Graduated and Raring to Go: pesky rolled poles and personal bests

Heather's not one to dwell when things go wrong during her time eventing, as we find out in her latest blog...

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Since my last blog, we've been to the Fibre-Beet British Riding Clubs (BRC) Festival of the Horse Championships — a target ticked off my list!

Before going, we had a quick bop around the cross-country at Keysoe to check there were no real issues and to get Socks used to going out on her own.

Luckily, she was confident over everything — even over the ditch!

20th May: BRC Festival of the Horse, Aston le Walls

The two phases we entered we’d smashed the week before, so I was feeling confident about the day.

After a quick flatwork tune-up with Petros on the Friday before D-day, and armed with some magical new exercises from my instructor, I was in a great mindset to tackle the dressage.

(Shoulder-in changed our lives, but doing transitions at the same time? Amazing!)

All I can say is that I think Bear must have been a bit bored, as she felt the need to show off in what could otherwise have been a nice, supple, rhythmical canter movement. Randomly, she also decided to throw in a flying change — just because she could.

But despite Socks’ overachieving, we still came out with a much more respectable score of 31.55. 

Bring on the showjumping and there was only one fence I thought we might have issues with, a  bright red one with ladybirds on it.

As we learned last time, Socks seems to have an aversion to garden insects on jumps so I made sure I showed it to her before we started our round.

After that, she jumped the ladybirds beautifully. However, the green bridge that we’d jumped the week before, suddenly she didn't like that.

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With some persuasion, we managed to get over the green bridge, but not without picking up four faults for knocking it down.

Half of me was really pleased. Socks said she didn’t want to jump it and I said that I didn’t care, we were jumping it anyway.

But while I was over the moon that Socks didn’t stop, those four faults cost us a top ten finish.

Again, I had to remind myself that what we did that day would have been completely out of the question two years ago (see my first blog) and, actually, a 14th place finish at our first championship for five years is something to celebrate.

But, again, no time to dwell on it, because we were off to Houghton International the following weekend for our next attempt at an elementary dressage test. 

27th May: BRC dressage at Houghton International

After the issues we had last year — getting caught up in beach traffic — I wasn't taking any chances and we left home at 5am. Luckily, the day justified the early start.

Our first test, Novice 23, went like a dream. Socks had beautiful rhythm, self-carriage and actually showed extension in the medium trotwork.

We turned down the centre line, saluted, and I’ve never grinned so widely.

Happily, the judge agreed and we came out with 70%. Since I’ve been chasing the elusive 7-0 off the yard for a while, I was buzzing even before I saw we’d placed third.

It was a hot day, so by the time we got to our second test, both me and Socks wanted to go and throw ourselves in the water on the cross-country course.

Instead, we pulled out a very respectable Elementary 40 test for 63.67% — our best score yet! And better still, we placed 10th.

All in all...

Our busiest month drew to a close with two personal bests. We’ve got a couple of weeks of rest now and then some training to do before we make another attempt at a one-day event. In the meantime, I intend to get in some good hacking miles as part of our quest to #hack1000miles with Your Horse magazine.

Find out more about #hack1000miles and sign up for our fun, free, achievable challenge here.

Don’t miss the latest issue of Your Horse Magazine, jam-packed with training and veterinary advice, horse-care tips and the latest equestrian products available on shop shelves, on sale now. Find out what’s in the latest issue here.