Well Puzzle's 2nd year around the amazing Chatsworth Estate, can't believe it has been and gone so fast already!! We were in the novice section D and got to do our dressage on the Friday evening. I had plenty of time so hopped onto her earlier to get all the tension out and hopefully get a better test in the long run. So after 20 mins of a relaxing warm up we took her back to the box to chill for a bit while I was getting ready. I got back on her with 20mins to warm back up again and she felt lovely. She was much more relaxed and into the bridle. My instructor Sarah Healy came just in time 10 minutes before our test, to just tweak a few things which really helped and I can't thank her enough. I felt relaxed, Puzzle felt relaxed as we trotted down the centre line. She did really nice trot work which is the bit she is normally tense and was spot on with the movements scoring mainly 7's. As we went onto the canter work I felt her come up a little and wasn't as forward into the bridle as normal. So my test was reversed I did better in the trot and slightly worse in the canter but still managing to pick up 6/7's finishing on a 35.5 which put us around 12th after the dressage phase which was an amazing achievement for Puzzle & I as we rarely seem to be in the top quarter after this phase. After dressage I walked the course with Sarah, it had changed slightly from last year missing out some fences which had moved over into the new 1*. I have taken pictures of the course which will be below.
Saturday came around even quicker and I was walking around the SJ course thinking this can't be the course it was all on the right rein and didn't flow what so ever! Somebody decided to check to see if it was the right course which she was told yes it was. As I got into the warm up my friend told me that it was the wrong course and somebody had highjacked it the previous evening changing a few of the numbers round!! Glad I new this before I went in! So the SJ course was actually really nice! As we were warming up there were so many horses in the collecting ring and it felt manic. Puzzle hates horses cantering past her really close so I felt her become really tense and she wasn't going forward. I tried to jump the practice fence so many times however it was so busy, people putting the fence up, people putting the fence down before I could even get a look in! I cantered on such a small circle which felt like 50 times trying to get near to the fence. I felt really sorry for Puzzle who at this point wouldn't even go near the SJ fence. Then I heard my name called and it was our time to jump. I tried to calm Puzzle down but it didn't work she was really uptight. Our SJ round I felt was really hit and miss none of the fences came to us well we were either too close or too far, she wasn't strong at all but was so coiled up I had nothing to push forward. Puzzle knocked 2 fences which considering the horrendous warm up and the amount of poles that were flying in other people's rounds I wasn't mad at all she had really tried for me and I was pleased.
We had such a long wait till the cross country nearly 5 hours!! Due to the 1* having to do their cross country round first. I had time to look around the shops and have a look at how the score board was shaping up! We was in around 20th at this point with all to play for in the cross country and this phase in our favour. I got Puzzle off the trailer before my time to stretch her as waiting that long anybody would be stiff! She did a nice warm up and was jumping well (due to there be not many horses in the collecting ring!!) They shouted us across and then Puzzle decided to do a little dance before getting in the start box (pure excitement!) 3..2..1 and we were off she flew out of the start box and ate the first few fences up. The ground was starting to get cut up and I had to slow for the corners, trying to make up time in between. We had such a great round nothing seemed to cause a problem or slow her up she was on top form flying round, we pushed on for the finish hoping to be inside the time. When we checked the results she had done it in 5.16 so 7 seconds to spare! More and more results were coming in and people had picked up a fair few time faults moving us higher and higher up the board. We were placed 12th overall which I was chuffed with shame we couldn't beat our 9th place last year but we were extremely glad of the improved dressage. Hopefully next year Puzzle & I will brave the 1* and Candy may be ready to move into the novice.
Thank you to all my supporters family & friends who came to cheer us on and the amazing good luck messages, the fantastic sponsors for this event Super X Country & William Eyre & Sons, Rich Neale for our super pictures for each phase and especially my mum Marie who was there for me every step of the way.
Here you can read Becci's Eventing Diary