For those that don’t know what BE100+ is I’ll explain it. The Dressage is a Novice BE test, the SJ is bigger than a 100 on a whole and can incorporate 1-2 fences at Novice height although the full course is not up to Novice height and the XC is ran over 100 level.
The class was the last of the day and was had lovely leisurely start times, and planned to get there with plenty of time to walk the course and get our bearings for this new event. However, Bank holiday traffic and a severe car accident which required the air ambulance’s attendance made our journey nearly 2 hours longer than expected. We arrived at Dalston with only 50minutes to spare, luckily we discovered it was a nice compact event and managed to run round the XC before getting on for Dressage. Que our next drama…. Our farrier had threaded the stud holes too big so our studs were just spinning around and not going in, luckily a bit of tin foil around each one solved the issue temporarily (although we did lose 2 throughout the phases!), but it did add extra time to the scenario. Thankfully the arena was running a bit late and H was in a very chilled out mood and we entered the dressage arena feeling quite positive; that was until we heard a BANG!! Turns out the dressage arena for our section backed on to a community tennis court and there was a group playing (so you can imagine the noises as the ball crashed into the wire fence or was smashed overhead!). Considering H is a hot horse he coped very well, but I was a little upset that the organisers chose to put a dressage arena in that spot- definitely an area in which the venue could improve!
Over all he coped very well with the new movements, I thought his medium trot was good along with his leg yielding and he managed to do the canter-trot-canter transition which we had been struggling with rather confidently. Sadly he did break in the canter towards the end and got a little tense when near the tennis court. The judge however, was very generous to us and in the section as a whole, and wrote some lovely comments. In the end it also turned out that we scored 30.8 in our 1st Novice BE test!!!!
For the SJ I decided to walk the course. It was in quite a compact grass arena but had a nice flow to it. I’m unsure if it was down to the fact that I hadn’t jumped in a while (let alone the horse!), but the height difference from a normal 100 was noticeable. Over all there was probably only 3 jumps up to Novice height, 2 parallels and 1 upright which had a blue filler underneath and was positioned on top of a ramp .
Again we were lucky that we were at the end of the day so were told to just go in when we were ready. In the warm up H was really pinging (which is sometimes quite worrying), we went in and he was really trying and certainly saved me from a major blunder at fence four! In fact he was trying so hard for me that he only went and jumped a CLEAR ROUND!!!
For some this might not seem like such a big deal, but for a horse that really struggles in the SJ phase any clear round is an achievement, let alone one over the biggest course he’s done to date! The no-jumping ethos is not one that I’d personally choose for myself but whilst its working for H we will stick with it, in the mean time I might have to try and see if I can find another horse that I can have a play with to keep my eye in!
We then went over to the XC to discover that we’d be the last to run of the day. The course wasn’t particularly long and didn’t have a water jump but it did have two log jumps with sloping ground behind them which was causing problems, some ditches and steps, a corner and two turning combinations. The fences however, came up really fast and it was difficult to find a forward rhythm.
Over all though I was really happy with H and he stormed round bar one hiccup where we had an argument regarding pace in one combination and got too close to the second part (typically my father managed to get the whole round on video but at this one fence his footing slipped and gets an unbalanced shot- so you can’t really see what happened!). Although, this hiccup confirmed my thoughts that BE100 is no longer proving a challenge for him and we do need to step up.
It turns out we added 3.2 time (which I admit to being slightly disappointed about at first!), however, I later saw the results and out of the 128 competitors to run over the BE100 XC only 16 made the time, which made me feel slightly better about the situation, although I could certainly use some pace training over the next few weeks!
So after such a lovely day I’ve finally decided to take James advice (he’s been telling us since last year!) to step up next time out! EEEEKKKKKK!!!
And to top it off we even left with an 8th place frilly!