I’m not sure I realised that the Dassett Eventing 8/9yo Advanced at Aston would have quite such a prestigious feel to it. To the professionals, I don’t think getting a bucket and cap (along with human and horse sweeties) with your programme would mean a lot, but it showed to me (and I think other amateurs would understand) that just getting here was quite an achievement AND on our homebred at just 8yo! The new arenas at the ever brilliant Aston Le Walls also helped with atmosphere and dressage going on near the hub of the trade stands.
This class had been our tentative aim at the beginning of the season as despite missing most of the summer season last year with a virus and with less competition experience that I would have liked under her belt this year, her XC rounds at the last few CIC** we have done felt brilliant! To be honest, she has always amazed us with how much she had loved the cross country and just flown! So, after our double clear at Nunney CIC** I bit the bullet and entered our (and my…) first advanced.
We drove up on the Friday having already booked a stable in case of Friday dressage, so walked the course in the pouring rain later on that day whilst the first advanced section were doing XC… I did not envy them and was pleased I wasn’t having to compete in the dull downpour! However, it meant the ground for us on Saturday was fantastic.
With a stable for the night, we had a fairly leisurely Saturday morning. Dressage was delayed slightly because the Air Ambulance had to take off from the Taylor’s front lawn after an early nasty fall at the second last XC, which Mum and I unfortunately witnessed when over collecting our number – ever increasing Mum’s need for a stiff drink (or a few…) The stewards were very apologetic at turning me away but Ali was good going back to the lorry park and we started again half an hour later. She worked well and I was really happy with our mark of 32.1 to be in the top 10 after dressage despite our second flying change being late (though still true… good girl!) and a rather unbalanced extended trot at the end. Only our first advanced test and loads to improve on so rather exciting score at this stage! See the video of our test here. After this it was off for my second walk of the cross country, useful also watching others ride round – fence 8, a bounce of brushes onto a bank and fairly tight left turn to a skinny triple brush, seemed to be causing the most problems. See course photos here.
The show jumping was twisty and technical with fences coming up quickly, so I knew I would have to be on the ball and get her forward and well in front of my leg before we approached the first fence. I was thrilled with how she jumped the first 3 on a forward 5 then 4 strides. She really tried all the way round and especially when I gave her rather a flyer at fence 8!!! Unfortunately, she just touched the first part of the treble for 4 faults, maybe due to my not quite riding the corner as well as I could have, but still so pleased with her round and how confident we felt. See our round here.
I heard a few riders saying the first part of the cross country course “came up very quickly” – they were certainly right! The brush/pebble tray double at 4 she flew but the turn on 4 strides felt quite tight! The first water at 5 took Ali by surprise somewhat – she jumped the first log/brush well but then saw first the water then the steep slope up to ‘c’ – she was good and went but nearly losing my stirrup in the process and we regrouped to jump part d. I think this knocked her confidence a little as she felt slightly tentative to the next 2 fences. However, I rode boldly up the bounce and she turned beautifully to fly the triple brush – we were away and she felt amazing over the rest of the course barring a slightly hesitation over the decent size bounce into the second water. I was a bit concerned about the “into space” at 17a but I need not have bothered – she jumped down boldly but carefully and stayed dead straight to the shoulder brush – it all happened rather quickly though and I would love to find the photographer who I saw there earlier in the day (anybody?) to see my face!!!
With some XC time faults that we totally expected and I was actually quite pleased with not too many for our first time at this level, we finished 19th out of 55 starters – just unbelievable!!! Still on a high now!! So exciting to have such an amazing little horse (and a baby full brother)! Also Ali’s half brother (also by Take It 2 The Limit) Hartpury Sky Is The Limit won the class – ridden by Ian Wills and owned by Diana Brodie so huge well done to them.