Aston Dassett Eventing 8/9yo Advanced ~ An Amateur’s Perspective!

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.

Showing her brilliant technique show jumping!

Showing her brilliant technique show jumping! Photo thanks to Matt Nuttall Photography

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!!!


Flying the advanced hedge!                                     Photo thanks to Matt Nuttall Photography

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.



Ali ~ Barbury CIC** and BD Medium Regionals

Quick report from last weekend plus dressage today… sorry, bit behind on event reports as so busy!!

Overall after a good build up we had a slightly disappointing event but most definitely made up for by Ali being so awesome cross country!  Also on the plus side I know exactly what and where things went wrong ~ she scored 50.9 in the dressage, very average for what she can do but I think it all stemmed from me not getting her properly in front of the leg in the warm up as she was being so relaxed!  So when slightly tense in the arena she totally ignored me… however, dressage we have certainly put right and made up for today at the British Dressage Regional Medium Restricted Championships at Somerford Park ~ she scored a fantastic 69.05% to finish in 2nd and qualify for Nationals! Video of this to follow.

Working in medium trot today at the British Dressage Regionals

Working in medium trot today at the British Dressage Regionals

Show jumping at Barbury was a bit of a write off too and on watching this back I think the large slope on top of which we had to jump some fences really bothered her so she was tense and short in her stride and this affected her jump too.  I’ve managed to have a lesson with Nick this week though and she was brilliant so hopefully all back on track and she’ll be fine again in a “normal” arena.

Working round at Barbury - having a stretch!

Working round at Barbury – having a stretch!

XC she was just amazing, compared to Nunney I really put my foot down and answered every question!  See course photos here.  The course is so good for viewing at Barbury too that Dad did a fabulous job and got almost the whole course on video – see here!

Next weekend we have our (and my) first Advanced at Aston Le Walls so fingers crossed!!