So last weekend I had entered J into the BE100 at Auchinleck, since we ran at Hopetoun in the Novice I have decided that we are both not quite ready for that level so it will be BE100’s for the rest of the year. My times for Auchinleck were pretty late on so didn’t even leave home until 10am! It was practically a lie-in to not get up before 8am – although a bit weird!
Arrived with plenty of time and the sun shining – thankfully it wasn’t
too hot inside the lorry and J was very settled with his water and hay
as we went off to walk the xc. The course was lovely – having only been
to Auchinleck once before a long time ago I couldn’t really remember
what it was like but none of the fences looked to be asking too many
questions and I was hopeful that we would have a nice pop round.
Arrived back with chief course walker (the lovely Labrador) and John who has twisted his ankle
while walking the course and left them to start getting ready. Left
putting my jacket on until the last minute as it was becoming a scorcher
of a day by this point. Slowly started to melt as I was walking over
to the dressage and got on with warming up. J was warming up even
better after a few pointers from my instructor LL who was judging the
other section of riders and headed over to start my test.
Then a funny thing happened…..
We normally start to get tense on the trot around the arena, but after
my chat with LL it has become clear that its not the horse, more the
rider who gets tense and after the small pep talk, I spent the time
focusing on releasing the tension and J went beautifully. Carried on
this plan for the duration of the test and J seemed to be well behaved,
cantering when we were supposed to. The trot, walk, trot transition
first time was a bit iffy as we broke after two strides and I wasn’t
sure if I should do it again or carry on so muffed it a bit. Anyway we
have been working on his canter, doing transitions, moving on and back
and counter canter (as it really makes him sit) and I think it has
started to pay off as his canter was light and on his hocks. He was a
bit worried about the give and retake which I don’t really practice at
home but still managed it, and even his walk wasn’t so bad.
Came out of the ring feeling that it was a nice test, but as we normally get 38, I was hopeful of a 35 maybe a 33.
Headed over to the SJ, to find no-one in the warm up, popped over a
couple then went to find out the course. J was jumping nicely and after
our rubbish round at Hopetoun (he had a very unusual stop then two down
in the Novice) I was aiming to get round with no more than one down.
Which is what we achieved! We still had the customary one fence down
but it was a bit of both our errors, I tried in a rubbish way to get him
back for the down hill fence 6, but he was fighting me and when I saw a
stride I just took it rather than really getting him back so we booted
it out. He was a better round than at Hopetoun but I think I was riding
him a bit too strongly as he looked a bit worried over a couple of
fences – still he left them up! Something to work on getting him to
relax again anyway.
Came back to the lorry to find a text to say we were in the lead on a Dr score of 24.5
24.5!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I did have a bit of an astonished
and disbelieving look about me for a while before it sunk in that even
after SJ we were still in the lead
Then I blew it!
Headed over for the xc, determined to go clear. J has never had a fault
in any xc run up to Novice – his record was only tarnished this year
with the 3 novice runs I did and two of those were numpty jockey errors.
However he was backing off a lot of the Novice so I have decided to
keep him at the 100 for confidence. I wasn’t really expecting it to be a
problem, and set off out of the start box thankful of the wind
whistling past to keep us cool! Jumped the first few fences and he flew
them, backed off a couple later on but still jumped them when asked,
saw some long strides and he took them easily and headed off down to
fence 11. This was a hanging long going into the trees, I knew the
light to dark thing might be a problem so sat down and rode him over him
which he backed off but still jumped when asked. Once landed I turned
and went through the trees to the coffin – roll top, one stride to
ditch, then one stride to log. Popped the first part then to my horror
he spooked at the ditch and ran sideways
the ditch was very long so we hadn’t actually turn away or stepped back
but the hesitation was there and even though we then jumped it, I had
already heard the jump judge shout the ‘first refusal’ so carried on and
finished well but gutted that we had done so badly on the xc!
We also picked up 6 time faults which is 15 seconds over the time. I
reckon about 5 seconds was for the ditch so we would still have
collected time faults although we would have been placed as the time was
I’m annoyed with myself for assuming he would have popped the ditch,
he’s never been a ditchy horse but looking at the photos John took, there
was a very bright sunny spot coming out of the trees right over the
ditch so maybe that was it? We jumped the next ditch on the way home
fine so I’m hoping that will still have given him some confidence for
his next run at Hendersyde.
It’s the first time I have ever found myself being so close to doing
really well at an event! I’m now on a mission to make it happen more
often (the dressage, not the abysmal xc!!)