Having missed competing in March it was good to finally get out competing during April – not without its challenges, but we seemed to have picked some good ones that managed to run with just loosing Burnham Market CIC** with The Partner and Sapey Novice with V.I.P Vino to the weather.
Vinnie was feeling the best he has felt – and having not competed for a while due to injury I weirdly felt no pressure considering neither of us had competed at this level before. It was a big ask to go straight in to an advanced competition and there aren’t many horses you can do that with – it wasn’t our first choice but Lincoln had been cancelled and sometimes you gotta do what you’ve gotta do!!! The calculated decision paid off with a fresh dressage and double clear, Vinnie gave me the most amazing run and made it feel like child’s play.
The weekend was made easier by having great friends and family who had come over to support which always creates a lot of banter and distraction from getting nervous. It’s always great to share these competitions with everyone.
When dressage warm ups don’t go to plan – sometimes you have to stop trying to be correct in everything you are doing and just ride. This happened with The Partner who just didn’t want to play at his first event and I couldn’t get him to relax through correct working – we were heading for a disastrous test and even contemplated withdrawing. However, I managed to rescue the situation at the 11th hour and somehow managed to get a ½ decent test. Never give up. Sadly that is all we did as the rest of his competition was abandoned.
Larkhill – Horse swop
The Partner got his first full run at Larkhill having done a horse swop with V.I.P. Vino, so that he could have a run before Belton CIC**. It wasn’t our finest performance and was actually quite frustrating as the work at home has been going well, but he was very tense and seemed a bit anxious – this reflected in his dressage and he also had an unusual pole show jumping. I schooled him round the cross country very slowly, where apart from the first few fences he jumped very nicely and was so straight and relaxed – it is what he loves. Larkhill did a fabulous job to be the only competition running that weekend and I am sure everyone is grateful for that – I certainly am.
Belton International Horse Trials
Over all I was very happy with how The Partner and V.I.P Vinnie performed at Belton. It was a step up for Vinnie and the first CIC** of the year for The Partner having finished last season competing in one at the 7 year old champs. The Partner performed a very good dressage for him and was an improvement on his test at Burnham Market a couple of weeks before – he was a completely different horse than at Larkhill,- Belton he was relaxed and happy – don’t know if there was something in the air at Larkhill – he was the same there last year – strange!!! The Partner then had a fantastic double clear – he felt so straight and balanced over the cross country and he loved the open forward riding course. He has become so much more balanced in this phase compared to the end of last season – he has worked well since he came back into work and we go to the gallops once a week – I really think this has made a huge difference to him and he feels amazing for this level. He just needs to relax even more in the dressage and then we will be up there with the best of them.
V.I.P Vinnie did a very good test – his first CIC***. He scored a credible 32.9 – with the leading score being 25.9 for William Fox-Pitt and his 4* horse Bay my Hero. – Vinnie’s test had a few areas that need tidying up so I know we can be in the 20’s with a bit more work and test practice.
His Show jumping was clear and was fairly early on he tapped a few but not hard enough to come down – at the end of the day that is what matters – it was the biggest track he has jumped and if I can relax a little more in my chest and shoulders then he will jump even better as he will then be able to work over his back more easily.
Unfortunately I learnt a lesson the hard way. I didn’t ride the basic elements of jumping an up right with a drop into a hollow – how many times have I been taught about Coffin canters – it is such a basic tool in the box and combined with shaving my turn I really stuffed up. Not the right thing to do in your first 3* competition and trying to get qualifications for later in the season. So due to my mistake we paid the price and had to walk back to the lorry after 11 fences. Luckily Vinnie and I were unharmed except bruised pride on my part and Vinnie being totally hacked off that he couldn’t finish his favourite discipline. He had been mega until that point and was really enjoying himself – we have never parted company before on XC so he looked really bemused when he realised I wasn’t with him. Unfortunately, this has a knock on effect to our spring/summer plans as we were trying to qualify for Bramham U25 CCI*** – there is now not enough time to qualify so we have to replan our season with different goals. We’ll try again at Chatsworth and Houghton.!!
