So the last time Fleur was out competing was back at Pontispool in May. She had a bit of quiet time whilst her heel healed then I just hadn’t had chance to get her out competing for one reason or another so off we went to Cricklade Show on Monday.
She can sometimes be a bit stuffy loading on the way to an event in so much as she has no qualms with actually going anywhere but just stands at the bottom until she decides it is time to load. Because of this the week before we had loading practice playing who gets bored first, literally I stand on the ramp and let her make up her own mind of when she was going to load my only condition is she is always facing the ramp and paying attention to me/the lorry and not whatever else may be in the area. Ultimately she is not a horse you can force to do anything so you can only get her to do something by presenting it as the easiest option in a normal stressful way.
Thankfully I was armed with my mobile and a full battery and no where to go so I was in no rush. Just as well really as the first day it took an hour until she walked fully in of her own accord (a bit of half up and down etc in that time before!), the second day 40 minutes. By the third day she realised she wasn’t going to win so thought for about 5 seconds then walked straight in RESULT!! Fourth day not even a hesitation she walked straight in no fuss at all. Come Monday I gave extra time to load just in case but again walked straight in every so often over the next few weeks will practice but hopefully that has put paid to the recent bout of loading stubborness. 😉
I haven’t been to Cricklade show before but I have been told it is a good show and after asking got an invite to the puissance. We arrived in plenty of time to see a really busy country show with driving ponies, showing, jumping and dressage for the horses, dog shows and agility, numerous tradestands and a funfair including a rather loud mini rollarcoaster next to the attractions arena where the puissance was to be held.
The puissance was our first class and before it started all the competitors paraded around the ring, now this was rather exciting as there were several hundred spectators so we passaged the majority of the way round. We then started one at a time having our go at the triplebar then the big wall. The first round is always the worst for me in these classes which wasn’t helped by my back support deciding to come undone just before I was due to start. quickly passed it to the photographer in the middle of the ring (thank you!) before jumping clear. PHEW first round over. This was repeated round after round with Fleur feeling rather fabulous. In about the 4th or 5th round the fences stood at 1m35 at an educated guess. She flew over the triple bar but coming into the wall I could only see a long forward stride which is not what you want into a puissance wall. End result she jumped flat and just tipped out a block behind. I was a bit gutted as we had jumped 1m45 at home in the week but it was my fault for putting her on that stride and then over riding her. The field was exceptionally strong with 7 competitors clearing that height although all but two faulted in the next round. In the final round only one jumped clear that being Max Warburton a very worthy winner.
We then had a short break before getting our turn in the topscore class, I won’t lie I asked a few impossible questions and although she said yes to one she rightly said no to another but we still nipped round gaining enough points to finish a very creditable 7th out of approx 30 starters.
Last was the local riders grandprix. Now I won’t lie the rules were a bit confusing and it didn’t follow the format of a standard GP that I was used to from my BS days. The first round was 11 fences (14 jumping efforts) at 1m from which there were about 10 clears of which we were one YAY! The second round the top 20 were invited back and jumped the same course again this time set at 1m10. By this point Fleur was really rather tired as it was a very long course but she pulled up her socks and jumped another clear to be one of only 4 or 5 on a double clear. At this point it really deviated from what I know of a grandprix and the top 10 combinations were invited back again to a jump off against the clock jumping the double clears first. Fleur by this time was in hindsight too tired but popped a warm up fence nicely and so went to give it a try and she was jumping well considering up until the treble one before the end, this treble was a serious athletic jumping effort being on short one stride distances running down hill with a high crossed upright going in which was backing everything off and she simply said no and so I retired. She wasn’t being naughty she was tired and again in hindsight I shouldn’t have done the jumpoff (and probably not the topscore at all!). I won’t lie it was frustrating as we were in a great position up to there but even being fit I had asked an awful lot of her that day. Because the scores over the three rounds were added together and we were the only combination in the final jump off not to complete we finished 10th. There was actually only 2 triple clears in the end. We came away with three huge rosettes that day and I am safe in the knowledge that my pony is pinging and enjoying herself I just needed to be more realistic in what I ask of her.
She had a very well deserved couple of days off work and hacked out thankfully no worse for wear on Thursday. I thought she may have been tired but no she even demanded a canter! I had intended to enter Munstead but work was ultra busy today and I couldn’t enter before it balloted at midday so that was a bit of a fail on my front for leaving it so late. I also didn’t enter Gatcombe having not been able to find a suitable prep run so we won’t be going there. Might see if we can get on the waitlist for Munstead if not I would hope to do Daunstey, Larkhill and Aldon although I will need to speak nicely to the husband as he will be home by then, infact in under a months time and I want to spend some quality time with him. It’s hard to believe he has done 6 months already now although he would disagree and say it feels far longer but as he is working 6.5-7 day weeks (they get a half day on Sunday if lucky!) it is very much like groundhog day for him whilst I have had ponies and everything else to keep me busy.
I’m now hugely looking forward to Burghley next week and Blenheim the week after where I will be reporting for e-Venting and of course taking my camera to snap away. Blenheim is a personal favourite event for me with the high jump class being a particular highlight. The last few years Laura Collett has thrilled the crowds removing her saddle to jump up to 1m80 without a saddle in perfect style, it’s great to see her back competing (and winning!) and hopefully she will be back yet again this year at Blenheim to put the majority to shame!