I had a great lesson with Shane on the Tuesday morning after Auvers. Emma jumped really well, and Shane made me actually ride her rather than me letting her take charge. Shane is very clever at very quickly pinpointing where I have gone wrong and making me get a grip and ride properly.
With renewed confidence I jumped Emma in the 1.30 on Thursday. She worked in really well, and jumped a great round to finish 7th. On a very misty Friday morning I jumped Kvint in the 1.20. He jumped really well, but had a massive shy when the course-builder moved as I came to the gate and just had four faults.
Luckily I had both Becky Forte and Issy Gurney helping me on Friday - a bit spoilt and luxurious - but Kvint is a bit naughty on the lorry on his own, and so Issy was a super star and kept an eye on him while Becky helped me warm Emma up for the 1.40 in the main ring. Emma had her best round at this level at Hickstead yet, just having four faults when I rode badly into a double and having the middle of the combination. After consultation with Shane, who was in Gijon, I had a full run down how my lack of a plan had impacted on my round. We decided to go for the Grand Prix on Sunday and to ask Trevor to walk the course with me.
On Saturday I just took Kvint to jump in the 1.20. He was an absolute star and I was a geriatric fool. I got completely lost in the jump-off - managing to get 14 time faults while I looked for the third fence, which completely scuppered Kvint's chances of going in the main ring!
Bearing this in mind I walked the course very carefully on Sunday and Kvint jumped a great clear round to get placed in the 1.20.
This also gave me something to concentrate on rather than panicking about the Grand Prix. I walked the course with Trevor who was tremendously helpful, especially about how to ride the slope in the ring itself. The course was huge and technical and I couldn't really believe it was possible. We started off really well, Emma was fantastic, and then got in a little bit of a muddle to the gate and the water, so I pulled her up, got ourselves back together, and she jumped the last four fences home absolutely perfectly. Even with a score that the All Blacks would be proud of I was absolutely thrilled with Emma and even a little bit proud of myself. I never thought we would ever attempt a course like that, and actually she literally soared over the fences. So I just have to pull myself together and make myself ride properly all the time and really do her justice.
Having given the horses a very well deserved couple of days in the field and then worked them quietly last week, the had a jump on Saturday and I then had a lesson with Shane on Monday where they both jumped really well. Emma particularly was very fresh and enthusiastic. Becky Forte and I are off at the crack of dawn tomorrow to Jardy near Paris. With the weather forecast I am pleased to be doing the CSI1* on both horses. I am entered for a couple of 2* shows with Emma in October, but a bit of consolidation will be a very good thing, and she is not enthusiastic about very wet ground. It will be good for Kvint to have another stay away show before we try to step up to 1.30.
On the home front we have now got a couple of new additions to the yard. Sarah Travis is keeping her lovely four year old Sooty with us, and we also have Elena Walker keeping her beautiful pony, Lyra, with us, so the yard is getting nice and busy for the winter.