Well I’m currently still rather 😀 and it’s now several days later which should give you a good idea of ultimately how our day went.
Our prep for Larkhill has gone somewhat awry over the last few weeks. We had entered the novice which was to be our first (discounting RC competitions) with the plan of a run at Goring before hand in the BE100. Well as you may have read from my previous blogs Fleur got mudfever, Goring didn’t run, then teeth issues meant I could only ride in a hackamore last week. Due to Larkhill having to ballot vast numbers there was going to be no chance of switching down the the BE100 so I decided to put on my brave pants and get on with it as she had jumped a fair proportion of the course last year for RC areas.
But to add to the joys Friday morning as I was setting up a small course whilst awaiting the saddler my back went. (I have ongoing issues!) I wasn’t even picking anything up at the time but OMG did it hurt. I tried to put on brave face and when the saddler came even tried to ride which lasted about 30 secs when the pain was just too much. At this point I was thinking there was no way in hell I would be able to compete today.
But then along came my knight (Osteopath!) in shining armour good friend Sandra Blampied who was visiting me and providing groom and photographer duties. After a few (rather large) acupuncture needles and some treatment later I was more mobile and I was reassured I would be riding fit come morning so we went back to the yard and were packing the lorry and plaiting at 9pm.
Saturday morning at sparrows fart o’clock I woke greatly improved but still twinging sightly but after stretching and loosening and application of tight high-waisted breeches and my back support it was feeling possible again that I may well not only get on a horse but maybe even compete, even having to defrost the lorry windscreen didn’t seem too bad a chore!
I knew the dressage was going to be the main challenge as it’s my sacroiliac joints which are the problem so the back/forwards movement of walk and canter are fine but the rising action of trot can catch. At first in the warmup I was considering myself mad but quickly realised as I forced myself to relax it actually wasn’t that bad and if I kept her in a rhythm (and therefore me in a rhythm!) It wasn’t hurting. The test was all about survival, do the right movements in the right places and hope for the best and to be fair it actually wasn’t that bad at all considering and we managed a rather respectable in the section 36 😀
So on to the Showjumping. Now this is when I discovered just how much her saddle had needed flocking as she proceeded to start jumping me out the saddle in the warmup obviously feeling a lot freer
We went in and although a bit untidy and my position slightly up the creek (but thankfully it wasn’t painful!) we were clear up until the last where I saw a shocker of a stride and then instead of letting her power up and over chucked her at it tapping out the back rail. The course was up to height and rather technical which I actually rather like so I was pleased as it’s the biggest course we’ve jumped in a while.
I think a lot of people often get a shock when they walk the showjumping at Larkhill and a few other events based locally because you don’t get a figure of eight soft showjumping course which 75% jump clear. At larkhill the slope of the ground is cleverly used and combined with a collection of dog legs, related distances and turns to make riders think and ride accordingly. Those who cut corners and didn’t balance knocked poles a plenty, those that rode intelligently jumped flowing clear rounds. Others like me inbetween were lucky! 😉 So round of applause to the course builder and add in the great work decorating the course with flowers at every fence.
So lastly to the fun bit 😀 By this point my back was actually freeing up rather nicely (one good thing is that riding does normally improve it) so a quick change and we headed down to the XC but sadly and annoyingly I forgot my head cam which I have permission from BE to use DOH sorry!
We set off and had a nice shot over 1 a large suspended log but then I saw a duffer at 2 but Fleur being quick and clever sorted us out! 3 the funky VW campers and 4 an angled roll top were soon behind us. Next we approached 5 the first question on the course a double of angled bull finches. I wasn’t really sure how Fleur would jump them i.e. whether she would try to go over the top or not! thankfully although jumping big it was sensibly big and she jumped through brilliantly.
So we galloped up the hill towards the rather meaty open corner which she came back and jumped beautifully, down the hill to the chair when again I saw a deeper stride than perhaps I should but the fence profile allowed Fleur to easily jump without squirming! Next over the rails on the brow of the hill to the step rail bounce up hill. Brought her right back to bouncy canter and really felt her use herself to ping over the rails.
Next was a gravel topped box before on to the sunken road combination of skinny rail 2 strides drop down stride step up 1 stride to skinny rail.
