First attempt was at Aston Le Walls, where despite all efforts by the gallant Nigel Taylor, the first day of competition had to be cancelled. Due to the great surfaces put in place last year, the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday classes ran. We took the Junior hordes, seven of them, to test the springs and the brakes.
Performances were on par from ‘ I have never seen dressage boards in my life’ to ‘ Why are we doing trot-walk-trot, it is for silly babies’. Show jumping was epic, mainly along the lines of we can really jump and watch our motorbike corners. Despite best efforts the xc going was deep in places, so nobody travelled at speed but we still came home with six double clears and three rosettes.
Then Tweseldown planned as the next outing was cancelled – all four days although the weather was very sunny over the weekend and I saw on Facebook that people were xc schooling there on the Sunday.
We now had Gatcombe lined up in our sights for Batty (The Little Bay Horse who grew to 16.3hh) and for The Master ( aka Frog, aka Islington ). The object was to see if Batty would do an Intermediate xc without tanking into or past a fence. Several International riders had at my behest given it a go and their comments were not complimentary. The aim for Frog was to see if he would show jump without rearing as herself was not going to pay for BE and FEI registration if we were to be eliminated before approaching a jump.
Saturday was glorious sunshine, lovely atmosphere and terrifying xc with corners on angles and loads of ‘oh I didn’t see that fence, let’s go past it’ opportunities. Batty did a reasonable but uninspiring test, a will do better next time showjumping round and a hugely encouraging clear albeit v. slow xc round. Next day was a different story; first off Frog took himself off for an inspection of the lorry park ( see past reference to loose animals and Roo Fox) then he was in an ON class and he doesn’t approve of tests that don’t allow him to show off. I do not do 15m circles, I do 8m circles; I do not do leg yield, I do half pass and so on. On to the showjumping with a stunning performance in front of a crowded collecting ring, into the arena with no spectators and the driving rain to barge through six fences, embarrassing to say the least. XC was unreal, antics outside the start box then a restarted count where he stood immaculately still for 30 seconds before leaving at the count of 2 for a charge to the first fence. Most of the round was spent discussing take off points, his decision on striding or mine, a strong hint that he felt I should just sit quietly while he got on with the job.
Next objective Bicton for the two idiots above, while we are heading to Howick and then Larkhill with the hordes. And, by the way, the lawn is improving.