Sorry for the rather delayed report on our brilliant day at Kelsall Hill on Easter Monday, I’ve had a very busy week at work this week! It was to be Ali’s first intermediate ever and Donovan’s first since coming back from injury. It took us just over 2.5hrs to get up to Cheshire but we had quite a good run and it’s mostly motorway so not a bad journey for the horses. We left at 6am to get there in plenty of time to walk the course before we started dressage. I hadn’t been to this event before but the course was beautifully built and a great flowing, inviting course but with plenty of questions including quite a tricky corner-spread-corner combination at fence 9 and a big drop down to very narrow triple brush at 17. See course photos here. The biggest difference between the Novice courses we had done though is the width of the spread fences that start to look rather big at this level!!
Both horses did quite good dressage tests. Ali did a consistent test, which will improve further when I ride her more forward (as shown by Nick in my lesson on Thursday when just was just “wow”!) but still scored a great 27.7. Donovan got a bit tense in his neck and again I need to ride more forward but scored 31.4 Back onto Ali for the show jumping, which was in a nice big ring and compared to what I’d been jumping in practice didn’t look too huge! Although it did have a treble, double off a tricky “dog leg” from a big spread and a water tray. Ali jumped brilliantly, she really tried showing great technique especially through the treble and just took the first part of the double out behind as I interfered too late coming into it. Despite riding this fence slightly differently on Donovan, we then had it down in front! Again though other than this her jumped well – so both had 4 faults show jumping, which I was quite pleased with as this is the phase I am weakest in (not them…!)
Donovan patiently waiting for dressage
Onto the XC… Ali was first and felt really up for it, she took a stride out to the first and was keen to get going! She felt amazing over all the bigger fences and was just fab through the combinations taking on everything like she’d done it many times before. I was thrilled to cross the finish line clear with her having made it feel so easy and later saw that we had only picked up 3.2 time penalties – brilliant considering I was by no means going for the time (and had no idea what I was doing time wise as had a slight watch malfunction at the start!)
Onto Donovan, with the feeling of slightly more pressure as he had been at intermediate level before his injury and my more inexperienced horse had gone clear so he had better follow suit!! He can at times not be quite a reliable at the technical fences and is bigger for me than Ali. I should have trusted him though as he was great too through all the combinations, including the triple brush after the drop, which I had considered taking the alternative for. He picked up 9.2 time penalties and I just need slightly more brakes so I don’t have to spend as much time slowing down for the combinations wasting precious time!
Donovan flying over one of the big spreads 🙂
Ali finished the day on a brilliant score of 34.9 for 5th and Donovan was 12th in his section on 44.6 – all in all a rather fantastic day eventing 🙂
We had a good day at the 2* training/assessment day on Wednesday on Ali with Richard Waygood and Jonathon Chapman at Boomerang EC. Richard was very helpful at the end of the dressage session and worked us round for a few minutes as she was rather bright to start with!!
Later we had fun trying out the team test and how this works with 6 horses in a 60x20m arena all at once!
Having a go at the team test
In the afternoon we jumped round a short course and she was jumping really well definitely getting more comfortable in a more forward rhythm (for both of us!), now I just need to sit quieter and keep the rhythm to the fences without doing nothing!!
Donovan came along too and had lots of fun pinging round the XC course! He jumped everything brilliantly and was great at all the skinnies, which I practiced lots ready for his intermediate.
I’ve been on call this weekend so no pony parties but I have galloped one day and jumped the other on both horses. Also popped on Flicka (rising 4) this evening, who hadn’t been worked for over a week and was good as gold to get straight on and went very well in work and trot with balance in canter improving, she has lovely paces!
What a difference a week makes! Although the sun didn’t shine all day, it was much warmer than last week and rather than freezing rain we got quite warm walking the cross country course, especially as we arrived a little later than planned. The ground was really good and it was a flowing course with plenty of questions. After getting her studs in and tacking up we were ready with just enough time to work in for the dressage. She felt much more relaxed that at Gatcombe and I had worked her on the flat in the field a couple of times at home in between. I worked on keeping her forward and more up in front of me to keep the balance and it paid off! Despite having alpacas just the other side of the hedge (which she suprisingly barely took any notice of) she performed a lovely test with just one rather tense movement to score a fantastic 24.5! To see a video of her dressage click here.
Our dressage sheet, including a 9 for her extended walk!
Onto the show jumping and quite a technical course, which was catching quite a few out, including a double, treble and tricky final related distances with planks at the last fence. My main aim was to keep her more forward and not interfere with her in front of the fence. I think we stuck to the game plan and just got slightly to onward bound into the treble having an unlucky pole at the third element for 4 faults. To see a video of our SJ round click here.
Going into cross country I knew if we could get close to the time we’d be in with a good chance of being close to the placings at least. She started off, again much more relaxed than at Gatcombe, taking a longer stride and covering the ground better (no long wait today). This continued all the way round and she jumped brilliantly making the time easily – very promising as our next run will be our first at intermediate. To see a video of some of our XC round click here. So this meant Ali gained her first ever British Eventing win, so proud of our little homebred!
A very happy Ali grazing after her cross country
Tomorrow we have training/assessment day for the European 2* squad and Donovan’s coming along for some XC schooling, so more updates soon. (Will also add photos of XC course and a happy Ali when I get chance!)