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.
WOW well what a weekend...! I absolutely love team events, everybody supporting each other, cheering, giving advice, and this weekend was by far one of the most memorable!
Candy & I were off this time to Stafford Unaffiliated ODE held over the BE course. They had Pony Club sections as well as the option to enter a team. Our team just managed to get a last minute entry and I'm so glad we did! We only had 3 members but I was quietly confident! The team consisted of myself, Learna Frost & Ellie Friend. Learna competes at BE100 level and is about to move up to Novice level where her ambition is to enter our local event Chatsworth next year! After her performance she is well on track! Ellie Friend is new to eventing and I'm sure after this weekend she has caught the eventing bug! For her first ODE she was extremely brave going in at BE100 level but I knew Onkey (Jack the Lad) would be amazing and he certainly was!
We all headed over to the dressage warm up and before we knew it Ellie was called in! She was showing a few nerves before going in as it was both their first time at dressage! We all encouraged her and she came out with a well earned 33! Learna was next and she too came out with a solid 33. I was last to go and even though Candy showed her age in a few places she came out with her best score to date of 27.5, I was over the moon!
Over to show jumping we all headed! The course was built up well and had lots to look at as well as a few tight turns and dog legs. Again Ellie was a first up. She jumped well just knocking one fence as they decided to take a long stride to the spread which was set on a long 5 strides or short 6! Learna next to go and again came out with only 4 faults, just getting caught out by fence 8 the dog leg. Candy was last again to go and really made me smile as she tried so hard and came out with a super clear!
We all were buzzing as we knew all we had to do now was go clear cross country and we would be in with a good chance! Learna was up first this time and tried her hardest to go slower as Max tends to eat up the cross country so fast that she has had time penalties for going too fast! The first clear was in but she had gone a little the other way this time picking up 12 time faults! Ellie was next, she knew as soon as she was over the roll top to angled corner she would be away, and she definitely was! Jumping another fab clear round and spot on the time. Candy was next and just needed to get round clear. This time she really knew what was coming as it was the first time she has ever got excited in the start box! She set of quicker than usual and did not hesitate at anything! we had all gone clear and was just awaiting my all important optimum time, Candy had done it, she was clear inside the time and not only had our team won, Candy had won the section finishing on her 27.5 dressage. We were all ecstatic, jumping up and down when the results were confirmed over the tannoy!
Well done to all the Barlow members who were also competing in each level, some great placings!
Firstly big thanks to the Barlow Pony Club who put Candy & I forward for the level 4 team. Even though we didn't manage to qualify we all had an amazing day!
First up in our team was Hannah Goodman who was very pleased with how calm Kiwi was in the dressage scoring 45. Then I was next, Candy was a bit wobbly and dropped off my leg as soon as we went down the center line (thanks candy!) I was still pleased with her 34 score. Next was Tinky Morris, it was her first ODE and first ever dressage test on her new pony Leo, scoring 46. Last to go in our team was Amy Biggin who did an amazing dressage test of 29, just what our team needed!
Onto the showjumping phase, which was up to height, rammed with fillers and lots of lovely plastic poles everywhere! We were all excited but slightly nervous, Hannah was up first again who jumped a super round just picking up 4 faults. Candy was next, totally missing the stride I was on for the first fence but still managed to jump it clear! She then went disunited and on the wrong leg into number 4 and was too late to change taking off earlier and catching the pole. She jumped the rest of the course spot on so just picked up the 4 faults. Tinky was next and showed us all how to do it jumping a fantastic clear! Amy was last to go and picked up an unlucky 8 faults.
As we headed to the cross country warm up, I felt I couldn't relax like I normally do on Puzzle knowing there were still challenges to come from the xc course! It was a tough course with very uneven ground (imagine how the sea bed looks like under the water then imagine it as grass!) It would be Candy's first jump into water, first jump in the water, first 2 skinnies on angles and lots of going into the darkness (woods!) Hannah flew round but Kiwi was slightly enjoying herself a bit too much and Hannah had to do a few circles but only picked up a few times faults. Next was Candy who started a bit sticky but after fence 3 she was on a roll, she did the skinnies well, although trotted into the second part as she just lost her balance on the turn, she jumped the ditches and coped well with going into the dark woods. Then came the fence two strides from the drop into water she back off slightly having a nosey but with some encouragement popped over it and jumping into the water no problems. She even popped over the jump in the water from trot! She started to tire but we only had 3 fences left so I kicked on and she finished well! I was so pleased! We picked up 6 time faults but id rather her take it all in then scare her half to death! Next was Tinky, who came back with the biggest smile of us all! Completing her first ODE. Last to go was Amy, no problems for Dilana at all, just picking up around 13 time faults.
A really good day for us all, well done team Barlow and to all the other people who represented our branch. Charlotte Heath Smith qualified on Trinny in the Level 5 so we will all be rooting for her at the championships held at Draycott House.
Course pictures below, as well as Show jumping and cross country footage of all our team!
Took Candy to Somerford Park Pony Club ODE to have a go at the Level 4 which I new would be the hardest most challenging course she has done. I was right! Everything was up to height and the cross country had lots for her to look at.
