Our first trip to Brooksby with the young horses

Brooksby was the last event of the season for 5yo Flicka and Sue Bown’s 7yo  Merlin, which we managed to fit in between Blenheim and Osberton (with Ali).  The journey was better than expected for more of a “cross country” route than I normally aim for and it was easy to find.  Show jumping was on a surface and cross country round varying terrain and at times a little twisty so a good different test for both horses.

Merlin excelled in all 3 phases.  His dressage was the best he had done all season (even though not his best mark) – he felt much stronger and more easily in self carriage.  He scored 26.8 for second place after the dressage.

Merlin during his test

Merlin during his test

The outdoor arena was quite tight to work in for show jumping so they had us in the indoor school, where Merlin was really well behaved as we’ve not really jumped indoors much.  Then I managed to pop a fence in the outdoor just before we entered the arena – he was brilliant and really listened and tried for a clear round!  All to play for and I was determined to go for the time but still needed to ensure my control for some of the turns and a few skinny questions.  The jump after the step out of the water was on a curve and quite narrow and seemed to be causing a few problems as I listened over the commentary.  See course photos here.  Merlin performed everything asked of him and is really getting the idea and jumping out of his stride on the straight forward fences so we don’t have to waste time.  A clear and well inside the time meant he finished on his dressage score for his first affiliated WIN – so thrilled for his owner Sue, who has let me compete him this year.

Sue and I at prize giving in the dark!

Sue and I at prize giving in the dark!

Flicka was also doing the BE100 after having her back sorted and feeling loads better and moving much more freely again.  She did a good test although was quite harshly marked to score 32.8

Flicka working in for the dressage

Flicka working in for the dressage

Unfortunately she was a little careless in the show jumping rolling 2 poles so we’ll be out doing lots of show jumping this winter as she is still rather inexperienced and if we want to step up to novice next year will need to get out and jump more courses!  She was also totally brilliant XC though and coped really well with the bounce of steps up, something she had never seen even schooling before and also the water, which I felt was quite a question for her with a step both in and out.  She felt really confident too and enjoyed herself a lot!  She finished in 9th so good day all round and brilliant way for them to finish the season 🙂

 

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Ali’s season finale: Blenheim and Osberton

Blenheim now seems a very long time ago and just getting there on our homebred 8yo was so exciting in itself.  Unfortunately it didn’t end on the high I was hoping for with a fall at only fence 3 on the cross country – I was gutted that I was unable to ride round what looked like a fabulous course and very worried about Ali, who seemed rather shocked and confused that we stopped our round so early on!  It was an amazing experience just being at Blenheim.  Ali scored fairly well in her first 3 star test considering the tension especially in canter in the dressage, I think mainly caused by myself, which I was cross about!!  She was about mid field after dressage on a score of 53.4

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Myself and my parents enjoyed getting dressed up to join riders and owners for the drinks reception in the palace on Thursday evening.  On Saturday we show jumped in the main arena in front of Blenheim Palace.  This was most definitely the biggest atmosphere we had ever jumped in and a technical track causing plenty of faults.  A round of applause went up for the previous horse as we cantered in, which  I think affected my nerves more than hers!!  I was thrilled with the forward rhythm we kept throughout with just 2 unlucky rails falling, the second my fault getting over enthusiastic at the last.  See the video of our round here.

Photo thanks to Pippa Jones

Photo thanks to Pippa Jones

Photo thanks to Pippa Jones

Photo thanks to Pippa Jones

Photo thanks to Pippa Jones

Photo thanks to Pippa Jones

I was fine after falling at Blenheim but Ali was very stiff – this meant she had a very quiet time between Blenheim and our first CCI** at Osberton plus 2 physio sessions with the brilliant Andrea Pole and I lasered her too.  She felt really good XC schooling the weekend before we left so I was confident she was back to herself and hoped her fitness was good enough before her unscheduled quiet time!

XC schooling at Lyneham

XC schooling at Lyneham

The weather at Osberton was lovely but mornings were chilly and rather foggy!  An early Friday dressage meant warming up in the fog…

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Ali felt brilliant but a little tension again especially after the walk meant she got a little over bent and difficult to keep moving over her back.  A bit frustrating as the work we were getting out of the arena would have scored really well but she scored 49.5 – I think it may be partly due to her being much fitter than before and hopefully practice makes perfect!!  Although she had gone well in training, I was for obvious reasons a little apprehensive before the cross country, she felt amazing working in though and was really up for it!  You can see photos of the course here.

Cross country warm up

Cross country warm up

She absolutely flew round, easily making the time and finishing full of running.  All the combinations felt easy and just skipped through the tricky step up to owl hole down to a triple brush!  Back to her normal XC best!  See some video of our round here.

Snoozing ready for trot up

Snoozing ready for trot up

She trotted up well (if not a little explosively!) on Sunday morning, so now to find out if we can show jump after the cross country – something that we had never done in competition before.  We didn’t have to jump until the afternoon so did a little getting into dressage mode again in the morning!  She worked in beautifully so just had to hold our nerve in the ring and I couldn’t really believe (as you probably can see at the end of the video) that we pulled off a fantastic clear!!  See the video of our round here.  All our British Showjumping practice has paid off!

A double clear to finish on our dressage score and pull up to 19th out of 109 starters!! What a way to finish the season and it also means she now has 68 BE points so is classed as an Advanced horse too – so exciting!  None of it could be done without all the support from both of my parents, who are just as excited and also thanks to Nick Gauntlett for all his training and advice.

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