The weather was fab and we arrived at our accommodation by mid afternoon. The ponies had a nice little barn for the night and we managed a quick little hack around before going to walk the course which was only a few minutes away.
Firstly how amazing is Aston Le Walls! I admit I’m a little late to this party as it does seem to be the Mecca of eventing especially when the weather is so volatile (I think they’ve already had nearly 10 events there this year!). So I’m happy to report that I’ve finally broke my Aston Le Walls virginity and it didn’t go too badly.
When walking the course I felt it was a little disappointing as I’d heard that the course from the year below was really challenging and everyone agreed that it had been softened from the previous year. However, there was still plenty of question including a sunken road, double of corners, a water early on and the SJ was very colourful and busy ! I was also slightly apprehensive about how H would cope with going straight from SJ to XC mode. Previously factors like this have upset him as he normally requires a good warm up before XC and with no XC style jump in the warm up I was interested to see how he would cope.
For those who aren’t familiar with the eventer’s challenge format- you jump a course of show jumps and then after jumping the final SJ head straight out on to the XC (unlike in Eventing where you head back to the box to change stirrup lengths etc). This was something I appeared to forget and didn’t realise until I set off on XC and discovered my stirrups were much longer than usual!
But onto my round….
We had a little misunderstanding at the double in the SJ which upset him but I was really quite thrilled with the round and felt it was the best he’s gone- especially when going part the warm up arena which has in the past caused him to spook. I really feel that since using EquiFeast’s Optimax that his concentration levels have improved and his reaction going towards the XC only supported my feelings.
He also coped really well with the ‘closed’ complex which basically was a circle of jumps which allowed you the option to take different lines so long as you jumped in and out of the complex. I say this as the option I picked was quite a tight line and he picked up those tootsies and left the poles up!
After jumping the Riding Club fence we set off and what a ride my chap gave me! He made it feel very easy. We went rather slowly at I felt it was more important for us to get a good rhythm especially when looking at our long term goals for the season, plus this was our first event after Richmond where I hit the ground!
The only disappointing thing was discovering that my EquiFeast cloth which I was using tore (you can see my saddle pad flapping about in the video.) I’m not sure how we did it but we managed to rip the Velcro off at the front. Luckily H was enjoying himself too much to notice his repositioned pad, but now I’m going to have to try and work out how to fix it- which is a scary thought as my sowing isn’t the best!
And finally has anyone noticed something new about my attire thanks to How's Racesafe? Many thanks to Steve and Georgie for the pics.
Learning about my time penalties put a slight downer to the day but as a team we were all thrilled to learn that we had placed eighth out of twenty two teams overall and finished sixth in the best of four competition.
Our clubs other team also had success and finished 4th over all and won the best of four, so we all traveled home very happy!