This weekend was right back to grassroots for us. We had two 5yr olds doing their first events, at a new venue, Millfield horse trials.
Having had a busy week cross country schooling, trying to educate the young horses as best possible, we were eager to see how they would cope with the pressures and excitement of a full blown show.
Millfield had done a great job with the cross country course. There were several questions dispersed throughout the course, including an open ditch combination, a small step combination and a nice big water jump. I was pleased to see all of the fences were inviting, which was just right for our green first timers. It should be educational, yet encouraging. So hopefully the horses should have a positive experience.
The show jumping was on a bit of a slope, which always adds an extra dimension to jumping young horses, but again, I thought the course was well built, with a beautiful set of new jumps. The warm up area was a bit small, and I think, had we had any rain, this could have become a bit of a problem. Hopefully this is something they might address before the next event.
However, there was plenty of warm up space for the dressage, and all of the arenas were on fairly flat ground. Overall, I thought Millfield had put a good show together for us all to enjoy.
My day began with our very own, Bloomfield Tiger Two. Immaculately turned out, he looked stunning trotting around in the glorious sunshine. He relaxed very quickly in the warm up, and gave me his full concentration, This is always a relief when you first go out on a baby horse, the neck strap was in place, but not needed, phew!
He trotted into the dressage competition paddock, and got a little nervous. This was the first time he has seen a field full of white boards, and I’m sure he thought he’d made friends with every horse in the warm up, as he felt he needed to let them know exactly where he was by calling several times. He performed his test accurately, and settled more and more throughout. He did get distracted at times by other horses trotting to and from their arenas, but on the whole, he performed a good test with no major tension. I feel, a couple more outings and he will learn to concentrate better and deliver a more consistent picture.
The show jumping was much the same, he warmed up well, but got a little tense entering the competition arena. This tension tightened his jump, and he clipped a few fences with his hind legs. I’m sure with more experience, his jump will relax and he will show off his amazing technique in this phase.
Onwards to the cross country, and this was a whole new experience. It was Tiger’s first time in and out of a start box, and he took it all in his stride. We were off. Apart from a couple of slightly bigger ‘green’ jumps, Tiger jumped the fences really well. He was a little dubious about travelling up and down the large mound, with the replica of Glastonbury Tor on top. At this point, I think he would rather have slipped through the exit in the string back to the lorry park, but with a little encouragement, he was convinced to continue, and we were back on track.
The aim was to complete and give him a good experience, and I feel we achieved just that. There will be great things to come from this horse, and we are pleased to announce that he will be supported by the ‘Ladies Club’ syndicate throughout the rest of this season. There should be some fun filled days ahead!!
LVS Stonehavens Quebec (Darcy) was my second ride. She is the first mare that I’ve competed for many years, so I was interested to how her temperament would be when put under pressure.
She is always a dream to handle, but I was surprised that she was so laid back on arrival, it seemed as though we had simply taken her on a trip out schooling, not just arrived at a competition. She remained like this for the rest of the day.
Darcy warmed up for the dressage as if we were at home trotting around the field. She went into her arena as cool as a cucumber and performed a lovely, rhythmical test. She is still very green, and her frame dropped a little low at times, which cost her the higher marks, but from a future prospective, she was very relaxed, and moved beautifully around the arena, remaining fully attentive at all times.
Darcy again took her show jumping round in her stride. She took no notice of the spooky fillers, and for a big young horse coped amazingly well with the slope in the arena. It is quite remarkable at how professional this horse is at such a young age. She popped around for a foot perfect clear round.
I was riding her to the cross country full of confidence as if I was sat on a horse that had been eventing for several years. She waited in the warm up patiently, warmed up perfectly and wandered to the start box without a hint of nerves or anticipation. It was pretty surreal, I’ve never been sat on such a relaxed horse within this environment. As if she had read the text book of how to tackle a one day event, we set off on the cross country and she cantered around steadily jumping everything in a settled rhythm for an immaculate clear round.
Darcy was an absolute pleasure to compete, and is clearly a natural event horse. I would love to take all of the credit for training her well, but with her relaxed temperament she made my job so straight forward. A truly class championship horse in the making. So happy to have her in our stables.
All in all, a very enjoyable day at Millfield horse trials. Both horses having had a wonderful experience are now ready to go on and contest the 5yr old classes for the rest of the season.
To find out more about Team Bragg and watch videos of Tiger, Darcy and all the other horses, be sure to check out their website www.poplars-equestrian.com