We have had a fairly lucky early season compared to some, managing to get to and run at events with all this rain!! Unfortunately Sapey was unable to run this week though so Ali has completed Open Intermediate classes at Gatcombe and Weston Park and Merlin and Flicka in the BE100 at Goring Heath.
Ali managed to stay sensible for her dressage, which was the new Intermediate test for this season including shoulder in and half pass. She performed well despite the XC having just started behind with the commentary and whistles blowing! We just lost rhythm a few times where the ground was changeable but scored a very respectable 30.5 in a competitve section (our first time at Open Intermediate – meaning any horse could be in our section!) See a video of our test here.
Onto the show jumping and Ali was very keen!! She jumped really well despite being a bit of a handful, I managed to keep the energy under control except in the treble where she made up a bit too much ground to tip the last part for 4 faults. See a video of our round here.
The enthusiasm continued on to the cross country… and a little bit of a difficulty getting into the start box – thank you to one of the lovely starters for the lead! She felt brilliant having only been XC schooling once due to the weather and time, however just misread the corners at 7, glancing off the first one for an annoying 20 penalties in an otherwise lovely round. I built and practised the corners at home, which she still didn’t understand at first – odd for her as she is usually so brilliant at things like that! Good first run though and lucky to get it in before the rain the following day!
Merlin and Flicka had their first BE100 run at Goring Heath, which got gradually stickier with mud during the day but held up for them both to complete. Merlin performed a solid but slightly underpowered test for 30.3 and was very keen to get back to the lorry for the next bits!!
Flicka felt much stronger and more balanced than last year and despite a couple of minor wobbles was good to score 31.8
Merlin jumped a clear round show jumping although lost his improving technique somewhat in the sticky mud and we have been working on a more forward active canter without getting too long, which he will need when he steps up to Novice. See a video of his round here. Flicka felt fabulous and was really pinging even on the difficult ground but unfortunately we missed our stride at the double, which she did well to jump the second part of but then clipped the last behind too – a bit disappointing given how well she had jumped up until that point to come away with 8 faults. See her round here.
Onto XC and Merlin first – he started off a little sticky, just not quite jumping out of the forward stride I wanted but got better and better the further round we got and came home clear easily inside the time to finish on his dressage score for 4th place! See clips of his round here.
Flicka found it a bit tricky as the ground conditions had got really sticky by the time she went XC but just kept confident and jumping, every time we jumped a fence on better ground she flew! I was thrilled that she was also clear and made it inside the time. See clips of her round here.
We were unsure if Weston would continue to run all week due to all the rain but the organisers did a great job even moving the show jumping so we had fresh ground. Unfortunately to OIU21 was cancelled the day before but this meant we had a cross country course that had not been ridden on. The dressage arenas had just been moved across slightly though so we had to do movement like half pass through a strip of mud where the long side of the arena had been the day before – not ideal! Ali was good considering but looked like she was going on tip toes saying Yuck! She did well to score 33. They were working on the show jumping putting sand/gravel down in front of the fences – Ali jumped brilliantly and tried so hard. I was frustrated to have just the first down and looking back think my canter was slightly underpowered to it so she got stuck in the mud! Watch our round here.
We didn’t go XC until lunchtime so watched a couple before we went and the ground looking to be drying in the sun and wind. There were 3 water jumps in the first 9 fences so I wasn’t sure what she would think of that, especially jumping into a stream at fence 6!! (See course photos here) She started well but we had a hairy moment into the first water when she stood off rather a long way from the first part causing me to loose my knitting sitting back away from her!! She was fabulous though and popped in well and then was flying, no need to have worried at 6 into the stream! Feeling good I kicked on a bit more and answered all the questions easily coming home with just 4.8 time faults – the fastest round of the morning Intermediate sections. To top it off we finished 2nd in an Open Intermediate taking her to 78 BE points – wow! You can see a video of various competitors round the intermediate track here (by Harveywetdog) – we are the last horse on the video (just after minute 17) seen jumping the last 3 fences.
So a pretty successful start to the season overall, now it just needs to stop raining!!
Thank you to my sponsors Lintbells Equine providing Ali with Yumove Active Joint and Flicka with Yumega Skin and Coat. For more information on their products, visit their website!