A Super Weekend of Stiff Competition
Power in Abundance
Scope to Burn Was Required
The severe snowfall and the extreme cold weather took its toll on competition through the month of March, and due to hard morning and day time frosts it was hard to exercise the Horses. However, this last weekend we returned to competition, we were apprehensive, not knowing how the Horses would react being back in competition after the lack of work.
Friday was a write-off, a car crash, if I am being honest, they were all rusty, sluggish and just not getting off the ground in a way we would want them. To think they have not been competing, even not being worked that much, it was to be expected that this would happen. With Friday out of the way, it meant we could concentrate on the next couple of days, getting them prepared as best we could.
Saturday-13th-April morning, we decided to enter the three younger Horses, Doug, Daphne and Kate in a 1.20metres open class as a warm up, so as to get them firing on all cylinders, for the bigger events later that day. The warm up went as planned, Doug and Daphne got one fence down each, incurring four faults, Kate went clear, unfortunately she got two obstacles down in the jump-off, incurring eight faults. On the whole we were happy, to think they have been off for about three weeks or more, not just being off competing, they couldn't be worked at home either, due to hard frosts. After lunch that day we had a warm-up class for Kevin and Harvey, this being a 1.25 metre open, ideal to just get them back in the groove of performing. However, they performed really well, although a small open, we were still proud of them, as in the jump-off they both flew around the track, with Kevin getting fourth, and Harvey third, we were over the moon. Doug and Daphne were up next in their second class of the day, a 1.30 metre Grade "C" competition, which qualifies for the Championship, held at "The Royal Windsor International Show" being held in three weeks, between the 8th and 12th-May-2013. So, everything to go for, and that is what we did, first of all a clear round was the main priority, and not to disappoint, two clear rounds were achieved, and they were beginning to pop off the ground, getting better by the round. As not to get over-confident, we had stiff opposition in this class there were big names here, with quality animals, that were competing internationally with twice the experience of ours. So, the chips were really down, and if they were firing on six cylinders earlier, in this class, they had to fire on twelve cylinders, and to be fair they did, especially Daphne. This class was a drawn order, she was twelfth to go and she jumped out of her skin, ballooning every single fence and went clear, and I was chuffed to bits. Doug was drawn 28th to go, plenty of time to get him warmed up and ready to go. Sadly though, Doug slipped as we went around the corner, approaching the triple combination. He then panicked a bit and skipped out at the first element, a refusal incurring faults, that meant he would not be going any further, and I really felt gutted for Doug, as he had jumped fantastic, apart from that one incident.
The jump-off, technical and big, being super tough, but the reward at the end was worth it, even more so for us, with Daphne being only six years old. Unfortunately, we were drawn first to go, a decision had to be made, go for it in a fast time, or play it safe and try to go clear. We went for the second option, a steady clear, and true to form she jumped spectacularly well and went clear. However, it was only good enough for 4th place, outside the top three, meaning no qualification this time. To finish off Saturday we had a Grades A and B open jumping class for Kate, Kevin and Harvey, this wasn't a difficult track, just a straight forward 1.40 metre class a good chance to get more winnings to take home. Kate and Kevin went clear, Harvey however, knocked two obstacles down, getting eight faults. The jump-off was fast, in fact extremely fast, we had our work cut-out to get amongst the top placings. In the end we ended up in 5th and 8th, and to think how much work we had given the Horses before this show, 5th and 8th, was quite good.
Ballooning Every Fence
Performing at The Highest Level
Sunday-14th-April was an early start as we had a 1.25 metre open first thing, and we had three entered, we were all up 5.30am, the Horses fed and groomed and ready for the off by 7.30am. Declarations had to done by 8am with jumping starting at 8.30am, as indoors you have one arena, so each class has to start on time, so as to make sure there is time to complete all the events within the day. Harvey and Kevin were going first with ten Horses between them, and Kate was declared towards the end of the class, unfortunately for us only Kevin went clear. Ten went clear and in the jump-off Kevin was drawn seventh to go, a good position to go for the win. Kevin simply flew round, posting a fantastic quick time of clear in 54 secs. This took the lead, however, there was three left to go, but Kevin had gone so quick, no-one came close, we were the victors, and I was truly, really chuffed to bits. To think they had been off for three weeks, this result was really something to be proud of, though it was only a small 1.25 metre open. Next up was a Grade B and C class, Kate was jumping again, along with Doug and Daphne, and since they had been going reasonably well up to then, we were quietly confident. And we were right too, as Doug won the class, with a superb double clear round, the only Horse that actually managed, going clear over the two rounds. We were very happy with the win, even though Daphne and Kate faulted, with Daphne incurring heavy faults, twenty faults in-fact. Later that day was our, final class of the show, a Grade A open for Harvey and Kevin. This class was the biggest of the show, with the fences standing 1.55metres and 1.60metres, a true test for Horse and rider. We got off to a flying start, with Harvey jumping a stupendous round, the best he has been jumping for a very long time. Down the centre of the arena, on a diagonal angle was a square oxer, (Square spread Fence) four strides to a truly enormous triple bar fence, back pole on this was 1.60metres high(5foot 3inches) with a 2metres spread(6 foot 6inches wide), it was huge. Harvey jumped it, truthfully ballooning it with a foot to spare, and the feeling on his back, was just staggering he was floating over the fences, all I did was make sure his approach was bang on, and he met the fences at the correct stride. Otherwise he was just murdering the fences every single one, jumping better the further he went around the track, he was clear and that was the main thing. Kevin jumped great too, just scraping the back pole on the triple bar ending up with four faults, wasn't to bad as all of them had performed admirably all weekend. Now we had to get ready for the jump-off with Harvey, there were five clear rounds to jump-off against the clock, the track was set, shortened with two sharp turns included, to add drama and excitement. We were drawn fourth to go, a good position with just one after us, of the three going before us, two went clear in the jump-off, we felt fairly confident and fancied our chances of a good result. We decided to go for it, not go manic, just quick enough to beat the two that went clear, and hopefully beat the one Horse going after us, and, it worked out in our favour. Harvey jumped the best he has jumped for a while, a spell-bounding round, especially from my perspective, being two seconds quicker than the two clears, with just one to go we had everything crossed. Sadly though, we had to settle for second, the last to go jumped clear 0.25 secs faster than us, however, we were over the moon, not just for this class, but, for the whole weekend.
Initially, we came on the off chance, the Horses had been off due to the weather, we thought they would be rusty, sluggish, which they were on Friday but, they just kept getting better and better and made us proud. That is Horses, when you least expect it they will just blow you away, always exciting you, surprising you (in a good way), always giving their best, and being faithful. Now that the weather has improved we can prepare for our next event, which is coming up this coming weekend. We need to get as much mileage as we can over the next couple of weeks, in preparation for The Royal Windsor International Horse Show in May. As there, the competition will be truly meteoric, not just National competitors, but top international Horses and Riders, we have to be right on top of our game. Thanks for reading, Until Next Time.