So after the disaster that was last week I needed to get out XC schooling prior to our BE debut at BCA so I managed to squeeze a session in at Attington Stud with G yesterday. We worked on ditches and drops and making sure when I say go I mean it and that B knows I mean it. It was one of those sessions where everything clicked and I had a bit of a breakthrough in my riding. B is not overly brave but he does try and I've been unfair in the way I have been riding him and have no right to be disappointed in our performance unless I can categorically say I rode it and meant it! I chatted with G about my concerns and was told that it's time to just get over it and kick on... So kick on I did. It made a huge difference and although G did warn me it may go to pot at BCA and to expect a stop or two I came away feeling amazing and like I'd turned a huge corner in my riding.
It was another early start with an 8:30 dressage and time was not on my side today so I ended up running about 30 mins behind my 'worst case' schedule. This meant I arrived at 8:10 and after collecting my number and tacking up I had 5 mins to warm up - not quite enough time! So we pretty much went straight in and it was not my best test, my half circles were a bit crap and the canter a bit onward bound but I can't complain as we'd gone in cold and he needs at least 15-20 mins to get consistent. Back to the box and a little break before SJ.
I wandered over with 25 minutes to spare as had not walked the course so wanted to watch a few go. Pretty simple but up to height and a bit twisty although nothing to be concerned about. One of the worst things about eventing alone is that you have to jump whatever is in the warm up and so my choices were: tiny cross, 100 upright and up to height wide spread. I stuck with the cross for a couple on each rein but then he started get rather cocky so I aimed him at the upright - he bowled on and flew it but was still being a tad keen so came round to the spread to try and back him off. Nope. Hmm. I decided to call it a day and hope the fillers calmed him down a bit!!
He did go a bit backwards in the ring but I rode forward and assertively. It was not neat and we had 4 faults at the penultimate fence where he just went a bit flat but I was pleased he'd gone when I asked and thought it was a good test for xc. They read out my DR score at this point and it was a 42 so on to XC with 4 to add.
Quick change and off to the XC course. I'd walked it the night before and saw three potential issues.. First, the corner at 6 as I'd need to be straight to it (there was an alternative which I had as another option if the first few had not gone to plan), 9ab a half coffin (he would only see the ditch after take off)and 12ab pallisade, two strides to drop. However the course was lovely and would just need me to attack it and ride.
He was being a pickle in the warm up - really hooning at the warm up fence - so I just focused on getting him off my leg and only jumped a few times. Before I knew it we were in the start box and being counted down. We shot out of the start box, quick slap on the neck to get him to focus on the first and we pinged it. Second was a picnic bench which he ballooned a bit, 3rd was a house which he went to have a look at but a bit of vocal encouragement got us over. Fourth was a half rolltop which we got a bit close to, took 5th out of our stride and met it nicely. As we came to the corner I gave him a slap 4 strides out and he didn't hesitate so we were on to 7ab where we were a tad wonky into the b element but still clear. Hay rack at 8 had a bit of a drop on landing so felt like we were in the air for a bit but had a fab jump over it and we were on to first big question 9ab. I kept my leg on, he saw the ditch on take off of the first element and I felt him back off but growled and he took the biggest leap over it. Landed a bit messily so quick change of leg and we were onto 10 which was a skinny house. He was wonky coming in and I kicked the flag out but we were on a mission. Next was step up to rolltop which he pinged and then our last question, 12ab pallisade to drop, which he zoomed through and down without question. Fence 13 was up to height with max brush allowance (though doesn't look quite as impressive in the pics) and he flew over it and stormed to the water. Another rolltop, three strides to the water which we slid into (B prefers his water nice and clear and not muddy) so trotted through, over the penultimate fence and then cantered up the hill to the final fence which he flew out of his stride. We did it, clear at our first BE90!! It was not stylish at all but I can focus on that once B understands I mean it!!
|13 - B making the biggest fence look teeny|
I felt quite emotional as its been a bit of a rollercoaster week but it was worth it for the high I'm on. To get to an affiliated event has been my main aim since B came back and it's taken us a while but to go clear after all the issues we've had at our debut is just magical. This one is going into my memory hall of fame. There are some videos on our Facebook page that my friend took for us so head over there for those if you fancy seeing us in action!