In prep for Highclere BE100 we have been jumping jumping jumping, and on Sunday I found a local show to take Soap to for a couple of rounds on grass. I must have looked like a clueless eventer with my yellow tagged hat, tweed jacket, and list of daft questions which included…’Do we get a course walk?’ ‘yes of course!’ said the baffled looking steward ‘How do we know what order to go in for the JO?…’ ‘Do we have to wear our jackets?’ etc etc you get the idea (I’m a bit rusty at straight SJing) and I’m pretty sure Soap was thinking thank goodness there was none of that circles, flower pot, and white snake nonsense today too! The ground was rock hard, and slippy but the warm up had some cover so I studded up and popped a few practise fences before our class. Soap is still just in his drop snaffle and seems to be slowly getting the hang of being polite and listening to it. We went in for our round and he was fab to 1, ran on strong down the hill to 2 and by some small miracle it bounced back into its cups! phew! then turned nicely and checked himself for 3 and 4, brill down hill through a very short strided double at 5 (course was built for ponies I think!) worked his own stride out for 6, 7,and 8 (he is really beginning to pay attention and think) down hill and deep to 9 but he jumped himself clear then lovely over the wall to end, and I almost fell off with shock when the tannoy said ‘…and that’s a clear round for No 644…’
It was boiling hot so I went back to the trailer washed him down a bit and offered him a drink. He was so much better control wise in the JO waiting and listening more than the 1st round and we had just 2 down, the skinny which lots of people had, he tipped off with his back feet, and a yellow upright, but a much better jump over the downhill fence where he waited and got a good spot, and lovely basculing jump over the wall. I was still so chuffed with him as JO’s are irrelevant to us eventers, and it was his first clear round that made my day. The arena was on a slope, hard, and slippy but despite that he managed some real moments of independant thought and control which is such a huge change in attitude from the ‘tunnel visioned pole pulverizor’ I was riding at the beginning of the year. I was going to enter the next class 3’3” but Soap looked tired and the ground wasn’t good and with Highclere only a week away we called it a day, but not before quickly popping over to see my sponsors Trotters who were there with their trade stand enjoying some rare summer sun.