Once again we've been keeping really busy between competing, training and just having some fun!
Our last out was to a local equestrian centre who were hosting an eventers challenge. This consists of 9 show jumps and then straight out onto the XC course for another 10 fences. I'd entered the 85cm class as Buddy is so blase around 80cm now and we've been schooling over 1m at home so he's more than capable. Plus I was debating entering a BE90 before the end of the season so thought it could be good practise.
We had relatively late times as we were running in the second last class so a nice leisurely morning getting ready and no plaiting as it was jumping! I arrived with plenty of time to walk the course so watched a few show jump in the smaller class before heading out to XC. The SJ was well built and up to height with some spooky fillers but nothing that concerned me, although there were faults and falls all over the place. I started walking the XC and I was pretty shocked. As it turned out the 85 and 90 course were exactly the same so it was up to height the whole way round. It would definitely give us the test we needed!!
It was soon time to warm up and so we wandered over. There were 6 or 7 people crammed into a 40x20 and it was chaos. Buddy has got funny in the warm up after a few near misses out eventing. If someone canters towards us or next to us and we are next to the fence he panics. I get tense in the warm up too so that doesn't help but the crazy state of affairs was not making life any easier. There was one pair who had their trainer/mum there and they hogged the fences - with lots of shouting for good measure. She galloped into the oxer and the pony stopped so she hit the deck. This happened again and at that point I left the warm up and it was winding B up. I managed to get back in and pop a couple of fences but B was incredibly wound up by this point so it was a bit pointless.
We trotted into the first as our warm up hadn't been great (!) and then B was off like a rocket - I struggled to get him back for the turns but we made it round clear - just! Then out to the xc - we jumped out of the school like a rocket. I brought him back to trot for the first fence which was a simple collection of upright logs and then kicked him on to the second which was a huge table. It was in a dark and spooky part so back to trot three strides out and then kick (and shut eyes) and we flew. Sharp right turn to a log in a water trough (odd) and then five strides to the step complex. Buddy has only ever done one step down in a comp but this was two bounce steps up - one stride and then two steps own. I was a bit anxious about this when I walked it as I wasn't sure how B would react but he popped up and I just sat back, kept my leg on and he popped the two down. Next was a ditch with an alternative skinny brush. I had decided to take the option and he had a look but jumped no worries. Kicked on to the bank - up there, small step up and then down the other side and onto the final fence - a nice triple bar. As I crossed the finish line I suddenly realised that we'd gone clear! Wow. I think we both needed the extra difficulty - one for B to keep his mind engaged and for me to actually ride every stride! Results came out and we managed to nab second place and won some money. Very pleased!
The next day I decided to take B to a sponsored ride, it was supposed to be 10 miles but I'd heard it was only 7 so I decided it would be ok even after his hard work the day before. I almost regretted my decision halfway round the woods as it was incredibly stoney. I wouldn't have done anything but walk on it (but there were jumps as an option!) so it was taking a bit longer than I thought. We made it into some fields and managed to have a good canter and popped all the fences - he was a keen been which was lovely and he felt like he was locking on to his fences. I was worried that he would be a bit foot sore the next day as the terrain was a bit challenging but he came out without a care in the world so I guess I need to stop worrying about it!
I decided that I was going to end my season without entering another event and focus on training and getting ready for next season. B feels really good, we've got our dressage championship coming up and work is really busy at the moment and I don't want to do it unless I can focus completely on it, especially as it's a step up.
Plan for now is to continue with lessons, B is going to have a holiday and then we will have a quieter time up to Christmas and then kick start again in January with some JAS and jump training. Before I know it the season will be starting again :o)