Graduated and raring to go: With a bounce and a prance

This week, Heather tells us all about her first competition as a trio with her mum and Socks. 

I feel like I owe you all an apology. I got excited about Spring, and the beginning of May was all rain showers. I won’t mention anything about how I’m excited we’re seeing signs of summer, I promise… but we have been able to give Socks her first bath of the year!

Socks looking super shiny after her bath

Socks looking super shiny after her bath

30th April: Cambridge and District Riding Club Anniversary Show, Cottenham Racecourse

 

At the end of last month, we went to our Riding Club’s anniversary show. The aim was to test out our newfound jumping bravery and get started on some dressage on grass.

For mum, the aim was merely to get there – she tried to go every single year I was at university, but every time something went wrong.

Of course, because both me and mum were doing classes and they were all quite close together time-wise, it meant that whoever wasn’t riding at the time had to trail along holding the saddle that wasn’t being used, which didn’t do much for any grooming abilities.

 

Our first competition as a three this year!

Our first competition as a three this year!

Mum drew the short straw, riding first: we hadn’t considered that this was the biggest party that Socks would've been to for a long time, and she was, er, a bit fresh.

Despite this, they did a very nice Prelim 7 for 69.09% for seventh place!

Up until this point, I was convinced that Socks was tense because mum was nervous and Socks was picking up on it. It wasn’t until I got on that I realised quite how wired she was.

Switch to the GP saddle, and we bounced across the showground toward the Working Hunter arena.

We nearly came unstuck when a toddler decided to roll down a mound, in the middle of a field with horses everywhere. Excellent parenting skills...!

One hysterical spin and a stank glare at the father from me, and we carried on.

In the ring

Socks warmed up like nothing could stop her, which is always a good sign, and when we got in the ring we were straight over the first fence, no fuss.

After that I can only assume that Socks forgot that there are normally other fences in a jump round. Her reaction to fence two was something along the lines of: “WHOA. Since when did THAT get there?!”.

And the same for fence four, and then fence six as well. But, she did then jump the second time, where normally she’d have lost the plot completely and couldn’t possibly jump anything else.

I think she’s just getting so excited she forgets to actually focus on where she’s putting her feet.

There was a wonderful picture of us going over fence three, where from my shoulders down there’s a lovely picture of a combination jumping a rustic fence.

My face, however, is midway through a guttural roar of “GET ON!!”. It’s very attractive.

Onward, and another change back to the dressage saddle. I very much got a sense of, “sorry, mum, I did a silly, didn’t I,” from Socks, and we produced the best Novice 30 we’ve ever done: 69.4% for first place and the best ROR score for the day!

As usual, I was fuming that we didn’t manage 70, but we all know even if I got Olypmic gold I’d still be angry at myself for missing a change.

We did, however, win a bottle of NAF shampoo, which beats my current prize money record of £5.50. Little things!

Back into the GP saddle for our last classes of the day. Let’s do a clear round, we thought, and just sort out any stopping.

I asked my friend Rachel to come and yell at me, which she did, and no stops in sight.

Hurrah! Our showjumping class was 75cm, and fence 10, a pair of wiggly planks, was causing a lot of problems. I knew we wouldn’t be any different.

Use the rest of the course as a confidence builder, I thought, then come at it slowly, to let her have a look.

The confidence building was going well, until Socks spooked from five strides out at this fence:

Answers on a postcard, please? 

Answers on a postcard, please? 

And then we had the regulation stop at fence 10, too. BUT. We weren’t eliminated, and people after both jump rounds told me I rode well.

No-one has ever said that about my jumping before! I also didn’t realise until after that I wasn’t scared.

It used to be that, because I’d fallen off so much, just seeing a jump being put up would give me palpitations, but recently not at all.

At least I know I’ve got some of my nerve back, even if Socks hasn’t quite got hers. But then, there’s part of me which thinks maybe we should just leave jumping for fun at home to improve flatwork… we’ll see.

I’ve got a horse for having fun with, not for getting stressed over!

For the rest of the month, confidence aside, we ended up doing mostly dressage in what little time I had for my horse anyway.

Extra training and courses at work made time a premium

We were planning to go to the BRC competition at Houghton International at the end of the month, and two weeks before, I was a fully qualified pool plant technician, but still hadn’t ridden in a long arena. We had a long way to go.

Was I thinking about that, though? Of course not, mum and I were off to Badminton Horse Trials! Meet our new mascot, Bearberry:

He’s less of a fussy eater than Socks

He’s less of a fussy eater than Socks

That’s all from me for now, but first I’d like to welcome mine and Socks’ good friends/xc leaders/bicycle shields Georgie and Sheamus to the Your Horse blogging team! You can read all about what they get up to here: http://www.yourhorse.co.uk/the-students-horse