Monday, 1 August 2011

Stafford BE90

My aim for the last couple of years has been to do a BE90. I knew Mal was more than capable but thought she wouldn't be ready until next year, but mal being Mal was more than ready this year. SO I decided to give Stafford (2) BE90 a go as it is a gorgeous course and a favourite of mine for a while.
Walking it, I was pleased to have chosen it, gorgeous ground and a beautifully presented course. Thought it would require a bold horse, but Mally is so confident normally I wasn't bothered. A few turns to skinnies that concerned me as I steering is still a work in progress!

Due to being 'local' and entering as soon as entries opened, I was up at 3am (!!!!!) Friday morning, a time I have only seen from the other side, when stumbling into bed. Mally was less than pleased to be dragged out of bed and then have her hair fiddled with, she and I are very similar in a lot of ways.

Arrived in plenty of time, and started working Mally in for Dressage. Recently I've been riding her in spurs to get her used to them for the jumping parts, but decided to leave them off for Dressage and she can over-react to them slightly. Think it paid off as she was fairly accepting of my leg and we definitely had less tail swishing than normal, perhaps she has realised there are worse things to be kicked by than my leg.
I decided to canter her around whilst waiting for the judge to beep, as this normally makes her settle in trot better. I rode her in the outline she does the majority of her work in, a bit longer and lower than the rest of the horses there, but it kept her far more relaxed and I was happy with the test. A few bit that could have been better, I need to ask for downward transitions better and ride my canter transition in the correct corner

Was really pleased with a 39, improved on her previous performances but I know it can be better.

On to Show Jumping, and with KC's 'look at your fences, allow the line to become natural' and 'scoop her up with your legs' ringing in my ears I proceeded to ride like a muppet in the warm up
Into the ring and she was brilliant, I really felt like we got it right. There were a couple of sticky bits where she had to help me out, but because I hadn't killed her canter she could and we jumped clear.

To say I was chuffed is a slight under statement!

Got changed and went down to the XC, and made my first mistake, put my stirrups up a hole when they were already at XC length. Ignored how short they felt and carried on.

Mally flew the first fence, googled at the flowers on the second fence but jumped it, round the corner and up the mound to the skinny-ish log and was really pleased with how she jumped it! Galloped at some people, but they got out the way, and over 4, 5 was a big brush and I thought Mal would over-jump it, as she always does with brush!
She did a lovely jump, but took off early and I got mighty left behind! Slipped my reins and then had no control on landing, headed for the crowd and just managed to turn in time!
I think the jump over the brush rattled us both and I got Mal back far too much and then didn't kick on. She would normally ignore me and go anyway, but she went green and stopped. Turned and jumped it fine the second time, but then carried on being green and wobbly, nearly dumped me on the floor (not helped by mega short stirrups!) she shot so quickly to the side, but carried on jumping as long as I kicked on.
Next combination I did exactly the same thing, killed all forward momentum and she stopped. Jumped it fine second time and started to get back into the swing of it.
Fairly stormed around the next few, including two skinnies on a straight line, jumped through what is normally the water (but was empty!) fabulously, through the sunken road perfectly (more on that later!) and finished with her confidence back to normal.

I felt really disappointed in myself, even more so when I was washing her off and my OH which fence it was I had jumped the wrong part of and was therefore Eliminated for! Coming through the sunken road, I was so busy looking at the last fence that I turned and jumped out the PN step, I hadn't even realised to be able to turn back and jump the right bit!

So felt mega pants after that! However I have a list of positives now to stop me for being such a miserable whinge bag...
- I am started to feel like I can actually ride my horse
- The Dressage was a definite improvement
- The Show Jumping was HUGELY improved and was clear!
- Mally will stop if she is wrong. I was worried she was so bold she would always jump and get herself in trouble, but now I know she can stop (these were her first ever stops)
- The green moments were perfectly justified, she is only 5 and only been broken since feb, but she felt like she grew in confidence by the end and she doesn't know we jumped the wrong bit!
- The fences she stopped at she jumped brilliantly the second time, so it didn't rattle her too much and next time I can trust her steering more and kick on.
- First BE90 was technically completed (I rode through the finish flags, even if i did get E'd) so on to the next one where I will jump all the right fences in the right order and I WILL kick!

Recieved my CD of photos from the wonderful Bill Parrott, who always manages to get a snap of the jump you want a picture of! But they are such good quality my computer is taking a lifetime to upload them, so you'll just have to wait!

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