He had a last minute XC schooling session (again with Song as trusty lead horse) just to make sure he was all good with water and ditches. He went straight in to the two water complexes building up to steps in and out and jumps before and after. We continued on until we met 3 small steps up – far too much for a tiny racehorse brain! We had a look, a sniff, a snort all with the same outcome of “If you think I’m going up there mum”!! Song was called in but this still only got us up the first step, neither going forward or backwards until he saw a gap around steps 2 and 3, it would have been a good idea only if there was enough room for me as well. After recovering from being dragged under a tree we tried again and managed step one and two and round three. Take 3, we just about managed all three. Even though he had done it once, I like to finish on a good note of having jumped it well and confidently, this time he popped up sweetly, still green but much better so I left it at that. He went on to jump some more new jumps at around 70cm including a trakhener, a coffin (minus the ditch), and a big step down to a large log. Back though the water and off home we went, quite pleased with our last outing and hoping he would raise his game on the day!
Then came the fear factor at home! I’m sure if Beamish was a person he would be a self-confessed wimp so I was trying to make some jumps that were as scary as possible to try and help this, they included a duvet over a rail, some brightly coloured trugs, some bright yellow 1 ton builders’ bags over poles and a fake ditch made with some black plastic. Well he has either been having me on or he is finally growing up. Straight over the bags first time. To be honest I was rather disappointed as it took me quite a bit of time to think them all up, find the materials and then to build them. But if it serves the purpose and he’s becoming less spooky I’m fine with that!
Then came the big day – our first one day event at Sapey, run by the pony club area 10 as their area qualifier which included non-qualifying classes as well. We had walked the course the night before as I was working on the Saturday morning and had very kindly been given late times by the organisers. We arrived and he was surprisingly calm, stood in the lorry while we went to get numbers and check the layout. Back to the lorry to tack up and put some stud in his front shoes to give him a bit more grip as he’s been slipping a little, I only used very small studs as he’s never had anything like that in before and I didn’t want him to feel like his feet were too different from normal! He warmed up lovely, we did lots of left canter strikes offs and they are becoming better and better with a success rate of about 9/10 now – practise makes permanent as I have been told! So after a brief warm up we were in – trotted round the arena had a look at the tree and photographer who were near our arena and beep we were off. Straight centre line, nice turn, good change of rein and this is how it carried on throughout. I’m not sure what he was thinking but he was definitely in the zone and it was one of the most pleasant and obedient tests I have ridden.
Quick change and on to the show jumping, watched the course and it looked ok, a few fillers and twist and turns but all do-able! Jumped a few cross poles, an upright, an oxer with a cross in front and then a square oxer and in we went in as he was jumping well and I didn’t want to overdo it on the ground. I trotted him past the gate fence as he hadn’t seen one before but he was more interested and spooking at the filler on the floor. He jumped round better than I could have imagined (I was thinking if I got over a couple that would have been an achievement!) to jump clear and over everything first time and on a good shot. I was over the moon, his first competitive show jumping outing had ended in elimination and the 2nd he had just jumped clear round an 85cm course.
Now the XC, I hadn’t even thought we would be getting this far at the beginning of the day so once again popped a few warm up fences and then headed off with the aim of getting from one fence to another and see how far we could get. We went in to the box and off out to the first, he had a little look so leg on and over, another look at 2 as it was in a hedge line but squeeze and over and this was the case for about the first 6 and then he started to feel a lot more confident and take things on for himself. He was a pleasure to ride and I just sat back got him to the fence and over he went. It was such great fun to ride and to think that all the hard work had been worth it! He finished full of running and felt like he had really enjoyed himself.
When we had washed him down, unstudded and put him back on the lorry we went to look at the scores to see how we had done. Well I couldn’t quite believe we had got a 25 for our dressage, which was 4.2 points ahead of the next person and in the lead and coupled with a double clear we couldn’t be beaten. Eek Beamish had just won his first ever ODE!!
I am over the moon with my very special ex race horse so onwards and hopefully upwards to our first affiliated BE event back at Sapey at the end of the month.
All photos taken by Beth’s mum Amanda Eckley.