What started out a great weekend at Lincoln showground, representing Barlow in Area dressage and showjumping ended on a very upsetting note. We travelled to Lincoln on the Saturday for the dressage. It was a test I have never done before, and the most complex Candy has ever done with lots of tight 10m circles, simple changes through walk to canter and canter to walk, canter loops away from the track and again medium trots which aren't quite established at the moment! We gave it our best shot and I came out feeling extremely happy with the test we had just performed. Turns out we scored 64.52% which put us in 8th place. The 3 higher placed competitors were joint 5th on 65% so you can see how close it was. Team Barlow came 8th with other scores from Louise 54.84%, Charlotte 57.1% and Katie 61.29%. First place scored 70.65% so Candy wasn't too far away, the comments from the judge said "higher marks to come when she develops more confidence" which should happen the more she matures.
Overnight stay in the lorry for another early start on Sunday. The show jumping course was set at 1m05 for the first round. There were about 10 teams, 40 competitors. Luck wasn't on the Barlow's side unfortunately with a few poles costing us the qualification we needed. Candy did a lovely first round, she felt so much more confident in herself and was pulling me into the fences which was a nice change! The second round was set at 1m15 and Candy did another spot on clear round. Out of the 40 competitors there were only 9 double clears, so we had to jump off for the individual qualifications. We ran back to the stable to get her ready, I knew 5 minutes before that the running order was going to stay the same which meant I was 3rd to go. Normally with Pony Club you are waiting about for ages, today was not a normal day! They quickly started so I cantered the whole way down to the warm up arena. I just about had enough time to learn my course so started to warm up over the practise fences. Candy had fallen to asleep, she was lacking drive and felt very tried. The jumps had gone up again to 1m20 so I popped a few bigger fences, we met a fence really bad and Candy had to try her hardest to get over it, but ended up taking out the whole fence! I thought, well at least that might have woken her up and she usually jumps even better if she touches a pole. I think because I was rushing so much, nerves were starting to get to me and I panicked. I went over to the steward and said my number, I couldn't believe what I was hearing and started to feel physically sick. "You have missed your slot, the judge won't let you jump now" I replied "excuse me?" The steward quickly said that I would have to speak to the judge but I wasn't aloud to jump competitively, they would only allow me to jump HC. I wasn't going to go in for the fun of it and jump round when she was tired and had jumped so beautifully in the 2 previous rounds. My heart completely sank, all the years I have been competing at Area competitions and not once have I ever got this far.
The outcome would have been different at any BE event where organisers go out of their way to ensure you have an enjoyable day out. We had invested in a full weekend with all the associated travel costs etc only to leave with a feeling of big disappointment.
Video footage to follow shortly
Well I am writing this a few days after the event, and after some time to reflect I can confirm I am still very much in love with my horse, despite the disappointing feeling of not qualifying as an individual nor as team Barlow.
It was one of those days, was it on, was it off, I think everyone was hoping the event would be cancelled after the shocking rain we had the few days running up to it. The Burghley did their utmost to make the conditions near on perfect. They had stoned all the muddy bits and with show jumping on their fabulous surface there was little else to worry about!
It was an extremely early start for my team, luckily I had been staying with Holly in Leicestershire so was only 1 hour away, unlike everyone else who had to get up at about 4.30am!! We were all packed and ready to leave for 7am. I had walked the course the day before, with only one fence which was fence 5 worrying me slightly! 3 years ago when I did the same course with Puzzle I broke my finger over the same fence! We hit it very wrong, but Puzzle was determined not to have 20 penalties so scrambled over the upside down bath tub from a stand still, I was thrown forward and punched into her neck, which after a hospital visit turned out I had a boxers fracture! I did finish the course though clear, I really couldn't let Puzzle down after she went and took matters into her own hands!! Well enough about fence 5, can you see me getting worried just thinking about it again haha!
I was last to go dressage, Candy warmed up well. I timed the warm up strictly to see if less was more when it comes to her. Turns out I was right! The less she does the better she is, or at least the more energy she has- lazy girl! Candy came out with 34.4 dressage which put her in the top 10 and it was the best score for the Barlow too. Katie scored 39, Learna 36 and Charlotte 38. As we all headed down to show jumping I think a few were worried because of the plastic poles. Well lets just say it wasn't Barlow's day... and the rest of the team accumulated 44 faults between them. It was Candy's turn, I decided to take the same approach when warming up. I jumped each practise fence once then went straight in, it worked! Candy did a lovely clear round which stood us in good stead for cross country - no pressure! I knew there was no chance of our team qualifying now so it was down to myself to get me the qualification.
Candy switched off warming up for cross country, I'm not sure if going straight to XC after SJ suited her. There was no rest and we were straight off out the starting box in no time at all. I knew in my head, I needed to push on more along the straight bits, as I wasn't risking her slipping over around the corners. Looking back I think I lost around 12 seconds in the wood section. I hit fence 5 like it was deja vu, completely wrong. I couldn't tell you if I was too close or too far away, it all seemed a blur. Candy really showed what she was made of and quickly took over sorting herself out and managed to get over it without even touching it! PHEWW! She finished really strong, but still lacking some oomph at the last few fences. We looked at the leader board to find I was in 2nd place but I had no idea if I had any time penalties at that stage. An hour and a half wait saw 4.8 time penalties being added to my score, I was devastated! I dropped back 10 places with the leader board being so tight, narrowly missing out on the qualification I so desperately wanted. The rest of the team boosted their spirits with Learna and Katie jumping round clear. Charlotte had to take an alternative, after a run out at the unusual shaped skinny double. We are in the same team for Area Show jumping, fingers crossed we can all hold it together and bring back some good results for the Barlow.
The question is will I try again to qualify next year? It could be Lady's turn to shine and bring home the bacon! Who knows, but huge thanks to the Barlow PC for this opportunity and putting me forward.
Well after ANOTHER event cancelled because of the rubbish British weather, I just could not let the girls down again so booked them in for Arena Eventing at Vale View Equestrian. I figured surely it can't be rained off when it has a roof over the arena?!! Thankfully it stayed dry most of the day, I took Lady for the Novice 85cm and Intermediate 1m classes. Looking back I really should of got up extra early to do the 75cm class and give her the best chance.
She jumped her little socks off, all the tough skinnies and tight lines did not phase her she was brilliant. Lady jumped up and down steps, into and out of water, skinny brushes, arrowheads, planks, corners and fences on angles I was so pleased with how bold and direct she was to say she hadn't seen or ever practised anything like it! I must admit though the 1m class (same class Candy did!) was way to much for her at this stage but she gave it her best shot to complete but we just took our time and lets face it she doesn't really stand much of a chance against Candy and the rest of the eventers that were out that day including Lauren Shannon and Ros Canter!
Candy really was a total super star winning the biggest class of the day, the Intermediate with near on 50 competitors. She jumped a very quick double clear in a time of 109, no one could catch her and it didn't even feel fast (candy fast-come on!! That would be a fine thing!) She certainly covers ground that's all I can say! 2nd place was on 112 seconds!
I had entered Candy into the Open 1.10m class which was causing so much trouble, that much in fact no one jumped it double clear! Candy had a pole in the first round but still flew round in 111 seconds to come 4th. We were so excited to hear that we had qualified for the final in August for both classes!!
If I get chance I will take Lady back to give her a real shot in the 75cm and 85cm! Next stop Area Eventing this weekend, and I am pleased to tell you Candy made it into the first team so fingers crossed the weather dries up!!