I warmed up for 5 minutes to try a different tactic and being as it was 24 degrees figured she would have less energy than usual! Again I was right!! She did a nice test the trot work good and she really improved with her trot to walk transitions for 3-5 steps. The canter really needs the most work as she is losing her balance easily through the corners and going disunited a little too often! I haven't seen the sheet yet as we had to leave early but awaiting it's arrival any time now!
As we warmed up for Show Jumping in the amazing new huge arena she was behind my leg and I really had to get after her especially with the course being built up with jazzy fillers too! We had a few sticky moments but after I gave her a tap around fence 5 she woke up and jumped much better leaving all the poles in their place! Yey clever Candy!!
It was getting hotter and hotter and trying to find a bit of shade was very difficult waiting for cross country! I was determined to have a good start to fence one so was on her case from the word go! She felt amazing and was taking me into every fence! She flew up the 2 steps to the skinny with no hesitation. She just decided to have a look at the trekaner but apart from that she was amazing and I was ecstatic she completed.
Video below and take a look at the fences she jumped! Very proud of her! Hopefully if the ground softens up she will be going to her 5yo Buckminster BE.
At the weekend we went all the way down to junction 21 for the Warwickshire PC ODE which was incorporating the Musto Open Eventing League. After a long 2 and 1/2 hour drive we finally arrived, the weather was scorching at 28 degrees. I decided not to put studs in for a change as the ground was very dry, Puzzle warmed up for dressage OK although she was slightly behind my leg (probably because it was so hot!) soon after we went in to do our test. It was definitely hard work and I couldn't breathe in my jacket, it could of been more accurate and more forward but on the whole I was pleased. She got a 34.4 and was 7th after dressage. The showjump course was really interesting and up to height, it was one of the most jazzy courses I have jumped in ages with a wall, gate, water tray, arrowhead and bright fillers under every fence! I could feel her backing off a few so had to use my whip a couple of times to encourage her (not like Puzzle at all.. is this the start of what is to come?). Puzzle jumped a great round giving the fences some real height (for a change.. properly because she was looking at the fillers haha!) Then we came to the last fence 10 a triple. She came round the corner and started backing off 5 strides away, I was thinking don't you dare do what you did at Catton park (pick up a disobedience!) So I growled at her at I have no idea how she managed to clear the 3 fences, but by putting 2 strides in between them she managed it (they were set at one stride!) So we came out with a very lucky clear which boosted us up to 4th place.
I didn't do much warm up for XC because it was so hot and dry. Mum walked her into the start box this time to avoid any cheeky behaviour! We set off a bit sticky over the first few, the course was quite testing, nearly every fence was a combination and on an angle. There were 2 water complexes both with big drops one was really early on around fence 5 the other right at the end. The most unusual fence which I wasn't looking forward to was around fence 7, it was a wide house set on one stride right hand turn exactly from the path so as you can imagine it was very tight and you had to ride for that one stride or you would be in serious trouble and extremely close to fence, it also followed 3 strides to a single skinny house. Puzzle never seemed to really get going she was lacking her usual drive, as we got to fence 5 the drop into water, last minute she decided not to jump off and I flew out the side door! Luckily it wasn't a bad fall I managed to land on my feet although my air jacket still went off! At least I know it works!! After the doctor had insisted checking me out I was aloud to carry on. I thought I could try her again at the next water fence later on in the course. The fences in between she still didn't quite feel herself and by the time I got to the next water drop I new she didn't want to do it. I walked her through the water so that wasn't the issue once we finished I jumped off to check her out. Everything seemed fine she wasn't obviously lame, when I took her boots off I noticed some gravel stones dropped out from her boots, some were even still stuck into her leg, they must of been from where they gravelled in front of the fences. Was this the reason?? Was they causing her pain? Was it just the hard ground and the fact that she new dropping off the step would cause a harsh impact on her legs? Who knows for sure. If she had done her usual clear round XC she would of finished 2nd. But like they say you have good days and you have bad days! All I know is that she definitely wasn't herself!
I was still wondering if there was something wrong with her, had she pulled something SJ? I rode her out the next day and when we set off she felt a bit short in front, I booked in with the physio after my friend Anna said maybe she was just a bit tight. The next day she confirmed that she was slightly stiff in the front right shoulder and felt a bit of swelling in the same leg, maybe that it was caused from all the hard ground we have had. So now I have cancelled all her events for the next month hoping after a few weeks off she will come sound and the ground will be better for her. Even though Puzzle can't talk she was definitely telling me something that day and I am glad I listened to her and didn't get mad thinking she was just being naughty!
Candy had a great lesson with Sarah in the week.. write up to follow, and is ready for her run at Somerford Park Level 4 (BE100) and then Buckminster 5yo BE.
Well what a horrible day... it never stopped raining! I took Puzzle to Catton Park ODE to do the level 5 which was a Musto qualifier. For those of you who arn't aware of the Musto League it is only for those who compete at Open level 5 and if you are placed 1st-6th in any of the Musto Qualifiers around the country you pick up points which then goes onto a leader board for your chance to win great prizes. If you are lucky enough to be in the top 10 you win:
1st place: One day's training with a Musto Ambassador / 4* Event Rider and a full equestrian outfit from Musto.
