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Last saturday saw us head to Swalcliffe – one of my favourite events and one of our more local ones too (or a least, more local than Isleham!). I lucked out for the second time and had very sociable times – Tally even got to enjoy a few hours out in the field which is always a big bonus.
I’d been round Swalcliffe twice before – in 2013 for RC Champs when it was seriously hilly, and in 2014 when it was moved to the top field because of the wet weather. The course was mainly on the top field again, with a hilly loop incorporated for a good bit of variety. All of the levels had beautifully presented courses – full up with some good questions. I was most worried about 14/15 – an imposing haycart two strides away from an angled skinny – time to get committed and kick on!!
After being disappointed with my dressage score at Isleham when Tally dropped off my leg, I spoke to both my instructors and decided on a warm up strategy to combat this. Transitions were the name of the game, and in 20 minutes we must’ve done about 20,000, never settling in the same pace/direction for long! I was determined and fortunately it paid off in the arena with a much improved test. In hindsight looking at the video I could’ve taken a bit off the pace, but I just needed to keep him forward – hopefully I can refine it a bit next time!
Feeling positive after achieving what I set out to in the first phase, I carried this forward for the rest of the afternoon, focusing on what I could control and use each warm up to create what I needed to, not just going through the motions waiting for my turn.
Tally jumped a lovely show jumping round, and I managed not to stuff up after hearing my dressage score (28!). My jumping lesson this week had concentrated on really releasing with my hands in the air to allow Tally to stretch over his back and bring his shoulders up. It was a bit of a light-bulb moment so I was keen to try and recreate this in the ring – some of the pictures are a bit comical but it definitely worked so I’ll continue!
By this time the temperature had really dropped and waiting to go XC felt like it took an age. Tally started off a bit spooky – how dare they place bright red Warmblood-eating flowers under fence 2?! So I had to remind him to get on with it, but by riding more for the time it also meant I was more positive and Tally responded really well. We got round to the haycart and thankfully the line felt much easier when ridden on a horse!!
I was on cloud 9 to finish on a 28 double clear. We’d also managed to speed up quite considerably for just 3.2 penalties, where very few made the time. We finished up in 7th place which is our first placing at BE100, and top it all off I was able to celebrate with pizza – top marks to Swalcliffe for the fantastic caterers (as well as everything else about the event!).
Before I headed off to the other side of the world on Honeymoon, I made a very important entry – they close while I’m away so I need to make sure we have our place, then Tally just needs to stay in one piece without me – fingers crossed!!!
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