Combining training & practise pays off for 2nd!

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Someone pinch me, I think it all might be a dream! Bolly is quite possibly the most perfect little “goody 4 hooves” to ever grace this planet, and I am his No 1 Super Fan. He’s been part of the family for almost 2 years now but due to moving house, Dustry’s op, fitness levels, instructor changes and numerous saddle issues I feel like we’ve only just recently got all our ducks in a row and been able to train, practice and compete feeling like things are on the right track and that linear progress is possible.

Mummy Groom has also been feeling the benefits of “Bolly Therapy” taking the little pocket rocket on their first outing to a pleasure ride and having a ball hacking him around the Wiltshire countryside.

After 2 cracking lessons with Stephen Way for show jumping and Karen Shepherd for dressage (both at Karen’s lovely yard Pepperwood Park. Check it out if you’re looking to hire arenas and jumps it’s fab!) we put in our entry for some combined training at West Wilts.

BE90 test 97 is an odd one with no full centre lines or free rein walk, it was actually nice to ride something other than a prelim! In our lessons we’ve been working on getting me taller, my legs more effective (no clamping, like a limpit! I blame all those years riding nutters like Dustry and trying to stay on) and getting Bolly really swinging into a bigger (not faster) trot. In the canter because he knows changes I sometimes have issues inadvertently asking for an unwanted flying change when really I mean go forwards but we’re getting there….slowly….more on that later…. Jumping it’s a similar story ride more from leg to hand, and keep my shoulders up and off his shoulders until we’re in the air. So with all this swimming around in my brain we set off to West Wilts with a slight gin hangover from a wedding the day before but nothing a bit of drizzly dressage warm up couldn’t cure 😉 Warming up we went through our “gears” in the trot, collecting and asking for some medium strides and he was going nicely. He has a tendency to get tense and shorten so focusing on extending his neck forwards and asking for bigger strides not more strides helped with this. Working in around the arena he only became a little more tense and so the first movement was nice and fluid and low and behold scored an 8.5!! You can watch the full test video below. Throughout the test I felt that we made quite a few gaffs. A wonky second center line, early to walk, some canter strides in our trot transition, potato shaped circles, wonky halt and a flamboyant and totally inappropriate showing off flying change when we should have come back to trot! hahahahah. The work in-between was nice but at a guess I was scoring us around 60% taking off marks for 4-5 boo boos. I was still however very pleased as it felt like I was able to put our lessons into action, and I now had the newly found skills to try and give our best performance. Off to the show jump warm up and B pulled a blinder of a warm up.  X pole, upright, spread all jumped perfectly, great spot each time, we were (even if I say so myself) nailing it! (I am super smug about this because I am typically the person getting bucked off in the jumping warm up or clattering through the fences) So no need to jump any more in we went.

I focused on keeping a good forward active canter, keeping my hands forward and soft, and maintaining a good upright posture not being tempted to “head chase” into the fences and lean forward too early. B was so up for the jumping I hardly tipped my outside leg back to ask for canter and he was off. He was flying, jumping beautifully and giving me a great feeling. I fluffed the turn to fence 5 and should have ridden out a little wider to give us more time to come straight at it and as a result we took it on a slight angle and he just clipped the front pole of the spread and it came down.

Wake up call delivered I rode better turns and we finished clear, just 4 faults to add to what turned out to be the winning dressage score!!!!

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Being very blonde I stood and boggled at the scores for a while, doing fuzzy mental arithmetic and thinking ‘is it the highest or lowest that is best???’. One scoring system please, some of us drank too much gin to invert percentages!!! So we scored equal best dressage with 141/200 70.5% in dressage speak and 29.5 in eventer speak.

With just 4 penalties to take into account that pole cost us 1st and so we scooped up 2nd!!!! Clutching my rosette I approached Mummy Groom and she was equally gobsmacked. Some hugging, laughing, and numerous treats for the talented beast later and we packed up and set off home smiling like goons!

With that confidence boosting run under our belts we promptly went home and entered an ODE on the 18th June and have eyes on Tweseldown ODE in July all being well. In the meanwhile I shall be brushing up on my dressage skills and try to iron out our unwanted flying changes….a nice problem to have!

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