Sunday, 30 May 2010

Scotsburn PN 29-05-10

Both Heidi and I are having a quiet day recovering from completing our first PN (BE100) yesterday at Scotsburn, north of Inverness. My friend kindly offered us a lift up in her nice big lorry so Team Hopalong travelled in much more style than normal!

We went up on Friday afternoon and got settled into the on site stabling and went to walk the course. It all looked quite nice, plenty of them up to height and the only ones really making me feel a little worried were two big steps up a hill and a very wide ditch at the half coffin.

Plaited up in the evening and enjoyed a BBQ then off to bed with an early alarm set- dressage test was at 8.24am!

Lots of rain overnight but luckily dry in the morning when I got up. Had a bit of a stress warming up as had left Bob to go get my number from the secretary's tent for me and he still hadn't appeared when they were shouting for the rider two to go in front of me! This meant we didn't have an ideal warm up and were both far too tense. :( Felt a really horrible test, with the exception of the free walk on a long rein and the judge agreed- score of 44 with 6s/5s and a solitary 8 for the free walk. Not the worst, but not as good a score as we could have hoped for.
So on to the SJ. Didn't warm up very well (I never do, tend to get a little nervous!) but went in and had a decent clear round. :) Saw a few long ones and chipped in a little close to some, but she was as careful as ever and made sure to keep them all up. :)

Then on to the real fun bit- XC! She was very keen and bounced over to the start box. :) Headed out over rails at no.1 and wall at no.2 fine;
And then onto a roll top with brush at no.3, the plan being to aim for the right hand "half moon" of brush. However, Heidi jinked left on the last stride and ended up taking on the middle (highest!) part!!! Bob very happy to capture my expression over this fence! Just goes to show height is not a problem for Hopalong! ;)
Kicked on to no.4 after laughing with Bob "what did you say about not jumping the highest part?!", over the palisade to drop and then super over the skinny brush at no.5. Then on up the hill to the scary steps at no.6, although she did these really nicely. Fab jump over straightforward roll top at no.7 and over the wall at no.8. A corner (that wasn't really a corner, more like an angled box fence!) at no.9 then down the hill to the ski jump at no.10, she was a little spooky but went;

Then down a very steep hill trying to get my reins back to no.11, another drop fence!

No 12 was a half coffin with a hanging log (could see daylight under it!) as part a and a ditch at part b. I was worried that the ditch was very wide, but turns out I should have worried about the spooky log- she backed off it and I wasn't quick enough/firm enough to do anything about it, so we picked up our first XC pens. :( Quite annoyed with myself as I should have reacted quicker. We weren't alone though, that fence was causing a lot of problems! Over it 2nd time around and popped the ditch no bother.

Up the hill to 13ab (small step up to a house fence) then along to 14ab (big, square log pile to a roll top on an angle) all fab, then around over another house fence at 15 and down the hill to a step down at 16, another step down at 17a and a step into the water at 17b- lots of steps! She was very bold at the first step, backed off at the water, but went in ok and then had a nice canter along the water (with a spook at the novice fence on the way through!) to jump out over the "lock" at no.18;
Out of the water, around the last corner and over the last fence;

And then home over the finish line to complete our first PN! :D

So although I'm annoyed that our dressage could have been better and I should have been more "grrrr" at the 1st attempt of 12a, there were a lot of good points- the other XC fences she jumped fab and a clear SJ to be happy about.

Heidi cooled off and travelled home fine and was happy to be out mooching with her field pals again yesterday evening. :) Next up is a XC training day with David Gatherer at Oatridge on 13th June and then Hopetoun BE on 3rd July. I think I'll be brave and enter the PN for Hopetoun! :)

Thursday, 20 May 2010

XC Schooling at Hendersyde Park with Les Smith

A little bit slow to update, but it's been a busy week!

On Sunday, we trundled down to Hendersyde Park, Kelso, for a XC lesson with Les Smith. Sadly I had a cold appear all of a sudden over the weekend, so wasn't feeling 100% and poor Heidi had to put up with me not quite being on the ball (even more than normal?!) but she was a super star. :)

Started off doing a little 20mins over SJs, jumped the spooky filler fine;
And spread fence;
And we finished with a loop over a very skinny rustic fence and some XC rails;
Rode these two fences like a numpty first time around, much better second time though once I'd woken up!

So then out onto the XC course properly and started over a tiny log (
very scary apparently!) then a bigger log and straight around to jump it's bigger neighbour;

Then the same thing over some box fences- started with a small one and worked out way up to a pretty decent sized one. (photographer too far away for pics of these!)

