After fun at camp last time and Socks falling in love, Heather tells us why her annual Burghley trip was almost in jeopardy.
For the rest of July, we had some Actual Competitions planned. I had a bit of a shock on the Wednesday before as the competition was only a few days away, and I hadn’t even looked at the tests yet…
And Socks was in the midst of her ongoing battle with the pigeons that live around our school.
Saturday 15th July – BRC Area 8 Summer Dressage Qualifier, Meadow Lane
This time, areas had me in a bit of a quandary. On one hand, I of course wanted to do well and qualify, but on the other, the championships are the same weekend as Burghley.
Now, anybody who knows me knows that my annual pilgrimage to Burghley with my Mum and Fairy Godmother is possibly more exciting for me than my birthday.
“Stop counting your chickens before they’ve hatched, Heather,” I told myself.
Areas themselves were held at a venue Socks knew well – which, as we all know, can either be a blessing or a curse.
Luckily, the warm up space was lovely and large, so we could find our own space to work in without Socks spooking at every horse cantering anywhere near her.
Which, of course, she did anyway, just from about fifty metres away. Oh well, I tried.
Our other challenge was to manoeuvre Socks and Squirt around the show ground without either of them knowing the other was there.
Now was not the time for romantic reunions! Josh was in the same classes and arenas as us though, and at very close times, so Socks did at least have one friend.
The first test was Novice 27, and I’m starting to dream about it because I’ve ridden it so many times.
My chosen tactic was to not argue, have a chill out test, and go for harmony marks. It paid off!
The test felt so easy and together, and definitely like we both enjoyed it - especially the medium trots!
Mum and a couple of my other team mates all said it was a really nice test, so I had my fingers crossed that the judge agreed!
We then had an hour before our other test, the BRC Novice Riding Test, where most of our preparation consisted of watching everyone on the ground trying to catch a loose horse who was galloping around the warm up having a wonderful time.
I decided to try the same tactics again, just with an added mantra: “Hands still, head up, hands still, head up…” Again, it went really well! Even if my circles were a bit pear shaped.
Results up, and we rode a 69.46% in the Novice 27 for individual third, and a 76% (!!!) in the riding test for… 11th place. Oh well, still a personal best for this year! And all it took was for me to calm down and let Socks get on with it.
A win/win situation for me, then – two tests I was happy with, an individual placing, and my Burghley Pilgrimage was safe!
No rest for the wicked, though, as our next engagement was the following weekend: our first go at ROR showing!
Sunday 23rd July – Mid Herts Country Show, The College Equestrian Centre, Keysoe
Showing has always been something we said we’d have a go at - our old pony, Lego, was a show pony before we had her and I feel like Mum has always wanted to try it properly.
If I’m honest, after watching some of the pony classes, I’m pretty sure Mum has earmarked my first born child to ride in show classes.
We entered the ROR Amateur Ridden class, and Socks took the loss of her Micklem and ear covers quite well, considering.
Expecting a big class, we decided that our aim was to get some nice comments from the judge and possibly place.
After getting there and realising that there were only three in the class, our objective changed: don’t come third!
It was a miserable, drizzly day and so warming up was like riding a trampoline: one wrong move and off we bounced.
I must've looked like a lunatic, trotting around, avoiding other horses while singing away to try and calm down my horse.
In the ring
She was in that risky mood, where she’d either have everything about her and be super flashy, or lose the plot completely.
Thankfully, she was somewhere in the middle, (in all senses) and was pulled in second!
The judge said that she was a very talented little horse and complimented us on our show.
She very kindly didn’t mention our slight mistake in our simple change – that’ll teach me to show off, won’t it!
We got another chance to strut our stuff the following day, when Debbie asked me to demonstrate our ridden show for the girls at Pony Club Camp at the yard, up in the hayfield.
Of course, the hayfield is massive and the ground was great.
Could I resist going for a gallop? Of course not.
One of the older girls took a video, and the younger girls’ comments are absolutely brilliant. They range from:
“Is she supposed to be doing that?”
“She’s so awesome!”
There’s no ego boost like riding a big horse and going fast in front of pony-mad girls!
I helped them (read: plaited hundreds of ponies) the next day for their show and they all did fantastically well – even if Debbie was tearing her hair out slightly!
Jumping is on the agenda for next August but, as my shifts are still somewhat up in the air, when and where are a mystery for the future. Who knows!
See you all soon!