Manic May for Alice
With the season now well and truly under way, we set off to Sheepgate on Monday 2nd May with Wiz (Wurlizer) and Del (Headmore Delegate) for our second Premier League show of the year. We were slightly worried that we may get stuck in traffic as it was a bank holiday Monday, but thankfully we arrived in good time. Once we arrived, however, it seemed as if we had ventured up to the Arctic as it was so much colder than at home! We settled the horses in to their stables and then settled ourselves down. I had a nasty shock when I cleaned my teeth before bed as my toothbrush had a really funny taste, but once I had soaked it for 24 hours it tasted fine!
We awoke on Tuesday morning to a blowing gale and still really cold temperatures (I think freezing is a bit of an exaggeration!) and got the boys ready for arena free time which we don’t normally get in this country. I think Sheepgate is the only venue that lets us work in the arena rather than just walk, which is a nice change and much fairer on the horses! Del was on first in the PSG and he warmed up well. I was pleased with the test, he felt much more confident than at Keysoe but I was disappointed with the score of 67.28% to finish 6th in a big class. He then did his first Inter I and I was very pleased with it. He coped with all of the tricky bits like the full canter pirouettes and 2 time changes, but there were a couple of annoying little mistakes that kept our score down at 66.75%, but we still finished 3rd which isn’t bad for his first Inter I!
It was then Wiz’s turn in the Grand Prix and I was aiming for 66% so I would be eligible to go internationally. He was very hot and buzzy in the warm up and a bit over the top; I think he was very excited to be out at a party! However, he settled quite well for the test, there was just a bit in the middle where we had three quite expensive mistakes, but nonetheless I was very pleased, it was much more confident than at Keysoe and the piaffe and passage had massively improved. We finished just 2nd with a score of 66.38%, so I got my 66%! It also completed Wiz’s Grand Prix qualification for the Nationals, which was my aim for this year, so I was over the moon with that! That evening we went out for dinner with a group, including Kevin Sparrow (the Horse & Hound photographer) and some top International riders, and had a fantastic time and a really good laugh. You could tell we were horsey however as after about 11 o’clock we started to flag, but it was well worth the trip out!
The following morning the wind had died down and the sun had come out, it was a much more pleasant day! Unfortunately, the rest of the day didn’t follow that trend! Wiz was on first in the Grand Prix again, I was hoping that he would be a bit more relaxed today and we wouldn’t get the silly mistakes, and he was more relaxed, but he was a bit too relaxed so decided he didn’t really want to do the second piaffe, so that was the end of my test! We then got Del out and he had a sore heel where it had been so dry and windy so we decided it would be better to withdraw him as we didn’t want to make it any worse. As a result, we packed the lorry away and left for home and, as we were driving along the A16, we noticed a VOSA vehicle waiting at a roundabout... and they pulled us over for a routine check. Typical!
Thankfully, everything was fine, we had both passports and they were more than impressed with our lorry, so it wasn’t all that bad in the end! We then had to stop for some fuel and lunch and Mum bought some Jaffa cakes, which are her favourite. However, when I gave her one she said that it tasted funny and, when I checked, they were out of date! Normally it wouldn’t bother us but after everything else that had happened it was very annoying! Once we had got home and had a drink and relaxed we found the funny side of it all! You could definitely call it a show of two halves!
The following week was also fairly busy. On Monday 9th we took Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) to Wellington for her first advanced medium music test. It was a fairly big class and we had been a bit slow getting her test organised! We only sorted out the music (which was Wizard’s old music) on the Saturday before and we only practised the whole test the day before! Thankfully, the music suited her and the test went well when I practised it. She warmed up fairly well for the test and I was quite pleased with how she went, we just had a couple of little wobbles and the odd mistake where she is still very green at the level but overall it wasn’t a bad test for her first attempt to music! We scored over 74% and finished 3rd, not far behind the winner, which qualifies us for the winter regionals but we just missed out on qualifying for Wellington’s own championship, but hopefully we will get a wildcard with that score.
Then, on Saturday 14th, we took Wiz and Del to Addington Manor for the Premier League show. Del was on first in the PSG and I was hoping he would go well as he had been super at home in the week leading up to it. His test could only be described as mega, it was much more confident and expressive and he scored a massive 71.36% and won, qualifying him directly to the Nationals! He then did the Inter I and it was also more confident than at Sheepgate but he was tired so it was a bit lacklustre, although there were no major mistakes. We scored 66.71% and finished 9th, but it was a very close fought class as the winner was only 10 marks ahead of us! It was then Wiz’s turn in the Grand Prix and he warmed up very well but he got a bit panicky in the piaffes in the test. The first one I did manage to get but he was very nervous in it and then in the second piaffe, where he had been naughty at Sheepgate, he got very nervous and had a bit of a Wiz moment, but I was able to ride him through it this time and the last piaffe on the centre line was the best I have ever had in a test so, although it was a bit disappointing, I think it was a good outing for him.
After Addington Wiz and Del had a quiet few weeks, so we took Dream (Headmore Dream On) to Merrist Wood on 18th May for another elementary test. It was an evening show so the entries were good and it was fairly busy. Dream warmed up well, she was much more settled than at Fair Oak and her concentration was much better. She was very keen in the test but there were no major mistakes and overall we were very pleased with it. She scored 67.67%, which we were slightly disappointed with as Mum thought it was a 70% test, but this was still good enough to win the class so the judge was obviously just marking quite low! We can’t really complain however, as Dream had done two tests since she had been back and won both of them!
We then took Dream back to Merrist Wood on Saturday 28th to do a couple more elementary tests. She warmed up well for the first test, which was being judged by the same low scoring judge as our previous trip there, and the test was good apart from a few annoying silly mistakes such as she fidgeted in the halts and we had an unexpected flying change which proved to be very costly as we were 3rd, just 2 marks behind the winner, with a score of 65.94%, which is also quite irritating as it was just below the qualifying score... VERY expensive mistakes! We then did a second test for the first time since she’d been back and she was much more settled and much more on my aids than in the first test. It was the hardest test she had done and I was very pleased with it, it felt much better than the first test and it was mistake free, there were just a few wobbly moments as it was quite a difficult test for her at the moment. She scored 71.43% and won, so now she has very nearly completed her elementary qualification so she will hopefully be going out at medium soon as well!
We have also had three new arrivals this month! Ruby, our Rubinstein x Donnerhall mare, had her foal by Dimaggio on 10th, a lovely chestnut colt who has been christened Dumbo in the stable as when he was born his ears were a bit all over the place! He is the first foal to have ears like that when he was born since Del, so let’s hope it’s a good omen! The second new arrival this month is very exciting as it is one of Bracks’ embryo transfer foals, a chestnut filly, also by Dimaggio, was born on 14th and she has been named Dramatica, or Drama for short. The final new arrival this month was my mare Jaffa, who is Wizard’s full sister. She had her foal on 17th, a lovely chestnut filly by Briar. She has been named Buttermere or Flora for short!
It has all been happening this month and all of the horses have been going well so fingers crossed it all stays that way for the rest of the season!
Riding has been in our family for generations. With my mum, Sarah, competing at HOYS and RIHS it was only natural that, as soon as I could walk, I'd end up in the saddle!
As I was growing up I joined the Hampshire Hun
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A manic month for Alice
Building up to the climax of the summer season
Manic May for Alice
A busy and exciting April
Summer competition season kicks off!
A busy February for Alice
A fantastic start to the New Year
Happy New Year
Alice Oppenheimer joins the Dengie Supported Riders