Blog 8: A very educational month..
The last month has been pretty hectic as usual, although we have competed as much, the competitions we have done have involved staying over night which always makes it seem much busier!
In the middle of June we headed off to Nunney, with Lily in the Novice and Coco in our first 2*. It was a really lovely event, everyone was really helpful and the whole thing felt like an occasion. The only bit that spoilt it was the weather! We got there on the Saturday and poor Lily got completely soaked. I went through 3 pairs of gloves and 3 jackets.
Lilys dressage was much improved, despite the rain being like buckets of water thrown in our faces, she was settled and concentrating, a couple of minor miscommunications were nothing in a test that I felt was finally coming together. The judge clearly agreed giving her a score of 29.5 - right up there after the dressage. Unfortunately the rain had fallen on firm enough ground and made it a bit slippy in the show jumping. Despite this she jumped a great round, really trying for me. I saw a very long shot into the combination, she added a stride between each part but neatly and jumped it clear. The last fence was a plain upright, I think we both lost our focus a bit round the corner and when she got there she wasn't expecting it so slipped through it. I gave her a pat as it wasn't naughtiness and came round again, she had another stop and so the next time I came round I made sure I rode it really positively and she jumped it. After that we decided not to run her cross country as we didn't want to scare her - it has taken me too long to get her confidence cross country and she doesn't need a knock to her confidence. It was a real shame though as she had tried really hard all day. Then it was Cocos dressage time, he was a bit tense and tight but got better as the test went on and there were some moments of real quality. We were left on a score 53, which I was really pleased with as there is still so much to come. I was feeling more confident about the show jumping after our practice at eaglesfield earlier in the week so I went in and rode what I felt was one of the best rounds I have ridden on him. He jumped very well but was a bit unlucky to just touch the back rail of the second last for 4 faults, but we are definitely getting there! The cross country was causing a lot of trouble, and I knew I had to get out there and attack it. He was great the whole way except at the double of corners at fence 8. They were big brush corners off a tight turn and a short distance with a long two strides between them. He came off the corner and I don't think he could work out what they were or how he was supposed to jump them! He ran out at the first part, I turned round and he jumped the first one then ran past the 2nd one. But I got him over it on the second attempt. So although a 60 on paper doesn't look good, he was actually really fab and took me round apart from the little blip at one fence. Only about 40% of the field finished with a clear XC so not bad at all. He also did feel a bit flat, I think he has had a lot of runs in a relatively short space of time.
Our next run after Nunney was Barbury CIC2* with Coco. After Nunney we spoke to Simple System and asked them what they would recommend to give him an energy boost but without creating fizz! They suggested target feeding TopNosh an hour before the jumping. So armed with this information we headed to Barbury. First I must say what a gorgeous, fantastically run and fantastically set up event it is - definitely up there on the favourites list! We had 9.50 dressage on Friday morning, which was good as it was before it got too hot. He warmed up well, but the judge took ages to ring the bell - three times round the edge was a bit much for Coco and his brain had started to have had enough. I was pleased with his test, he tried hard and there were some really good moments - which the judge clearly agreed with as we got a few 8s! There were also a lot of silly mistakes which prevented us gettting a mark in the 40s, but an improvement on Nunney for 52.5 wasn't bad at all! We then had all day Friday and all day Saturday to wait as I didn't show jump till 4.40 Saturday afternoon. However, this gave me time to establish what fences were going to be tricky and where I needed to take alternatives etc. The show jumping was causing a few poles here and there but nothing too bad. Coco jumped a really good round but was unlucky to have a couple of fences down, which was a shame as the round he jumped shouldn't have been 8 faults. None the less it was a qualifying result, which was what we are trying to achieve. Then it was cross country time - it was very hot on Saturday afternoon, so we fed Coco soaked Topnosh before his jumping phases so not only was it energy, but having it soaked was hydrating too. It seemed to do the trick as he flew round the course, and it was the first time he has really taken the bridle and carried me cross country which is a really lovely feeling. He made it feel easy, we took the alternative at the corners at 10AB as we didn't want to risk a silly run out. My only iffy moment was when he really hit the turtle coming out of the 2nd water and twisted - but I was not going to fall off after we had jumped the most tricky fences! He finished with 10 time, which wasn't bad at all and we were left in 30th place out of nearly 100 starters. I feel we are really starting to get an established partnership now, so we are going to back off the eventing with him now - especially as the ground is getting hard and give him a mini break, before picking him back up for the Autumn aiming for Gatcombe CIC2* and Weston CCI2*