What a day at Bishop Burton. It started at 4am, which even Candy thought was wayyyy to early and looked at us as if we were mad! We were second to go in the dressage, I stuck to my warm up routine designed by new dressage trainer Claire which worked a treat. It kept us both calm and focused. As we headed up the center line I felt like I really was riding the best horse in the world (something I try and think every time but never seems to work!) but this time was different she was so rideable and tuned into me everything came easy and not rushed. Had the arena grown?! No I was just looking around it for once!
I came out smiling (which was shock to the system) and actually enjoyed the whole experience. When I found out I had scored a 32.5 I was thrilled to say the least and not only did that put us high on the leaderboard, it was also our best mark at novice level to date.
Onto show jumping which really did look like a snakes and ladders board. Very twisty and turns after what felt like each fence! You can imagine the problems it caused and it took me some serious riding. Not sure if the sun was chilling candy out a bit too much but I came out like I had jumped the course myself. She was very hard work which was strange after the great SJ rounds I have had recently. Luckily the poles stayed in tact and we came out with a clear round.
Cross country I felt was tough and very quick for the time they had allowed. 5 minutes and 2 seconds which only 3 people managed to achieve. The first half of the course was twisty and challenging, fence 9 was a very skinny upright corner of a tight turn which to my delight she jumped beautifully. Fence 8 was a long up hill drag to a step one stride to a skinny triple bush. We hit the step great but it was as if the brush fence had taken her by surprise and she didnt even attempt to jump it which was odd. I circled and ask her the same question again. She popped it perfectly so I did wonder if she just lost concentration. The rest of the course had big drops with further fences on angles and a testing woodland a, b and c combination going into the dark. She jumped the rest of the course lovely and I couldn't really grumble.
I picked up 14 time penalities which was actually one of the quicker times around the course. Even with the time pens the worst I could of been placed was 9th and the best 2nd ... (Dont do it to yourself, why do I bother looking!) Lots of positives but a gutting 20 pens to add. We will keep plugging away and hopefully get the better dressage with a double clear on the same day. Onwards and upwards as they say!
It wasn't long before that time of year again, Chatsworth Horse Trials. With it being cancelled last year I was doubly looking forward to it!
Candy's first year competing here, my third. I walked the course the night before and I must of rode the course over and over in my sleep at least fifty times! I woke up Friday morning nice and early in preparation for doing my dressage test. I don't usually do them the day before, but with it being so local (20 mins) its daft not to. We bathed and plaited Candy that morning in the horrible drizzly rain and Candy was not happy to say the least, probably not one of my brightest ideas when I am about to ask her to do her best dressage test of her life for me!
Well I was right, she was a little grumpy and didn't get the score I had hoped for, we were both a little tense (candy more so from the cold shower haha!) but we came out with a reasonable 37.5 which left us in 22nd position after dressage.
Everyone knows its never a dressage competition at Chatsworth so with everything to play for on Saturday I was determined to try and stay on that score. The SJ was causing the usual problems and only 10 clear rounds were achieved that day in my section, luckily for me its one of Candy's favourite phases and she didn't disappoint with a fabulous clear round. I came out feeling a little wobbly and sick.. then I remembered I forgot to breathe!
A few hours later it was time for cross country. I knew I would have to ride strong for the first half of the course with it being fairly technical and the fences positioned in testing places. What felt like 2 minutes was actually 5 mins and I was 6 seconds over the optimum time but came back with a strong clear round that I was buzzing about!!
Despite meeting a duck in the water and going that fast I can't recall the whole round it felt fantastic and Candy really showed her boldness and her love of cross country.
We finished on 39.9 to move all the way up to 9th place, when I went to receive my ribbon at prize giving they also said I had won the best local prize, which has always been an ambition of mine and I had to retain my excitement as I went to shake the title sponsors hand!
Huge thanks to everyone who came to support Candy & I, that is what really makes the event and it was so nice to have someone cheering us on at every fence! Bring on next year!
So I headed all the way to Moreton Morrell to do the Novice with Candy. It would be our last run before Chatsworth so I was hoping for a confident one! It was such a glorious day, I really couldn't of picked a better day off work to go Eventing. Walking the course in a t-shirt is what its all about!!
The dressage warm up was nice and relaxing for a change, and we went in to do our test with that same feeling for once! I was extremely happy with the test, she managed to keep cantering without showing the judge any of her flying changes! The mediums are coming along nicely and all in all it was a very accurate consistent test. We came out with 33.5 and for the first time we were in the top 10 after dressage.... wooooohooooo!! (Personal Achievement!) The judge commented on my confident well ridden test (can't say I've ever seen the word confident on my test before!) So with a smiley face I was off to show jump...
The show jumping was on a beautiful surface and huge arena. It was however built much more like a BSJA course and was causing lots of problems. Candy went in and did her thing and I was buzzing off such a lovely clear round which was only 1 of 6 in our section! Onwards to cross country which was a fair test but was presented lovely and I couldn't wait to get round. It asked a few questions which I rode hard but Candy responded well and tackled everything with confidence.
I am really pleased to tell you all (really really really pleased!) that it wasn't a fluke we managed to make the time AGAIN! If that wasn't enough reason to party, I couldn't believe it when I saw the score board and we had come 3rd!!! Candy's best placing by far at this level and my best placing ever at Novice Level. Love the pictures taken by 1stclassimages.
Here you can read Becci's Eventing Diary