Now I know this sunken road well and it rides very short so I brought her right back again popped over the rails and brought her right back to almost a walk so she could pop down get the stride nicely pop up the step and then over the skinny. Apparently the commentary said she almost stopped but she didn’t consider it at all was just that If I allow her to approach drops at speed she launches which would have been quite dangerous in these circumstances. I later saw at least two combinations bounce the distance in the sunken road and it claimed a few professional scalps who then found themselves on a bad/impossible stride to the skinny out.
Anyway back to our round! Down the hill and 3/4 of the way round the course and off to the water. Although not her strong point she likes this water and the fact the hole beneath the fences lets her know she is landing on solid ground and not in the water. She bounded through 😀 Next saw a brilliant stride over the HUMONGOUS table and then another cracker over the large up to height open ditch with brush behind
Up the hill to the last combination an angled double of skinnies a log to a pallisade brush. Which although I didn’t get my ideal angle to the first she locked on to the second and over we went. Then it was over the last a wide straw table and through the finish. It was finished we were CLEAR!!!!! 😀 And despite bringing her back at several fences and not being as fit as she could be we finished with only 8 time penalties. When fitter and more confident (me not her by Saturday’s account!) at the level we can easily make up those 20 seconds.
So had it not been for my rubbish riding at the last SJ we would have got a point a real actual point, but we didn’t and I really don’t care as she proved herself more than capable at the height. My lifelong dream of riding in top hat and tails this year is now looking like it might just happen. Yes several more events and QRs needed but we are now one step closer. 😀
I wish to thank the organisers and volunteers behind Larkhill who ran yet another great event. Given the fact the event is held on Salisbury plain one of the most exposed places I have come across they still produce an atmosphere many other events lack. I took a large collection of photos of which I will post a selection on the site seperately. I have already shared them on our facebook account so please take a look. I have not shared the majority as do not feel it is right to step on the toes of the official photographers even if I don’t sell my photos. So most that I have and will upload are those that the official photographer wouldn’t normally have chance to snap including candid and the slightly (very) abstract shots. Why don’t you take a look and see if I snapped you?
I must also now offer some brilliant quotes of the day I overheard over the two days whilst competing and spectating.
“Would Lucinda Green MBE please come to the secretary’s office where we have your dog, to repeat could Lucinda Green MBE please come to the secretary’s office to collect your dog!” Just in case it wasn’t clear whom the loose dog belonged to
“That was rather good for a ‘Larkhill’ dressage test” a rider said after finishing their test referring no doubt to the rather exposed nature of the dressage arenas that often causes even the most reliable horses to become somewhat unpredictable.
“With a dressage score like that maybe it should have stayed a racehorse!” Heard over the commentary. Thankfully said horse is a work in progress who was rather over excited by the atmosphere and the owner took it in the jest intended!
“20.5 how is that even possible? How much did they pay the judge for that haha?! Are they a name? They must be a name to get a score like that! Well if she isn’t a name yet she is now!” In reference to the fantastic dressage score which Abbie Lloyd on Jack Of Diamonds finished on to win a BE90 section 7.5 penalties clear of 2nd place.
Poor Oki is feeling a bit left out this week, the beginning half of the week she had been working really rather nicely and I was feeling quietly excited at the prospect of taking her out to some low key dressage this weekend but what with my back she has now had 4 days off and although I suspect she would be absolutely fine I need to be sensible and just in case for my back’s sake will have to leave it another day as I need to rest my back. I also had to tell myself yesterday trying to get a last minute day off to enter ALW on Wednesday was equally such a bad idea. I am though able to hack gently this week (whilst strapped up!) to let my muscles recover but also keep them free as with my particular issues it is far better to partake in gentle exercise than sit and do nothing when I would just seize up but I won’t be doing any schooling most likely until after the weekend.
So plans are changing again. I have put my ultra big brave pants on and entered Bicton Novice after being balloted from Hambleden and missing out on a chance of doing Withington Manor but I definitely need to go do some more water schooling before hand to ensure we are both confident for what we might face there. I am also needing to put my organiser hat firmly on for my riding club as my first event in charge is only 2 weeks away so if you need a dressage competition in Wiltshire I can point you in the right direction 😉 I am also once again on the hunt for an ideal little first show for Oki some time soon as she deserves to be getting out and about.
And last but most certainly not least the most exciting news has to be what came through the post yesterday (see left 😉 ). There has to some perks to running this site as money is not one (we do it for the love of the sport believe it or not!) and a big perk has to be that two of us e-Venting founders will be reporting live from Badminton Horse Trials in proper official journalist capacity with the aim of updating our readers on the happenings from grass roots through to the main 4* event live each day.