After rescheduling and lots of hard work from all the team at Aston Le Walls, Ali and I were off to our first event of the season on Monday – the unaffiliated Novice. I had nice middle of the day times, which meant we didn’t have to leave until 8am so after feeding and mucking out, I managed to fit in a quick hack on Donovan before loading up and setting off in the sunshine (oh yes, the sun was shining at home!)
First job on arrival after a quick check of Ali was collecting our number and heading off to walk the course, unfortunately the sun didn’t follow us all the way to Aston and it was rather chilly but most importantly not raining!! See course photos here.
Ali was bright but fairly relaxed on the walk over to the dressage, which they had on grass in the far field. As we came into the field past the cross country start though, I spotted a horse fully tacked up but wearing a rug and head collar galloping flat out towards us heading back home from the dressage arenas!! I held on tight as it came past, not slowing at all straight up the track back towards the show jumping. Ali span round but I managed to keep her on the spot and turn her back round, at which point she let out a large snort!! And so we continued onto the dressage warm up…. she was a little more on her toes by this point especially once she noticed that horses were doing cross country the other side of the hedge. I got her doing lots of trotting, cantering, circling and some leg yield – she settled quite well but wasn’t enjoying the slightly sticky going. She did a reasonable test first time out on grass, which could have been a bit more relaxed for 33.
Onto the show jumping – she was a little less forward warming up indoors but once we got outside to do our round felt fantastic and jumped a lovely clear – watch a video of our round here. Ali’s favourite part has always been the cross country and today was no exception, even though it was our first time on grass (our only cross country schooling having been on the all-weather), she was feeling very keen but nicely controllable in the warm up. I decided I would try using my stop watch for the first time and had duly noted down the time allowed, adding 5 seconds so that I could press it at the beginning of my count down. She got a little excited coming towards the start box but set off well with a lovely forward jump over the first. She flew everything and was particularly fantastic through the water, taking on the 2 skinny brushes really confidently and we came home 3 seconds inside the optimum time.
A perfect first run, a very happy horse (and rider) plus a 2nd placed finish!