Gatcombe Playing With The Big Boys

Playing With The Big Boys –

The amazing 'Mary King' indoor arena at Nottingham Trent Uni

The amazing ‘Mary King’ indoor arena at Nottingham Trent Uni

The last week or so has been very busy for Siren and I, including a lesson with Andrew Fletcher, a very eye opening saddle fitting and a little competition to finish the week. I was quite nervous about going for my lesson with Andrew Fletcher. I had been recommended him by a friend and had very high hopes, and I was not disappointed. He immediately picked up that Siren blocks through his right shoulder, so we spent most of the lesson doing left shoulder in, but with right neck flexion. He found this extremely hard but after most of the lesson he was getting the idea! It improved his canter almost immediately. I had booked 2 lessons as we had a fair journey to get there, but it was decided we had done enough so packed up and headed home!

Spot Basil!!

Spot Basil!!

We then headed to Craven Country Ride for a good gallop up a few very steep hills. We went with Sirens pal Basil, who doesn’t have the same ‘need for speed’ attitude!

Then on Friday we set off down to Gatcombe for the British Open. We set off super early as we had arranged to stop at The National Saddle Centre for a saddle fitting and discussion about them potentially supporting Siren and I.

Having a 'moment' whilst having his saddle fitted

Having a ‘moment’ whilst having his saddle fitted

I was amazed by Jo’s (saddle fitter extraordinaire) eye for detail! I was on, off, on, off. Different pads, different girths, Siren didn’t know what was going on!! Jo picked up that I don’t use my right leg as much, and queried whether I had injured it in the past. (I previously had surgery on my right ankle to repair what damage I did whilst playing the highly dangerous game of ….netball!) To correct my ‘wonkiness’ Jo has placed pads under certain areas under my saddle and recommended I go see a Biomechanics specialist over winter to try sort it out!! I came away with a Fairfax Gareth Hughes saddle and girth, which will get some getting used to but am excited about getting to use it. I also treated Siren to a new bridle – seeing as though his used to be his mums!! I am looking forwards to working with Jo in the future and highly recommend her – she’s certainly opened my eyes!

_Q9A5567Onto Gatcombe – to sum it up, he was brilliant, I really can’t fault him. Yes, his dressage is still off the grade, but we gained 8% on our Bramham test and got some lovely comments. Showjumping was big and very busy – but I really can’t complain about him! Just the one down – a downhill green oxer which Siren wanted to go long and I kept hold and buried him in at the bottom of it – maybe he does know best after all!!
Cross country was a bit of a worry as I wasn’t happy with the ground. Siren isn’t built for hard ground and is much happier in a bog!! After chatting with a few other competitors I decided to run him, just slowly! We had a slightly dodgy jump over fence 13 where he misjudged it and I don’t think he realised how wide it was! Except that he was perfect – straight, honest and most importantly finished well and full of running. We finished 16th out of 45 starters, which would have been better without the bucket load of time faults.

Not a bad place to compete!

Not a bad place to compete!

This weekend we have another dressage lesson and then hopefully will get over to Craven Country ride again to get galloping up the hills.
In the meantime I will be watching the course preview over and over for Burghley, and most likely worrying!! It’s all getting real now, even had a press officer from Burghley ringing me…. How bizarre!!

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