Another busy month for me and smiles all round….
We competed at The Festival of British Eventing which was no walk in the park as Continuity and I were in great company again in the Open Championships combined the Event Rider Masters leg 5. Since our first ERM at Chatsworth I really feel that we have both strived to up our game, being up against top names in the sport and receiving commentary from such experienced people has benefitted us enormously. I have been able to seek advice from people such as Gemma Tattersall (tips on improving our dressage), Ben Hobday (comments on how to ride the cross-country), Harry Meade (Course walk at Chatsworth) the Kings (Borrowing their freezer for our ice boots!), It really is a welcoming and supportive sport at any level and the riders have been good to me as the “new boy” At the end of the day there is obviously the prize money, kudos, media, sponsorship etc but really riders just want their horse to go well and have a blast!
So for my dressage music at Gatcombe I thought MC Hammer and “Cant Touch This”, would be a perfect choice (snigger, oops) for my trot work but in actual fact it just made us look like we were going too fast! The crowd and the ERM guys enjoyed it but I must remember to impress the judges first and foremost. Even so Ed Sheeran helped for the rest of the test and our mark was within normal parameters of our other tests this season.
Later after my dressage, onto the cross-country course walk (1stof many). If you haven’t been to The Festival of Eventing at Gatcombe you should make a plan for next year to compete or spectate or volunteer. The terrain plays a massive part in the cross-country, you never jumping a fence off level ground and it is so thrilling to just ride totally by feel and let your horse do its thing. The fences are big and the combinations take a few times of walking to really cement in your head how you want to ride it. The Advanced horses gallop through a barn and out over a huge table (a 1st for us) as well as going in and out of water 4 times, oh, and of course the steep drop after fence three, the jumping across a road and the famous log jump into the water and out over the boat.
Show jumping the following morning was very educational. Brad had warmed up well on the big slope outside of the main ring but as I went in I didn’t pull my canter together strongly enough and the first two fences were tickled down. I must make sure that I have him pulling me enough as in the warm-up but it was hard to achieve that feeling due to the terrain. Lesson learnt from fence 3, I got into gear and we were flying round jumping fab. I got a little too close to fence 9 but then jumped the Event Rider Master Planks clear and sailed home over the treble. So 3 poles and inside the time and a lesson learnt. I’m always learning it seems!
A nap later and cross-country was upon us and I was very excited but I was also very aware that a serious course lay ahead and I had to really hold my line, keep riding forward and keep looking for the next fence. As we set out Brad was really connected and keen, pulling me which feels amazing, he was so keen with his ears pricked coming into every fence. Wish I could get that showjumping! The feeling of zooming down a steep slope using your voice and a very minimal half halt to balance and then sailing over a fence with very little effort is wonderful. The whole course was riding by feel and not too much thought and we came home clear with some time faults but I hadn’t actually pushed Brad to go fast so I was over the moon with him.
Brilliant event and our last ERM this year onto Blenheim CCI3*
Crack on guys till next time!
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