After time off due to a strained muscle, then brilliant but quite radical re-shoeing which made Soap ‘footy’ for over a week (cue me franticly dunking his feet in buckets of ice at every opportunity!) we ended up with just 3 days to prepare for our first ever PN level ODE! Not quite the run up to it I had planned! I spent the 3 days running through the BE Novice 111 dressage test we had to do which included counter canter, medium trot/canter, and rein back (none of these movements Soap is established in or has ever done in a test situation!) and practising some up to height SJs at home. I had very late times on Sunday which gave me the whole day to worry about the lack of prep we had done, the weather, the ground, the SJs, and anything else that popped into my head in the 9 hours before I got in the saddle!
We arrived and I quickly hopped on after a ‘stud situation’ as the new studs I had bought wouldn’t fit so had to resort to plan B. Soap warmed up very sweetly for the dressage, much better than his last test, so just hoping for a calm accurate test I went in. He was fab really soft and calm, needing to go forwards more, and not producing enough medium trot for the judge’s liking (probably because I haven’t taught him what that is yet!) but very well behaved gaining 5×7’s. He broke his second counter canter as he decided he should probably poo mid movement and he can’t manage 2 things at once, but his first one was super, and we ended with 43 which put us 15th out of 37 and I was over the moon as I thought with the test being so much harder than Intro we would be last!
Went to walk the XC and got soaked! Got to about fence 4 and the heavens opened and I was drenched. The course looked meaty compared to the Intros we have been walking all season, but not too technical so I was looking forward to it, I just had to get through the SJing! Soap warmed up super for the SJing waiting and listening and not rushing to the fence, and I didn’t fire or override once honest! The course was indoors, and had a couple of horrid turns not helped by Soap’s determination that he knows best! He popped fence 1 sweetly and then decided to bugger off! Cue me trying to get him back for 2 but too late and he had it down. Set him up again and he popped 3 and 4 very well behaved and did a lovely turn to the double at 5 but decided on the last few strides that he would snatch and had the first part down, then he tanked off again! I had to hold him into a line of 3 and he took the first part but cleared the last double, then a horrid turn to planks which came off, and over the last clear. We ended with a cricket score of 4 down and 5 time but I was beaming as the ones where he waited and listened felt fab, and the height hadn’t made him even think about stopping because he is just so genuine, if a little opinionated. Back to SJ camp for us where we will be working on control after the fences, and establishing who is in charge!
There was a brief sunny moment amidst all the showers so off we set on the XC. He popped the first 5 fences really bold, and by this point he had realised that he needed to raise his game as the jumps had got bigger! 6 was a bank with a step up on top of it and a drop off which seemed steep as it was already on a hill but he just launched himself off it bold as brass, then onto 7 and 8 which was a choice of open ditch to roll top or hanging log to ditch. We chose the latter and he didn’t miss a beat and flew it. Then onto a flower box at 9 and the owl hole at 10 clear to 11, 12 and flew the step bounce drop fence at 13. He romped home and had a great stride through the water in step out and over a roll top to finish. We had 8.8 time, but I didn’t put my foot down as we weren’t out to compete just to get round a PN track clear so mission accomplished. I was so pleased with him for tackling the tricky dressage and not losing his cool, for showing some real glimpses of control and ability in the SJ, and for being such a brave honest jumper in the XC. Off for some SJ practise at Hoplands before our next event, oh and videos from yesterday to follow!