for a double clear and to win the class! To see the video on Donovan today click here. When I got onto Ali it started pouring with rain as well as blowing a gale, it was so bad as they were changing the track for us to jump the 1.20m track and we were working her in, I almost gave up and went home! Despite the weather, as soon as we started jumping she felt quite happy! She jumped well and kept the forward rhythm throughout much better but just clipped a rail in both SJ and XC – both were on related distances from spreads to uprights and looking back on the video I think I need to ensure I sit up without interfering too much with my hand. So this is something to work on.
As long as it is not quite as windy we are off to BD regionals on Friday at Addington Manor, then on Sunday I am excited to be going to the new all-weather XC at Aston Le Walls for schooling with Donovan and a lesson with Nigel Taylor on Ali (her great prize from their event last year).