It feels now as if we are getting stuck into the season. All of the horses that competed at Bicton have had a previous run and are feeling back into the swing of it.
We took four horses for the Friday classes, three for the Novice, and Duke of Axbridge for the Intermediate.
As always, the show jumping was up to height, and very technical, but jumping in the surfaced arena guaranteed the horses the best footing to give it their best. The cross country course was bold and strong, and with the steep undulations, would need some sensible and balanced riding. It was definitely going to be an educational day for the Novice horses!
We kicked off the day with Kelsons Limited Edition. He was on first of the day in the dressage arena. He performed a really pleasing test that we all thought showed good improvement from his last event. Whether the judges were just warming up, or wiping the sleep out of their eyes, he received a pretty average mark for his efforts. This was a definite case where you have to be philosophical about your marks and not get to disheartened, I’m sure we are on the right track with him in this sphere.
He show jumped really well, just having a careless 4 faults when he thought he knew a little better than me what he was doing. Instead of arguing with him, I felt it was better he make his own mistake, and after hitting that one fence, WOW, he didn’t want to touch another. Lesson well learned!
He tackled the cross country like a pro! The only thing I could fault this horse for, is that he is sometimes over eager, but what a great fault to have. Its a pleasure to ride such a positive forward thinking genuine horse!!!
Midnight Ash improved in the dressage from Portman posting a good score for him. He struggled a bit with the hard ground in the dressage arena but rode an accurate test.
He again show jumped really well showing what a straight and consistent horse he is to ride in this phase.
Every time he goes cross country its hard for me to believe that its only his second season. He is so balanced in his gallop, he’s exceptionally adjustable and happy to go on a forward or collected stride to a fence. It’s like he was already pre programmed to do the job. He expressed true class, just cantering around the course as if we were schooling. I’m very excited to jump some bigger tracks on him, he gives me such a good feel!
The Night Traveller was my final ride in the Novice class. He performed a very accurate and rhythmical test, once again gaining a super sub 30 score. He’s only a small horse, but he is showing more and more presence with each test he does.
Without trying to curse this horse, I’ve never had a rail down in the show jumping on him, and once again, he delivered another clinical clear round.
With the same plan in mind as at his last run, we set off on the cross country nice and steady. Taking all the fences in his stride I thought we were on for another good round. It was going great until he came down the steep hill to a set of steps and then to a narrow triple brush. He showed his inexperience, and ran a little on to his fore hand down the slope and didn’t quite lock on well enough to the triple brush, and glanced off to the left. I circled and immediately popped the fence and away we went. Not letting this rock us, I continued in a steady rhythm, having a lovely ride home. It would be easy to get very disappointed, but I think this was a genuine lack of concentration on the horses part which I think he will learn from. We are all competitive, but we must remember that these are inexperienced horses that are still learning. We will take this mistake on board and train hard so to try and avoid it happening again!
It was a tough Intermediate class that the Duke of Axbridge was contesting in. He performed a good accurate test with only one little mistake, where he went walk to canter instead of trot near the end of the test. I could forgive him this considering he had done several walk to canters throughout the test, and this mistake was only through enthusiasm.
The show jumping had so many changes of direction, and turn backs, it was hard to remember where you were going, let alone ride! With this technical and up to height track it was no surprize that there wasn’t many clears. Fence one was a bright white, spooky oxer which claimed several victims before riders really got going. The Duke of Axbridge jumped extremely accurately, to be one of only three faultless rounds. This left us in a good position going into the cross country.
The cross country course asked many questions, from tricky turns to skinny fences to a big and bold double of corners, finished with a decent rail with a maximum drop into the final water. It was going to take a bit of jumping!
Duke felt great as he left the start box. He felt very positive, on the aids, and listening to me attentively. He took all of the questions laid ahead of him in in his stride. He showed all of his experience and flew around course having me smiling all of the way around.
Duke was handsomely rewarded with a 3rd rosette for his efforts.
It was a busy, but successful day. Thanks to all of the team, everything ran smoothly, even when running times were very close. I’ve a huge thanks to the professionalism of all involved from the 4am start to 8pm home time. Thanks to the team of spectators that came to support, it makes the day ever the more enjoyable.
The following day, I was let loose on my own with Spypark Ferro XS to contest the BE100. I’m fortunate that his owner, Sarah Boon, is not afraid to help out! She baby sat me throughout the day and made sure we were everywhere we were supposed to be, on time.
The weather was not as kind and it drizzled with rain all afternoon making it all a little less pleasant. The ground was getting a bit greasy on top, so our stud selection was crucial in keeping enough grip.
Spypark Ferro did a super test, showing improved suppleness and connection. He had a small moment of distraction as a horse decided to neigh loudly next to his arena during his walk movements, but putting that aside, I couldn’t of asked more of him at this time. He was awarded an amazing 22.3 score for this, so the pressure was on!
Bicton has a beautiful set of very colourful fences, great for spectators, but daunting for a young horse. Spypark entered the arena with ALOT of presence, I wonder how much better the dressage mark would have been if he’d trotted around like that in his test! As soon as we jumped the first fence, he knew exactly what was expected of him, and he jumped around giving everything a foot to spare. Onwards and forwards to the cross country!
As I received my last bit banter with Keith, the cross country starter, for the weekend, we set off! Spypark Ferro was very enthusiastic for the first third of the course, I’m sure he thought it was his final preparation run before Badminton! He then settled and gave me a super ride. He is a 17.1hh young horse, and he coped really well with the undulations of the course that Bicton had to offer. He was aware of his balance going down the hills, always trying to balance himself, which I think shows great awareness. This will come in handy as he progresses up the grades and the difficulty of the fences require a composed and thoughtful horse. I can’t help but always think of the future!
He bagged a super double clear, finishing on his dressage score which earned Team Bragg its first WIN of the season!!
So proud of him, and really pleased for Sarah.
This was a great way to round of our competition weekend at Bicton. A huge thanks to the team at Bicton Arena, they are always so welcoming, and from a riders perspective, exceptionally thoughtful and helpful. Well done guys for another fantastic show!!