The Royal International is a really buzzing show with its mix of top class show jumping and being one of the three most prestigious showing finals of the year in the UK. The National classes start on Tuesday and the International classes on Wednesday so it is also a very long week. The best decision I made after struggling at Le Mans was that I would try not to go to shows without help - definitely a good decision and I had excellent help from Steff Gibbs and Jemma Tester throughout the week which means I arrive at the ring better prepared and more able to concentrate.
Doonaveeragh Emma jumped in a 1.30 on Tuesday, just having four faults. Emma jumped three more really good rounds, two at 1.35 and one more 1.30, sadly having four faults each time, but the 1.35's looked a completely normal size at this show, whereas at the Derby Show they looked enormous, so I am obviously getting more used to jumping the bigger courses.
Having jumped Luendi in some bigger classes in Keysoe and Le Mans I thought the 1.10 Winter Novice Qualifier would be a nice easy class for her. She obviously thought it was rather beneath her, being rather rude and having two down. For the rest of the week she jumped Foxhunters and 1.20's getting better each time and finishing with a fantastic double clear in the 1.20 open on Friday. She has a really wonderful bold attitude and a very scopey jump, I just need to keep improving her ride to make life easier for both of us.
I find it hard not to be disappointed with my lack of clear rounds on Emma, but we are jumping bigger courses now, and this requires us both to be better at everything: better flatwork for a better canter and a more obedient ride; better position and self-discipline from me so I don't get in front of her or let her coast round corners; and choosing exactly the right distance to each fence - she needs to be a little bit off every fence and the verticals more than the oxers. I still struggle a little bit with knowing exactly how my course walk is going to relate to my ride in the ring and although I have always been good at riding from fence to fence with my eye, I sometimes feel my plan before I go in the ring is a bit too nebulous. On the other hand I am absolutely thrilled with Luendi's constant improvement.
Lava hof ter Zeedycke is still enjoying a lovely sunny holiday with her friends at Hickstead and will come home when I am back from Deauville.