Big Update for this month with the Second Event Rider Masters (ERM) CIC 3* under our belts at Barbury Castle and St James’s Place Barbury International Horse Trials
The experience of eventing is a fantastic one at the best of times, so being able to take part in the Event Rider Master series was such a great opportunity to help promote the sport and attracted wider audiences. The level of competition is world class with many Olympic/Badminton/Burghley/4 star horses taking part. It has been a massive thrill to compete against these very well known horses and riders at some of the premier events. These people are my idols! My confidence and experience is growing exponentially as is Continuitys ability and experience, so I can’t thank ERM enough for the opportunities given to me!
This has been my third year at the wonderful Barbury Castle. This event is very popular for spectator and rider alike as it provides perfect viewing, great shopping and food, top class commentary, all the iconic riders and of course a very strong and exhilarating cross country track which never fails to thrill! Last year I was thrilled to be 3rd in the CIC2* and I really hoped to come back and contest the 3* this year. We have most definitely done that.
On Saturday I scored a 51.1 for my dressage test, this is a personal best for me at this level and placed us at the top of our seeding section of 10 horses. I was very pleased with the test although a break in the extended trot and a couple of slightly green changes kept us out of the 40’s. However, after an evening chat later in the weekend with Olympic eventer Gemma Tattersall, I attained some super tips to gain more marks at Gatcombe. On watching the replay, the commentators were very complimentary, saying how rideable Brad is and that we just needed to get more expression to gain the higher marks. I was overall very happy with Brad’s attitude and his concentration in a very busy atmosphere. Later in the day I went to walk the cross-country course which had changed quite a bit from the previous years CIC3*: There were two options at the Quarry and after three fences at Stonehenge, the Drop and Triple Brush at the Water there were then more combinations to ride until you then jumped into the Houses and Keyflow Keyhole Water fence in the main arena and then on your way to the finish you popped through the Owl Hole. In total I walked/cycled the course four times before I actually rode it.
So the next day, was jumping day. The ERM show-jumping track was great fun with the upper level of the arena being used to a great advantage for fence 3 ( just at the top of the slope) fences 4 and 5AB, then a drop back down the other side to an Oxer at 6 then a moving line towards the Treble at 7ABC, turn right to the Triple bar at 8 then a choice at 9 of a short route to the Planks or longer route to an Oxer. There was a tight turn back to an upright at 10, a Water Tray Oxer at 11 then an upright at 12 to finish. I was tenth into the arena and Brad had warmed up really well and was very fresh. We both jumped a good round missing out on a clear by me being a bit fast up the slope to fence 3 putting us a little deep to the fence consequently dropping the front rail. We felt super around the rest of the track then over the Oxer at 11 I turned in the air being a bit eager to land and get onto 12 and put two poles down with only myself to blame, but it was definitely progression in this phase for us.
We ran cross-country mid afternoon after the other 3* section had been which worked in our favour meaning the ground had been softened some more in conjunction with the Verti Drain and the very diligent tractor driver so the going was pretty good! Our cross-country round itself was “Ace” and I’m beginning to feel more consistent and fluid jumping at this level. The first 4 fences got you thinking forward. Fence 5AB (short route) rode really well on 5 strides from the big coloured Oxer to the Triple Brush going downhill. Next up was the Cricket Bat and Basket 6AB. The basket is a descent wide fence which we must have rubbed over as we discovered bark lodged between Brads girth and tummy when we stripped the tack off at the end. Then from there we climbed up hill over a Box at 9 to 10AB and 1, the stone hedge fences on an S shape which Brad jumped through like a pony (very nimble and accurate). We then galloped on downhill to a big Box at 12, then 13 (a Trakehner) which both occurred without much thought. Then to the Crocodile at 14, the Ditch Hedge at 15 then on up to the drop into the water and Triple Brush at 16AB which Brad did very carefully on 5 strides rather than the 4 which tended to make jumping the triple brush a bit more of a challenge. Over the hedge at 17, Silver Birch Rails at 18, a combination at 19 and 20, single fences at 21 and 22 and then on down into the arena for the House with a log drop into water and House jump before jumping a roll top. Next up was through the Owl Hole and over the Castle to finish. As you can tell it’s all still very fresh in my memory (ha!) and I came home with 5.6 time penalties which made us the 9th fastest horse out of the CIC3* and the ERM class. So happy with that! With tack removed, many buckets of water later and the IceVibe boots on doing their job, we watched on as the rest of the field jumped.
After some run out’s and falls by other competitors we finished 13th out of a very strong field which was a wonderful result, gaining us more ERM points to raise us in the rankings. The event was superb as always and has stood us in good stead for the British Open Championships at The Festival or British Eventing, another ERM, at Gatcombe next month.
All the best everyone and Crack on!
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Photos Courtesy Of CDC ‘Horses and More’ Photograph