Sunday dawned bright and clear – a perfect day for competing. I got so cold riding on Saturday that I put on a lot of layers on Sunday. Naturally it was warmer on Sunday and I didn’t really feel like I needed them but I was glad of them later in the day.
I was completely rubbish at getting up so I had to rush through the chores and then enlisted my sister’s help – she washed off Galahad’s feet and fed me breakfast. Literally! Luckily I had packed the night before and we were ready when my lift arrived.
We had about two hours to wait before our first class so I got to watch some training classes which were pretty useful. Galahad stood tied to the lorry the whole time and was very good indeed.
Anyone who saw my trec training post might know that I was hoping we wouldn’t get a gate to open in our course. I also didn’t want the wooden ‘bridge’ as Galahad is not too happy walking over it. I was thrilled to find that neither of them was on my individual course. The gate was in my pairs course but I decided not to think about that!
I got on Galahad and he felt amazingly calm and relaxed – much more than he usually is at events. We didn’t really have any spooking all day – just the odd stop to have a good look at people.
Our individual class went pretty well. The first part is the control of paces – walking fast and cantering slowly. I never expect to get points for walking (we only have little legs) but normally we do well on the canter (again, little legs – our fast canter counts as slow!). However, this time I was trying to be too clever and slow the canter too much so we broke into trot. Twice.
Apart from that – which was completely my fault – I was really pleased with our round. Galahad refused point-blank to walk over the water tray but he had never seen one before except under a jump. If we could school over one I am sure he would be fine. He also refused the tarpaulin which is not usually a problem for us. Everything else was brilliant. We had never done the low branches obstacle mounted before so we stuck to a walk. I needn’t have worried though – Galahad just walked straight through with no hesitation. I didn’t ride the S-bend of poles very well but Galahad figured out his feet by himself like the clever pony he is.
We next had a pairs class over the same obstacles plus the gate. This time I just focused on keeping the controlled canter going and we scored 15 points out of a possible 30 which was pretty good!
Again the obstacles went pretty well. He still wouldn’t walk over the water tray but we did at least manage to open the gate which was better than I thought. Of course, to get any points we needed to walk through the gate and close it again! Still, it was a start. The low branches were set a little higher this time and we trotted through easily. Now I just need the confidence to canter and get even more points. The same goes for the bending poles – I know Galahad can do it at home but it is very different at a competition!
We came away with a third in the individual and a second in the pairs. Our scores were a bit lower than they have been in the past but given our lack of practise that is hardly surprising. For me the day was still a complete success because Galahad’s behaviour was impeccable. He was so calm and relaxed all day, he let people pet him and he was even happy for a lady to have a good look at his saddle – she has an Exmoor cross and is struggling to find a saddle to fit him. It was an amazing day and a great start to 2017.