It seemed a quick turnaround from Grandparent duties in Devon to being ready to leave for Bolesworth on Tuesday. Alex Kane came and helped Steff and I pack up on Monday afternoon and we left with all four horses just before 6am on Tuesday. We arrived in good time and got the horses settled, fed and bedded down so that I could start riding. It always adds a huge layer of work when the show combines National and International classes as the two sets of horses have to be stabled separately. I rode the two older horses first and then the two young horses had the opportunity to have a familiarisation session in the main ring. Askeaton was her usual expert self and could have been working in any ring, whereas Heidi was quite overcome by it all, especially the disco sound checks and I think I was quite lucky to survive the experience.
Nina Barbour and her team have had a miserable year weather-wise, the CSI4* in June was the victim of torrential rain, followed by Car Fest North in July which also took place in a deluge so that park was already very vulnerable before it poured with rain on Wednesday. Luckily it is possible to move around entirely on hard-standing now, and although all the stables got pretty wet we were able to minimise the damage with extra shavings. Heidi was the first to jump on Wednesday in the Five Year Olds in the Castle (second) ring. She was rather wild in the warm-up and also a little bit rude in the ring, but she jumped boldly round a good 1.20 track for 8 faults where she was very argumentative. Askeaton then jumped in the six year olds in the main ring in absolutely horrible weather conditions. Unfortunately this was a very, very testing track, and although there were a good number of clear rounds there were also 17 eliminations, which is too many for the first day in any competition. As I jumped the fourth fence a fence beside us fell down which interfered with my concentration, resulting in not the greatest shot into the combination so that poor Askeaton couldn’t make the middle oxer. She was her usual brave self and jumped through second time, but with time faults and also the fourth fence down we amassed a big score!
On Thursday we woke up to bright sunshine. Emma jumped a good round in the 1.30, I had a dodgy shot to fence two and then she just touched a fence in the combination, but all in all a good round. Kvint then jumped the 1.35. He slightly gave me the feeling that he hadn’t jumped quite so big for a while, but jumped a good round nevertheless. Then in the afternoon Heidi had her turn in the main ring. Alex had given her a lunge in the morning and she certainly felt a bit more civilised. She actually jumped a great round, I just had to press her a little bit to one spooky fence and she got a bit disorganised for the combination, but I was thrilled with how she took the whole thing on, and the fences were quite a decent size and technicality.
Once again Friday was wet, although luckily I had jumped all the horses before lunch so I was damp, rather than soaked. Emma jumped in the 1.30, getting a little bit silly, but still jumping well, and Kvint then put in a really great round in the 1.35, feeling super smooth and confident, just to hit the last fence in the jump-off. Askeaton then had another turn in the main ring in the second six year old qualifier. She was an absolute star putting in a clear round and only just missing out on qualifying for the championship.
Saturday saw a long awaited end to the bad weather, although the morning felt very autumnal. I rode Kvint and Askeaton who weren’t jumping that day and then rode Heidi in the five year old Consolation Final. For a consolation class it was pretty big, a good 1.20 and very technical. Watching the first few go down a complicated line of a double and four shortish strides to a big oxer was unnecessarily exciting! Heidi benefited enormously from it being the last day at the show, and jumped the most fantastic clear round. I wasn’t quick enough to be in the money, but I can’t really see what benefit going quickly on a rather hot five year old could possible have. What a great end to the show for her, and what an enormously long way she has come on this year. It was only February when she stopped twice with me in the 70cm clear round in Lier. I particularly like the music in the video below!
I then jumped Emma in the 1.30, once again she jumped very well, but was a little bit wild.
On Sunday my first class was the six year old consolation final on Askeaton. She only just missed out on qualifying for the final which was a pity as she jumped so well on the Friday. However, she jumped one of only nine clears in her class to finish just out of the money. Like Heidi she has made terrific progress this year, and although she has always been super scopey and brave, she is now so lovely in her ride and so professional in everything she does. I am really looking forward to the future with her.
My last round of jumping was Kvint in the 1.35. He jumped a really good round, just making up a bit too much distance to one double and then rather mowing down the last fence. However, he felt super confident all week over big and technical courses, and we went from feeling a bit out of practice to feeling very calm and confident so hopefully that bodes well for Hickstead next week.
It was great to see my stepmum Zandra and her friend David and sister Penny, albeit briefly at Bolesworth. Alex and I then packed up very quickly and shared the long drive home. What a luxury to have someone to share the driving with. We were home with the horses fed and settled by 10pm, and the first load of washing in the machine before bed-time.
My last show of the summer season will be the All England Jumping Championships at Hickstead next week. Askeaton and Heidi will jump in the Young Horse Qualifiers on Thursday and we’ll see where they go from there and Kvint will jump the 1.30’s and the Master’s Challenge, 1.35 Derby on Saturday if our Derby training goes well on Monday.
Many thanks to Alex Kane for her excellent help at the show, the wet weather and having the horses in separate locations made for a lot of walking, 26,655 steps on Wednesday - I must have forgotten a lot of things that day. Also many thanks to Mark, Steff, Camilla and Izzy who kept things afloat at home while I was gone. I couldn’t swan off to shows without such a fabulous team at home. As always many thanks to my sponsors, I really could not have survived without my MacWet Gloves on Wednesday, even though I had to keep squeezing the water out I never lost my grip on the reins. Saracen Feeds, Precision Equine Solutions, Just Equine, Fabbri Boots, Integrum Nutrition and Stride Management make up the invaluable team.