Summer competition season kicks off!
Now that the summer competition season is really kicking off, we have been getting quite busy with virtually all of the horses going to a party of some description this month!
Firstly, on 2nd, we took Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) to Quob to try and get more points towards her elementary and medium qualification. She warmed up well for the elementary and we were very pleased with her test, it flowed well and it felt easy for her. She scored 70% to win the class, completing her qualification at elementary. We then had a medium test and, although she warmed up well, she was a bit tired in the test so went a little bit wobbly and had a few mistakes, keeping the mark down just below 67%, finishing 3rd but adding a few more points towards her qualification.
Wiz (Wurlizer) and I then had our first affiliated outing at Inter II in the pick your own class at Sparsholt on 5th. He started off a bit grumpy in the warm up but it really made me ride him and he was super by the time we went into the arena. I was very pleased with our test, the piaffe and canter pirouettes were much better than they had been in the arena, and we got a few 8’s as well! There is still some room for improvement but we are definitely going the right way. We scored 66.58% and finished 5th in a massive class, and I didn’t disgrace myself so all in all we were very pleased with the result!
Then, on Monday 7th, we had our third outing in a week (I said we had been busy!!!) with Bjorn (Headmore Bjorndajoke) and Bracks. Bjorn was doing his first proper affiliated elementary test and, thankfully, it was a nice easy one in a long arena! He was beautifully behaved in the warm up and I was very pleased with how he was going as we entered the arena. He backed off me a little as he had never seen anything like it before but he trusted me when I said it was alright and didn’t lose his expression and forwardness. There were a couple of big baby mistakes in the test, one of them because he had to do a canter transition towards a load of squawking birds which, understandably, was very scary! However, he stayed with me throughout the test and we finished on a score of 68% to win, so I was very pleased with that especially as he had mistakes!
Bracks then did a medium test and I knew that she only needed a few more points to complete her qualification so I was hoping that we might get it done. She was a bit hot in the warm up but she settled by the time we went down for the test. Her way of going was super and she was almost a bit too expressive in the trot (which the judge did comment on!) but that isn’t a bad thing as I will need it one day! There were a few little bits in the test that could be improved on but overall I was very pleased with her as it was much better than it had been at Quob the week before. We scored 71.47% and won, thus completing her qualification. She will now go out and start competing at advanced medium so watch this space!
Then, on Sunday 13th, I had my final regional foundation squad training of the two year cycle. I took Zué, the Lusitano stallion, as he was doing his first proper competition the following weekend so I thought it would be good for him to have an outing first. Zué is the horse who has benefited the most from his Dengie diet, the Alfa-A has really helped him to build muscle without him becoming too over the top in his behaviour. He was very well behaved and went well in my lesson with Jill and she was impressed with how much he has improved over the winter, particularly his trot. I had a super lesson but unfortunately it will be my last with Jill as she is now stepping down as our trainer. I then had my review with Tasha and we were pleased with my progress and I am now really looking forward to the new season and will hopefully be back on the programme again. Following that, I had a session on the simulator with Michelle and I am now really getting the hang of it. Michelle was really testing me and I had to mix up my half halts with complete transitions which was really testing me, especially as I had only just got the hang of half halts! However, I did manage it in the end, but it was really hard work! I am hoping to go back and have more lessons on the simulator in future even though we don’t have any more squad sessions, and I would certainly recommend it to anyone as it is brilliant fun and also very helpful!
Zué then had his first proper outing at Merrist Wood on 19th. His owner, Sherie Vicary-Carter, came up to plait him up and get him ready as my plaits in his long mane aren’t yet good enough to be seen in public! He certainly scrubs up well and we definitely looked the part. He was a good boy in the warm up but with it being his first proper outing and with him being a stallion, he just struggled to maintain his concentration for the entire time, but he behaved beautifully and we had no unscheduled airs above the ground or capriole, which Zué is very good at! In the first test, he managed to stay concentrated until we had to do our halt immobility when, and it was just bad timing, a horse walked past the arena. However, he did come back to me and there were definitely good bits and bad bits to the test and we finished 3rd, not bad for his first test. It then wasn’t long until our second test so I went back into the warm up. At times he got himself a bit wound up and showed everyone his natural ability for a piaffe, but he did settle back down and his second test was much better, he stayed with me much more and his concentration was better but he had got a bit tired and felt a little bit wobbly and green in places which kept the score down. However, we were very pleased with it for his first outing and he now just needs to go out again and gain more experience and then he’ll be well away!
Then, on 27th, we took Wiz and Del (Headmore Delegate) to Sparsholt for another crack at Grand Prix on Wiz and PSG on Del in their unaffiliated before Keysoe Premier league. We had been training hard in the lead up to it and I was hoping for an improvement from both boys to give me a confidence boost before Keysoe. Wiz was on first doing the Grand Prix and he was not in the best of moods in the warm up, I think he is getting a bit bored of Sparsholt as he has competed there the last four times he’s been out! However he did settle but he wasn’t quite firing on all cylinders when we went into the test but overall it was much better. His piaffe is developing but he now struggles to maintain the extra expression we can now get as he is not quite strong enough, but the first few steps we had were amazing before he ran out of energy! The half passes and canter pirouettes were much better and, as always, his changes (which are his favourite bit) were superb. Unfortunately he ran out of puff on the final centre line so our last piaffe left a bit to be desired but on the whole it was much better than our first attempt and we are going the right way, let’s hope I don’t embarrass myself at Keysoe! We scored 65.11% to finish an eventual 5th. It was then Del’s turn doing the PSG. He hadn’t been out for about 2 months but was very settled and warmed up well. He has really progressed over the winter and is much stronger and more expressive and was phenomenal in the warm up. He got a little tense in the test but there were no major mistakes, although there is still a lot of room for improvement once he has gained some confidence at the level. We scored 68.68% and won and he is now all set to contest the PSGs at Keysoe in a couple of weeks, so fingers crossed for both horses!
Finally, on 28th, we took Bjorn and Zué to Wellington for a couple of elementary tests. Bjorn was on first in the non qualifier and he warmed up fairly well but the test was in a little indoor arena which was dark and a bit claustrophobic which made Bjorn a little unnerved which kept the score down at just 65% and he finished 4th. Zué then did the same test and he was very excited in the warm up and was really struggling to concentrate so I decided to use the test as a schooling round to try and get him to settle, which he eventually did in the end. I then stayed on him for his second test which was much better and he was more settled but he was a little on the tired side so scored 64.12%, but it was a massive improvement. I then got back on Bjorn for his second test and he came out more fresh the second time than he had come out originally! I was very pleased with his test, for the first time it felt like a dressage test and he was much more balanced and coped well with all of the transitions and circles, but I was very disappointed with the score as I felt it was harshly marked, but at least he is progressing well.
So that is my busy March in a nutshell and things are set to get even more hectic as the summer progresses!
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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