The week before
Wednesday night we had a lesson, it had certainly been a while since we had one, and Eva and I did need a bit of a nudge – read “kick up the ass” – in the right direction as I was descending back in to the habit of doing everything. And Eva was getting her way.
I like to have a lesson quite close to a competition as I find it refreshes your motivation and it tunes you in to what you need to focus on.
During the lesson we worked a lot on Eva carrying herself and by the end of the lesson we managed to achieve a fantastic canter where I could sit up and focus on myself rather than having to ask for every single stride in the canter.
The farrier was due out on the Friday and I was really hoping for Eva to have her front shoes back on. However after discussing it with my farrier her feet are doing fine without just now and they just need to grow a little more for a shoe to go on and stay on. I can’t really complain my horse is sound and unbothered and the farrier bill is nice and cheap! I just need to be aware when at the competition that it will be a little on the slippy side so to not allow Eva to barrel round corners.
On the day
First off she loaded like a gem! Do we only load first time on competition days ? I don’t know but I’ll take it!
Eva was so chilled coming off the lorry, getting tacked up and warming up I had to double check I had the right horse! During the test we did tense up a little but her canter was still feeling great from our lesson. We came out with a 33.8 from the test which I am quite happy with. We were sitting in 15th out of 30+ competitors.
After the dressage I loaded her back on the lorry without any fuss what so ever and went to grab breakfast then walk/run round the xc.
For the jumping I changed the bit so that I would have something a little stronger and Im glad I did. The Showjumping had all the tents, people and burger vans around it and Eva did get a little excitable!
She was trotting side ways and fussing a lot when we entered the warm up but as we had plenty of time we did settle down. I didn’t want to do too much in the warm up as I wanted to save our energy for XC as there were one or two hills we needed to get up.
As soon as Evas front leg entered the arena for showjumping the bell went off and our name was announced. I only heard the announcement of our name and not the bell so ended up trotting a few circles looking at the judges box before they told me that the bell had gone. Overall the course was ok. We had two down and I definitely could of ridden both those jumps a lot better as for both the jumps we knocked we were unbalanced and rushing.
I was kicking myself because I was hoping for clear round as I know she can easily do it. But we hadn’t time to think about that as we straight back to the lorry to get ready for the xc.
SO the cross country ……..
The warm up she was feeling on form, taking me towards the warm up jumps and everything we were just feeling fab and I was quite excited for the course.
Then came the course.
I was slightly worried about the first jump, which she ended up flying over no bother. Great, I thought, we are off!
But we then realised we were leaving everyone behind and heading off on our own.
Suddenly we had a massive case of stage fright.
Heres a representation of our line from jump 1 to jump 2 .
At two we had a refusal and I lost a stirrup.
Not thinking much of loosing the stirrup I represented at the jump and we popped over.
We then wiggled our way towards three and I was trying to figure out why I couldn’t get my stirrup back.
The elastic had broken.
Therefore I could kind of use the stirrup but I kept loosing it and so for the majority of the rest of the course I rode with one stirrup!
Not really how I was expecting my second xc to go but oh well!
Our wiggle line was continued for all of the course. In fact we ended up over the time and I think if we had taken a straight route for the jumps we would of been with in the time even with the refusals.
It wasn’t until third from last that we had another refusal at and we almost parted ways but I managed (somehow!) to stay on and represent. By this point in the course I was just riding with one stirrup, I had given up trying to get it back just to loose it again.
The last two we flew over with out a second glance and I think we were both pleased to be finished!
The lesson I have learnt is I really need to get out hacking again. I haven’t been doing so much with her being barefoot I wanted to protect her feet so I have been staying in the schools. But our stage fright was in part to us not going out on our own. Therefore even if we walk the whole way we need to hack.
What with our two poles down in the showjumping and two refusals plus time on xc we finished last place out of those who completed which was 30th as there were a few eliminated on the cross country. While I wasn’t going to be competitive and my only aim was to get round in one piece I do wish we didn’t poop our pants at the second jump on the cross country as unfortunately that just set the tone for the rest of the course.
Something that I wasn’t expecting was how pleased I am with her dressage! I feel it was our best phase over all that day which is not something I thought I would be saying. I thought our showjumping would be our best phase. I was expecting fire breathing dragon Eva to come out during the dressage warm up as we were fresh off the lorry but that is actually the point we were most chilled with!
Also the loading! She was on and off the lorry multiple times during the day and each time she loaded was just in the head collar and no other help needed and she was quite happy standing in it!
I am already looking forward to the next one and I have learnt a few lessons that I am going to work on for next time!