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…!)
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!
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 🙂