The Arena UK Festival is the final fling for the outdoor season, with classes from British Novice to Horse of the Year Show Wild Card qualifiers and every category having its own Grand Prix. Having changed my mind quite a few times I finally set off for a whole week with all four horses last Sunday. The thought of doing four horses at a show on my own and competing for a whole week was quite daunting, but the value of taking the youngsters to a stay away show and jumping them in several classes won the argument.
By supper-time on Sunday all four horses were safely settled in to their boxes, backing onto seven Breen Equestrian horses all being looked after by Nattie Biderman.
I only had Doonaveeragh Emma to jump on Monday, in the 1.25 Star of the Future qualifier, and she was drawn 190th giving me plenty of time to exercise the other three.
The bigger classes at Arena UK are run in the fabulous indoor school, which makes a great start to the indoor season, and Emma was in fabulous form. I just let her run me to a double in the jump-off and had a pole coming out. With 200 in the class and only 40 to qualify for the final it was a very fast class and I think I would have been a tiny bit slow anyway.
Luendi very unfortunately broke her pedal bone in the field at the beginning of April and so was at her first show since the beginning of April, so I gave her a quick jump round the clear round to see how she felt.
First thing on Tuesday Espirito Santo jumped in the very scary Newcomers in ring 1, just having the last fence in the jump-off. Both Luendi and Finn jumped really well in the Discovery, Luendi was thrilled to be jumping and Finn gave me the best round he has jumped yet.
On Wednesday Espirito Santo jumped in the five year olds, once again in ring 1, and a very up to height and difficult course. He just had one fence towards the end of the course. Emma jumped a lovely, but not quite quick enough, double clear in the Foxhunter and Luendi and Finn had a day of hacking and schooling.
On Thursday Emma jumped in the 1.25 in the indoor school, just getting a bit close to a fence when I turned quickly in the jump-off. Luendi jumped really well in her first 1.05, and Espirito Santo had a quiet hack.
Friday was the last Foxhunter qualifier and brilliant little Emma was 5th, qualifying easily for the Grand Prix on Saturday. Espirito Santo just failed to qualify for the five year old final and Luendi and Creevagh Doonaveeragh had a quiet day.
On Saturday Espirito Santo swept round the Newcomers to be placed and qualify for the final, and Luendi jumped in the Discovery in spooky Ring 1 to qualify for her final. Obviously the day was going far too well, as I had a totally blonde moment in the class I most wanted to do well in - the Foxhunter final - and missed out the fourth fence when Emma was jumping like a super-star. I was absolutely furious with myself - even with Shane helping I had got myself very het-up in the warm-up and I really don't know what happened to my brain - I had walked the course twice!
I decided that Luendi and Espirito Santo had jumped enough for the week and so having paid my bill I trundled home, and the horses had the most lovely afternoon out in the field in the sun.
It had been an excellent show, with great classes to watch every evening. Both Louise Pavitt and David Simpson did fantastically in the Puissance and David narrowly missed out on winning the Major Grand Prix.
Espirito Santo has come on so well in the last few shows and positively took me round his last class. I was thrilled to have Luendi competing again - she is great fun - enthusiastic, brave and careful. We were a little bit disorganised at times, she has missed so much learning work over the summer. However, she has matured physically and is ready to spend the winter catching up with her peers. Both horses managed to qualify for their finals - only the top 30 in each class of over 200 qualified - so they both showed that they can be competitive.
I was disappointed not to give Emma the chance to be really competitive in her final, but on the plus side we felt like a really good partnership all week and we both felt totally confident again having had a few wobbles since we got back from France.