An early start – leaving the yard at 4am so up at 2.30am so that Vino could eat his food well ahead of travelling. Mum was driving so I managed to catch a couple of hours sleep on the way down.
V.I.P. Vino competing in his first Novice and first competition in a while. He certainly did not disgrace himself – in fact just the opposite. He behaved very well for him and was so much more relaxed than in the past at competitions and seemed to really try hard. Despite what felt like a very average test there are some obvious improvements to be made that will make his score in the 20’s rather than low 30’s. Show Jumping I was very surprised to have gone clear – this is his weakest phase as he tends to throw himself over the fences rather than basculing and using himself correctly. Not always the prettiest to watch but a clear is a clear!!! Cross Country he was a touch reluctant out of the box but once over the 2nd fence he was away and enjoyed himself. Not a foot perfect round but a good run to build on for the rest of the season Overall very pleased with him and looking forward to Moreton Morrell.
Vino had to be on top form for a little photo shoot from the talented Sarah Farnsworth – she took some photos at Bicton last year and we have used them constantly for social media and advertising so it will be great to have some more in the bank. Her photos really are good so get in touch with her if you need some taking – www.sarahfarnsworth.co.uk
It was great to be welcomed by warmth and sunshine and the ground was in great condition. Helen Wes
t and her team did a fantastic job of running a cracking competition and fitting so many in with their huge entry – Thank you.
The horses have loved being back out in the paddocks with the sun on their back – it makes us all feel so much brighter the horses included!! V.I.P. Vino seems to be very good at jumping from paddock to paddock to find the best grass – once he has found it he is quite settled – even if we then put him in the best paddock he will decide another one will be better on a different day – we never quite know where we will find him!!
For various reasons there has been a bit of a delay in the website going live but Im excited to say its now live -we are running a competition to join me for a day out eventing. Lindsey, who is working with us on this came and spent a day taking photos around the yard seeing how we operate.
Trial and Error
We had a lovely stamp of a horse in for training and assessment with a possible view of me having the ride. The horse has already competed and had plenty of experience but sadly having XC schooled him several times I really felt that he didn’t want to do it. He lacked confidence and dropped behind the leg a lot, which isn’t ideal coming into a fence!!! So sadly he has gone home for a quieter life but at least he will be happy.
Training is constant, whether it be at home, the gallops, XC or specific training with my coach John Bowen – we have worked together for many years and its great to have him down to the yard once a month for a full day of training and development – I am looking forward to the next one.
We also have had saddles re-checked – we do this every 3 months automatically and in between if needed. I like to do this in April as the horses have been in full work for sometime and wil have changed shape quite a lot since their january check.
Great Support – we all need support and these are some of mine.
It always brightens up the day when you get a delivery from a sponsor – some very smart embroidered rugs for the horses arrived from Falpro – they really are super smart, fit the horses well – keep an eye out for them at competitions. www.falpro.com
HRP Equestrian Wing Saddle Pads
I am working with HRP Equestrian and have been using their Wing saddle pads this season. The horses are definitely benefiting from their “no pressure behind the saddle over the lumbar spinous area” – their jumping is much improved as the pads allow complete freedom behind the saddle and no pressure under the saddle either. They really are a fantastic invention and well worth having. www.HRPEquestrian.com
Thanks to these innovative designed stirrups I can report that they really do the job. Not only do they help my balance but when you have an unplanned dismount – like mine at Belton- their release mechanism is invaluable. No chance of your feet being caught in the stirrup and you being dragged along, which you hear about. www.safe-riding.it
You can follow my journey via my website www.willrawlin.com, @willrawlin on Instagram, @WBREventing on twitter and @willrawlingeventing on Facebook. I look forward to telling you more throughout the season as I chase my goals, and keep you up to date on the rollercoaster as a professional event rider.