And then over to the bank, where Les had us string a wee course together which was good. :) Love the first shot of this sequence!
And lastly on to the water complex. Decided to not give her the option of getting to paddle in via the ramp and go straight for a step/drop in, as that's what we'll need to do at Scotsburn at the end of the month! She was a little bit "precious" about it, but went in, which is what matters! ;)
Spent a bit of time going in off the drops and out up the steps;
And then Les decided we should try the jump into the water! Eeeek! This was what Heidi thought of it first time around (cheeky monkey doesn't appear to be even considering it- she's not even bothering to look!);
So a couple of attempts later (rider also got a little wussy at the thought of a dunking in the cold, murky water!) once I'd given both of us a growl to get on with it and we managed this (spot the change from "concentration" to "relief" in my expression! ;)
So very happy to have achieved that as would never have imagined we'd do anything like a jump into water! :D

Been doing lots of hacking this week to get fitness levels sorted for Scotsburn on 29th May (apparently a hilly one!) and popped down to SNEC on on Wednesday evening for their low-key unaff SJ evening. Did the 85cm and 95cm classes and although both Heidi and I were a little snoozy (neither of us are great doing late nights and it being quite warm and clammy didn't help!), we managed two double clears to come 2nd in both classes. :) Still panicking when I can't see a stride, so need to work on that! Can't get a happy medium- outdoors she's too forwards and indoors she needs more revving up!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

3rd time lucky at Auchinleck!

Our third BE of the year was on Sunday at Auchinleck, another BE90 (intro). We went down and camped to split up the travelling and make a weekend of it. Stabling was down the road at the location of Eglinton Horse Trials and Hopalong was very happy in her stable on arrival enjoying a good nosey at everything going on;
According to the little card on the door, the previous `occupant was one of Ruth Edge's horses- I was hoping she may have left some dressage diva vibes behind for Heidi to soak up! ;)

Went along to Auchinleck and enjoyed watching some of the Novice XC while walking my course. The BE90 XC was very straightforward and not hugely up to height (certainly not compared to Scone!) so I knew any issues would truly be numpty rider error.

We had a nice DR time of 11.30am, so plenty time to pack up the tent and get on site and warmed up. The arenas were near the SJ, but quite quiet and she warmed up quite nicely. For a change, it didn't all go to pot once we went in the arena and we did a fairly nice test with some form of an outline for some of the time, felt a lot better than our Scone attempt!
Turned out we managed to score 36pen (64%) which is our best BE score to date! :D Thrilled with that, hopefully not a one off...!

We had a long wait of about 3hrs until SJ, although when we turned up they were already running a little late and then a poor girl fell off a few horses before me and broke her leg, so long wait for ambulance to rescue her and get the arena cleared. We were third in after the unscheduled break and managed a clear round. Had a panic coming into the double thinking we were getting too fast and flat and hooked her into the bottom of the first part, but she was clever through it and left it up. Saw a long one at no.8 (see piccie below!) and again at no.9, but managed to finish on a clear round! :)
Looking at the scoreboard at the end of the day, there were a lot of cricket scores in the SJ and very few clears, so very pleased with Heidi, she is such a careful SJer, I'm very lucky!

So super-quick change around of tack for horse and rider (thanks to my pal Nic, her Mum and Bob for helping!) and off to XC. Set off and she did not respect the tiny log at no.1 and had a wee spook at the fence judges beside the brush fence at no.2, but flew over the roll tops at 3 and 4 fab, then down to the water at ramp in (no.5) and step out (no.6);
The step out was on a bit of an angle due to where you came in and where you were headed after and she just caught her right toe on the edge, but managed to pull it out in time! Sharp turn left and over a sheep feeder fence at no.7;
And then a sharp right turn to tyres at no.8 where she thought she'd make it more fun by taking a big leap over these!
Then up the hill and over the house at no.9;
And out of sight of our paparrazzi over a roll top at no.10, palisade down hill at no.11, pipe fence at no.12 and then onto the woods section. When course walking, I'd spotted a "short cut" through the wooded section by taking an angle over the rails in (no.13), cutting straight through instead of around the corner and then jumping out over the palisade (no.14) on an angle- thought it would make a good test for us as well as saving precious seconds! She flew through this on a bit more of an angle than I'd planned and made it feel very easy. :D

Then back into the woods and over a little ditch at no.15, she had a wee look but popped over nicely and then back out into the field over a roll top at no.16;
And down the hill to the chair fence at no.17;
Then gallop off down the hill and through the second water (ramp in and out) at no.18, over the wall at no.19 then up the hill and over the roll top at no.20 to finish clear inside the time by 10s. :)

So 3rd time lucky by getting all three phases right in the one day! ;) I was over the moon to find out this was good enough for 4th place and even more excited to realise today that this has qualified us for a regional final (top 10% of normal BE90 sections qualify) where if we can finish in the top 25% of the regional final (held at Turnberry in September) we qualify for the BE90 Grassroots Championships which are held at Badminton! Now there's an incentive to work on our dressage before September...! ;)

Next in the calendar is a XC lesson at Hendersyde Park this weekend to add to this weekend's confidence building run before our first BE100 (Pre Novice) attempt at Scotsburn on 29th May. :)