Mattingley is one of my favourite events and it ALWAYS seems to be a sunny one which is a real bonus. We arrived and found ourselves a nice shady spot under a tree to park in, by the time we returned from getting my number 2 more people had decided that was a good idea and we had started to create our own mini shady car park! With it being so hot I only allowed 30mins dressage warm up as I thought Soap would go off the boil quicker in the heat. Thankfully the organisers were being lenient and riders were allowed to do their dressage in short sleeved shirts which was a real relief as I was not relishing the prospect of putting on my tweed jacket! He did a nice test, but spooked at the entry flowers just before his first canter transition which was a shame as the spook impacted on 2 movements, and as a result we lost marks on both. I was quite pleased to see that we managed to score 32 despite Soap’s sudden fear of plastic pansies!
Next up was the SJing and it seemed to be causing problems with lots of people having No 3 which was on a slight downhill, and No 7 a white gate. I only did a few X-poles and a couple of uprights in the warm up because the ground there was much harder than the arena, and as usual someone had whacked the parallel up much higher than necessary so I put my number down and waited to go in. We went into the ring and I told myself to keep the canter, re-balance him when needed but DON’T STRANGLE HIM INTO THE FENCE! stay soft and forwards. We had a great shot to 1 and a slightly long one to 2 but he really made a great shape and powered over it, I checked him on the downhill to 3 and he stuck his head up I checked again, but managed to quickly soften and allow him forwards in the crucial last 3 strides and he jumped it nicely, then round the corner to 4 and 5 which he was fab over really powering up off the ground and giving me a great ride. Then I messed things up… I knew the next turn was the hardest on the course and I over egged it shutting down the canter and so bringing him to the jump with no power and no stride. He scraped over it but took the back rail out so hollowed and rushed forwards, and again not thinking quick enough to just sit still and soft I tried to get him back so we had the next fence too. Quick blip over we changed leg, I got back the soft and forwards feeling and he popped 7 and the double to finish on just 8 faults. I was really pleased with him he didn’t rattle anything and jumped brilliantly except for the 2 fences I strangled him into so they don’t really count because those are my 8 faults not his! There were only 12 clears in my section.
Next up XC and I was really pleased to see the ski jump back in the intro as it wasn’t in it last year. I got to the warm up and for the first time in my eventing life it was packed! There were 11 people to go before me but the ring steward was doing a fab job counting everyone down and letting us all know how many riders were before us. After our wait Soap was raring to go, and I love that feeling when you get in the start box and they are like a coiled spring! We set off over 1-4 and cleared No 5 receiving great cheers as my 2 chums were fence judging there! A little sticky over the trakhena but bold as brass through the water splash, off set double of tyres, brush then down to the ski jump. I love jumping drops and downhill fences on Soap because he is just fab at them and he flew the ski jump and galloped on round the corner and over the open ditch. Into the next water and a lovely jump out, up the bank over the tyres, down and over the log, house, then cutting inside the novice ducks, and onto the corner. The corner seemed to be causing carnage with people falling off there left right and centre, but I got on the line about 10 strides out Soap locked on and straight as a arrow over that. I fiddled an awful stride to the next jump in the shadows and he hit it, but recovered and flew on up the hill over the next open ditch to roll top, quick hop over the spotted piggy, and the final flower box then home inside the time in 5mins and 5secs.
The XC commentator did a fab job thanking all my sponsors and reading out my blog URL, and he even said he might go and check it out later! We finished on our lowest mark ever of 40 which put us 16th. If we had managed a double clear we would have been 5th and even with 1 pole SJing we would have come 8th! I was really pleased with him, the dressage was good the SJing felt brill from him, and the XC is always mega, and best of all we are knocking on the door of a placing if I can get my act together in the SJing!