2nd place: Training bursary to the value of £200.
3rd place: Training bursary to the value of £150.
4th place: Training bursary to the value of £100.
5th place: Training bursary to the value of £50.
6th place: Training bursary to the value of £50.
7th place: Training bursary to the value of £50.
8th place: Training bursary to the value of £50.
9th place: Training bursary to the value of £50.
10th place: Training bursary to the value of £50.
So glad I packed a long water proof coat as I definitely needed it! Puzzle warmed up really well for dressage and even with a few silly little mistakes in the test she still managed to score 31.2 which I was over the moon with and was around 6th after dressage. I had a quite a fair bit of time in between Dr & SJ so off I went to walk the XC course. It was a lovely course up to height and I could tell it would be testing especially with the ground being so wet and the terrain was extremely up and down!! Their were lots of combinations and a difficult A,B,C in the water. A hanging log jump into water then a sharp right hand turn in the water to a decent skinny arrowhead brush fence. I watched a few have problems with the 3rd element but was hoping if I gave Puzzle the best line at the fence she would be honest enough to jump it.
I tacked up for SJ and headed over. The course was again up to height even with the slippery ground, Puzzle was being very cheeky in the warm up and I new she was on form. She jumped an amazing round clearing the fences much better than usual, however as I turned to the 2nd to last fence she decided to do a dance on the spot and put in a little rear! I sat calm and then kicked her on one stride out of the fence which she just popped. I was so pleased she jumped clear but was guttered to here they had given me 4 penalties for a disobedience! Now for XC! She flew out of the start box and jumped the first half of the course brilliantly, as I was now heading back down the hill I decided to take my time as I would of hated to have slipped she jumped the water complex perfect and finished clear. I knew we would have picked up some time faults but how many was the question! As I looked at the results we had still managed to pick up 6th place even with 5.6 time pen! I didn't manage to get any video footage with the weather being so bad but I bought a lovely picture which when I get through the post I will upload!
Puzzle has had a few more lessons with Sarah Healy working on the jumping and dressage. After warming up Sarah had me on a 10m circle around a fence to then come across the angle to a upright which every time I came to it she then put up and up finishing at 1.25m! I couldn't believe how big she could jump from such a tight circle but it got her on the hocks enabling her to jump much bigger. When we lowered them to 1.15m she flew round so confidently not touching a thing! I learnt that day speed is not the way to get over a big fence! All you need is a collected medium canter and you can jump anything! Maybe that's where I was going wrong in the past??!
We took Candy to the Belvoir ODE held at Oasby, it was such a lovely day at 20 degrees! The ground was really baked which was the down side and didn't suit Candy great so we decided to take her studs out, this did help but we had already done the dressage! It wasn't one of her best tests, but in places it was nice and she managed to pull a 31.1. I was in two minds whether to run her the other phases but mother convinced me! She did a nice clear show jump round just got close to a few but I think that was due to the ground. We then went on to the cross country which suited Candy well as it was fairly flat. There was a few questions, fence 3 was a big step down and one stride to another big step up which was apparently in the Novice BE track. The water fence had a fairly big drop into it followed by a jump out, which BE90 tracks never have in you only ever have to trot in and jump out. Candy was a bit hesitant at it as you can see in the video but with a bit of encouragement from me she just dropped off it really nicely. She did a really nice round again just getting close to a few and it was nice not to have a optimum time with the ground being so hard I just cantered her round with no pressure. Candy finished on her score of 31.1 and came 2nd! Nice one Candy!
Well we really didn't think we make it to Epworth Equestrian
after the snow! I managed to convince mum there was no snow once you got out of Sheffield! The ground was fantastic, we got there a bit late so I only had 10 minutes to warm up. I was really pleased with his test, he loves dressage it is definitely his strong point! He managed to get a 36 with 7's for all his trot and walk work. The canter was a bit fresh and not as relaxed as I would of liked but he still got 6's! He was 3rd after dressage and had lovely comments on his test sheet, which I was really chuffed with.
We rushed onto the SJ, quickly warming up and learning the 10 fences! He knocked a few which was a bit disappointing, but as this is the phase he needs work on I wasn't too mad! Think I will experiment with a change of bit.. maybe a Nuschule to encourage him to lower his head coming into the fences.
Onwards to the cross country! After popping the warm up fence a few times we set off on our round not really knowing what to expect. After the first 3 fences I thought to myself wow this feels nice! He flew round the rest of the course, just having a noisy at the water for a few moments until he decided to get his feet wet! I walked him round in it a few times just for more training and to get him used to it. He really suprised me round the XC keeping a fantastic rhythm and meeting all the fences perfectly, a great event for him to practice for hopefully the run up to Stafford BE.
I took pictures of the XC courses for you to look at. You might fancy competing their in the future and gives you an idea of what to expect. (see below)
Epworth Equestrian XC Courses 2011