Salperton Horse Trials Report

Our first event for 5 weeks! We were at Salperton both days, first with Donovan for the Advanced Intermediate (AI) and then Ali for the Novice Regional Final (NRF).  Such a lovely setting and a fantastic well run event – very lucky to have lots of sun too!

I thought it would be good fun to do an AI with Donovan, also it was good to practice doing a long arena test with more lateral work in it (plus wear my top hat and tails!!) I ended up following the Badminton winning combination into the arena – how many sports can you say that you have competed in the same class as the winner of the biggest competition in the sporting calendar!!!  Donovan worked in quite well…




He did a solid test, if not a little spooky at the flowers (will he ever grow out of this…), which meant he was slightly tense in a couple of movements.  I felt his lateral work was quite good and he kept the forwardness during these movements, which we have been working on – the message from the judges was a little confused with them contradicting each other at times (always a bit irritating!).  He scored a reasonable 36 to be just outside the top half after dressage – not bad considering the company!

Show jumping would be the biggest course we had ever jumped (apart from practicing “clear round” at Moores Farm).  He just clipped the 4th fence, which was causing a lot of faults (seemed to riding as quite a short distance), then I was annoyed with myself for over-checking at 2 other fences causing one to fall and a very awkward jump at the last – he was a very good boy to make such an effort to jump and leave it standing but did almost catapult me out of the saddle in the process.  I think it just shows how much better you ride when riding more horses at home – with Ali having been off work I have only jumped Donovan at the bigger heights so am not as practiced – I am certain this is another big reason the professionals, who ride many horses every day have an advantage over us as amateurs!  Looking back, although I was disappointed with my riding when I came out of the arena 8 faults in our first AI is ok and the rest of the round felt good and I did ride forward most of the way!!

Onto the XC and the problem… I have been working on Donovan’s fitness as he can struggle to make the time, well he is definitely fitter… and now too strong for little me!  He was back to his ways before his injury – fab on first part of the course but when it comes to the combinations/skinnies, I just couldn’t get him back or “up” enough.  So we are off XC schooling this afternoon and trying out Ali’s little tom thumb gag – she uses it with roundings… Donovan will not!!

See pictures of the intermediate XC course at Salperton here.

Onto Sunday and Ali – I was lucky not to have too early times and had walked the course saturday evening before we left so we had more time to get ready in the morning.  It was rather touch and go as to whether she would get to the event at all having only been ridden for 7 days before the event, then on the morning in her excitement while I was bathing and plaiting she was coughing a bit again – argh!  I had already decided as Salperton is fairly local we would go and do dressage and see how she felt, doing the same onto SJ if ok etc.

Again she coughed a few times in the dressage warm up (“why is she doing this… no coughing at all for good few days at home while working”) but she worked in quite well.  She performed what we felt was a reasonable test, with no mistakes other than a slip in one medium canter but simple changes could have been more direct we felt… but as always (we find) in dressage you can never predict your mark – she scored 22.3 to finished second only to Mr William Fox Pitt after the dressage phase!!

We decided to go over to SJ warm up and again see how she felt – we powered over and as soon as she saw the coloured poles she felt rather excited, which I was pleased about.  She was just fabulous to jump and did a beautiful clear round trying so hard to pick her toes up all the way round a tricky track, which was causing lots of faults including time.  With the horse in first position gaining 2 time penalties we edged into the lead (which never bodes well I find….)


See a video of Ali’s round here

Onto XC and me willing the commentator to “pipe down” about our lead etc. etc. at the start!!!  My plan was to take it steady and ensure she felt ok… she had other ideas and was off feeling amazing as usual.  She jumped the rather upright gate into the woods about double the height required!!  But what could have been an amazing comeback was all lost when I just didn’t ride her correctly to the skinny up the hill out of the water and paid the penalty.  I was so cross with myself and felt I had let her down so badly as she really deserved to go to championships being so amazing all day, she has never before faulted at a skinny so was all my fault.

Certainly a weekend of lows 😦 but must try to focus on the positives and hope that I can find my brakes on Donovan and that Ali is now fit to go to Barbury 2* with both of them.



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