Highclere BE100/Pre Novice – 2 days of highs & lows

Highclere is a local event to me and I have always wanted to do the BE100/PreNovice course there as it is a fab gallopy undulating course with the real ‘old school event’ vibe to it. In advance of Highclere because I knew it was a tough track I entered Soap for WWEC (2) BE100 and he had completed their unaff ODE over the BE100 track just a few weeks before so I thought 2 runs at BE100 height would be a good level of prep. Unfortunately WWEC (2) was cancelled due to bad weather so we focused our efforts on SJing instead, and he has come on leaps and bounds in the last few weeks (no pun intended!) so I was feeling fairly confident. On Saturday we set off for our day before dressage with a different tactic ‘45min of warming in’ and Soap pulled a lovely, attentive, soft test out of the bag to get 37, which put us 15th in our section which included some local pros like Antoinette McKeowen and Mark Corbett so I was very very pleased! We returned early on Sunday for SJ and XC and sadly didn’t get any further than the last show jump.
Whilst I was tacking up Soap suddenly went down on his front end to start rolling! He gave no indication such as pawing or circling he just dropped onto his front legs and started to tip in the beginning of a roll. I frantically shouted at him and flapped the reins that were round his neck and he stood up and just looked blankly at me like I was mad. I checked him all over and all his tack and walked him about because my first thought was colic, but he seemed fine so I got on and walked him to the warm up to see what he felt like ridden. He jumped brilliantly over the first 4 warm up fences and then suddenly went off the boil, stopped and skidded into the parallel several times. At this point I should have followed my first thoughts which were that he had a bit of a jippy tummy, I should have put slightly larger studs in the front, and changed his bit to the gag, but flustered and not together we went in as they were calling us over. The round was horrid and we had 4 down and 2 stops at the smallest upright on the course. In hindsight after fence 5 when he stopped I should have retired but I wasn’t thinking straight. He finished the round and actually made a great jump over the last but we had accrued enough penalties, time and jumping to prohibit us from going XC.
With a heavy heart, and kicking myself for not listening first to my horse, and secondly to myself I walked back to the trailer. Having had time to think on it, I know our performance was down to Soap’s upset stomach, him feeling unsafe on the going, and losing control because he was under bitted. When we got home it occurred to me that he ate a lot of the grass from the trailer park the day before which had sheep droppings in it, and I wondered if this combined with 2 days travelling might have contributed to his discomfort. He drank quite a lot when we got home, I made him a bran mash to settle his stomach, and I’m pleased to say he was 100% the next day.

It was a very disheartening day, but I re-learnt some very valuable lessons I obviously needed to be reminded of…

1)     Listen to your horse he doesn’t make stuff up for no reason!
2)     Listen to yourself you do know him better than anyone
3)     There’s always another day don’t let the atmosphere/pressure force you to make mistakes

So to rectify our SJ disaster and give us both a boost I am sending Soap to my SJ trainer Rosie Moss for a week. During the week I am going to have a few lessons and hopefully it will culminate in Rosie and/or me competing Soap under her tuition to pin point our SJ demons once and for all!

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