We went back to Scone for their 2nd event of the year. This time we were having our first PN run here and it is known for being a beefy XC at all levels. The course designer didn't disappoint and there were plenty of up to height fences on the course! But lovely to see them be imaginative and mix it up a bit with a different route from the April event and use of different fences in different places.
We had a nice leisurely dressage time of 1.42pm, however, the weather was mega hot with no wind whatsoever and it was really stuffy and warm. This is not good when riding a cob-X who is very dark and a very naturally warm horse!
Since Scone is only 1hr away and the dressage wasn't until afternoon, I had plenty of time to walk the course on the day... as long as I didn't stop to blether too long en route! Managed to turn picking up number from secretary into a 30min mission as managed to bump into lots of pals on the way! Luckily my Dad and my friend Emma were escorting me on XC coursewalk and I managed to complete this within the 1hr allocated with minimal blethering on the way round.
It was really hot and stuffy yesterday (although even worse for those competing today) and Hopalong was very quiet. Even taking a drink when offered which is not like her! Headed over to dressage and did a nice quiet wee warm up. Was going ok, not as well as she warmed up at Strathallan, but hoped that it might mean she was saving it for the test?!
Turns out we didn't do too horrific a test, ended up with 40.5 and off the bottom by 5 or 6 places, still plenty to improve on although didn't feel like we had quite as many fights about outline as normal and she stayed in quite a nice rythym. She also felt a little more relaxed and less distracted than normal. A few photos;
One for your entertainment- Ms Giraffe McPokeyness extraordinaire!
Headed off to SJ and had a horrible warm up. :( She was being really sluggish and sticky, getting in close to the upright and having a couple of stops and the spread (down to a X-pole in front as always) and I was really having to ride her. Hoped that it was just me being a nervous numpty in warm up and we'd improve in the ring.
Hmmm... not really! We had what felt like a really horrid, sticky and spooky round getting in close to everything and taking horrible big leaps. Also managed a slip around the corner on the last turn, although my friend who was watchingis convinced this made me kick on properly and make a good stride to the penultimate fence! So although this was probably one of our messiest and uncomfortable rounds... we somehow went clear and shrugged off the recent 4-fault-itis?! Not complaining, but wasn't patting myself on the back about it either.
No.1 (thanks to George Michie for this photo);
No.5- another cat-like display of agility from Hopalong! How does she jump from these crazy take off spots?! She was really boggling at the filler and backing off a mile away, she got lots of leg and a growl and did go... but very lucky to leave it up here!
No.6- giving it enough air?! (again, thanks to George for this)
Can't quite figure out what went wrong. She looks happy jumping in all the photos- ears up etc, she just felt like a totally different SJing horse than normal, not taking me to the fences like usual.
So although thrilled to have the clear SJ again at last, was also thoroughly miserable about how she felt and was worried something may be up. Was swithering about whether to go XC or not. Gave her a slosh down to see if that would help as it was SO warm. She was happy munching some grass and I decided to go XC and if she felt unhappy, pull up.
Warmed up nicely enough and was happy to open up the canter in the warm up area, so set off out the start box to see what would happen. First two fences were rolltops and jumped ok, but a little looky still. No.3 was a house, jumped similar to roll tops, so kicked on to viaduct at no.4, she spent the approach boggling and spooking at spectators on one side and fence judges on the other, got horribly close to it but picked up and launched;
Then kicked on with a "grrrr, let's go"!
Up the hill, round the corned to a double of barrels on a downhill slope. Walked as 2 short strides, Hopalong managed to spook so much at first barrel that we managed 3 in here! Bob managed to catch us from a distance over the 1st one, but trees hid us from view for part b! Defensive position much?!
We then at last got into our stride, got a fab jump over a roll top off a turn at no.6, popped the flower fence at no.7 and ponced through the water splash at 8. Kicked on up the hill to the top loop and got a lovely jump over a spread box with brush laid on top at no.9. No.10ab was two logs on a long curving line with funny camber ground. She was mega spooky to the first one, then we had a disagreement about which side to pass the Christmas tree in the middle! Managed to avoid it just but lost my stirrup over part b so wiggled up the hill trying to get it back before no.11 & 12, two palisades on a turn.
Then over a table at 13 which we got a little close to, but happily cantered down the steep hill to the main field again. I thought she might boggle the trakhener at no.14 so she got a wee smack on the bum and we launched over one-handed! Bob managed to catch a horrifically unflattering photo of us over this! But I'm one to share good and bad, so here it is for your entertainment! Poor Hopalong, sack the jockey!
But to prove we can jump nicely, here's a photo of us over the bench at 15 which she jumped beautifully.
She then zoomed through the water at 16abc (rolltop, ramp in then skinny brush out) fab and got a nice jump over the parallel rails at 17 where George Michie and his camera were;
18ab was a decent sized square box fence filled with potatoes to a corner. We got a nice jump over the box fence, but numpty rider saw a long one at the corner, Hopalong didn't and we didn't look very stylish over the b part! A little close, but fine over straw bales at 19 then nice jump over the saw bench at 20 to finish clear.
The looking/spooking/general oddness meant we had 8 time pens, but this didn't affect any potential placing. So first DC for us at PN, yet I'm still a little down about it?! I think I may be over analysing a little, looking back on the XC, we had more good jumps than bad overall. She was happy to gallop on and cantered happily down a very steep hill with hardcore track, so this hopefully means it wasn't soreness bothering her.
I'm hoping it was a combination of me being a bit plebby/defensive in the SJ, her being a bit sluggish due to the heat and having a bit of an off day too.