Nationals Bound

In July I went to our regional showjumping and style jumping qualifier for the British Riding Clubs National Championships.  The showjumping did not go quite to plan as we had one refusal and  twenty three time faults in the first round which clearly put us well out of the running.

We had to go into our second round almost immediately so I gave myself a stern talking to and tried to push my horse forward more.  We had a pole down but were at least inside the time and it felt like a much better round.  Obviously I came nowhere individually but we did come fourth as a team which was some comfort.

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Picture credit: Indy Equine Photography

We moved on to style jumping which I had never done before so I was quite nervous about it.  Especially as the horse I was riding is inclined to pick up the wrong canter lead on the left rein.  However, this time we got all the right leads, the course felt nice and flowing and we jumped clear.  All I could do then was cheer on the rest of my team and wait.

I ended up coming second which was very exciting and totally unexpected.  The person who beat me was on the winning team so I knew there was a chance I could be invited to the Nationals as an individual but I tried very hard not to get my hopes up.  However, two weeks ago I received an invitation and so we are going to Nationals after all.  When I heard I was so thrilled I actually squealed and dropped my phone.

I have been up once before – fifteen years ago when I was a junior and got eliminated in the second round of the show jumping.  Hopefully I will at least manage to finish the competition this time!

The Championships are next weekend (I am both very excited and very nervous at the moment!) so I will have no blog post next Sunday.  I will update you on the whole experience the following week.  Fingers crossed it’s a good one!

Gadding Without Galahad

My riding of the ponies has been a bit curtailed recently as I had the opportunity to ride on my riding club’s showjumping team last weekend and I had no hesitation in taking it.  Obviously the jumps are too high for Galahad – hence the riding of other horses.  Before we had the ponies I used to ride so many different horses in my lessons and it really did make me a better rider – I was reasonably confident sitting on anything.  These days I am much more nervous and it feels like it takes me longer to get to know new horses – just because I have got so used to the ponies’ way of going.  These couple of weeks have really brought home to me how much I have lost and I am determined to keep riding other horses.

It has been several years since I jumped proper grown-up sized jumps and even longer since I competed for the riding club so I was somewhat nervous but very, very excited.  We had a much earlier start than Galahad and I are used to – we do stick to the local shows after all – and I am certainly not used to getting the horses ready in the dark.  We also had an interesting journey as the lorry broke down and we arrived as the class was starting.

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I didn’t have my usual support crew with me so thank you to Wayne for taking some brilliant photographs!

Of course, that meant we could not walk the course but we are nothing if not determined and it certainly wasn’t the first time I have jumped without a course walk.  I overshot one turn slightly but overall we got round pretty well with just one pole down.

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We did manage to walk the course for the second round but annoyingly we still had a pole down and time faults as well – which meant we were the discard score for that round.  I was still so proud of us though – I had only ridden Murphy a few times and we were working well together.  I learnt so much too which I can hopefully use another time.

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In the end our team came third overall and second of the qualifiers.  We actually had the same score as the qualifying team but were slightly slower – which makes that pole and time faults extra frustrating!

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I had the most amazing day though and am very much hoping that I get to do it again soon.

Jumping Variations

After the excitement of getting the jumps out, I finally got the chance to use some of my birthday presents (from March!).

First I had a wall jump for the first time.  It’s a great design and fits neatly over a straw bale.

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It might be meant for the ponies but the first jump belonged to the dog.

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When I did get to jump it with Galahad I was fully expecting him to try to run out so I set up some guide poles but he actually popped over it with no trouble at all.  I think my face shows how astonished I was.

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The wall is double sided so of course we had to jump it both ways.  This time Galahad did run out at our first attempt but as usual it was because I didn’t keep my eyes up.

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I also got some pole sleeves which just needed trimming and sliding on.  As always, my Dad came in very useful.

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Once again I looked down at the jump and Galahad ran out.  After that he jumped very well but I really must work on looking up!

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As you can see, there were enough trimmings to make an extra interestingly coloured pole.

We had a great time playing with the jumps and I am looking forward to using them more.  It is good to get Galahad jumping as many different things as possible but apart from that it is fun!

Making Progress

Last Sunday Galahad and I went to a jump-cross challenge competition – a round of show jumping followed by a cross country course.  Given our last cross country outing had involved a lot of stops I was feeling a little apprehensive.  However, Galahad was jumping very well in training (barring some braking issues).  That and the fact that his back was probably a bit sore last time gave me some reason to hope we would manage better this time.

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We entered the 50cm class and the show jumping went pretty well.  We had one stop – I still don’t know why – but the rest of the round felt really good and back up to our normal level.  We made our way to the cross country course and actually managed to get over the first fence at the the first attempt.  That was much better than last time – as you can hear if you watch to the end of the video and listen very carefully!

In fact, the whole course was miles better than last time.  It was almost the same course and the only fences we stopped at were the quarry (which we had previously only jumped with a lead in the pairs class) and the chair (which was the fence we had to miss out last time).  Everything else we just flew over.  I was enjoying it, Galahad was enjoying it and it was so much fun.

We had too many stops to place in the cross country or the combined competition but as the show jumping was split into senior and junior riders we managed a fourth place for that which was very welcome.

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We also entered the show jumping section of the 65cm class.  Galahad felt even better and I was much more confident.  I did however completely misjudge the turn into the double and presented Galahad with a horrible angle at one of the widest fences on the course.  I was convinced he would either stop or just crash through it.  He did hesitate slightly but popped over it and the second part of the double with no problem at all.

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We did knock one fence down but in a completely unrelated incident.  We claimed fifth place in that class which felt very good indeed.

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It was good to feel that Galahad was enjoying his jumping – the rosettes were a bonus and we had a fantastic day.

Pinging

We recently had to have the fields topped again, which meant that I had to put all of my jumps away.  Then it started raining and we couldn’t cut the grass.  It didn’t seem worth getting the jumps out when I would only have to pack them up again so it has been a couple of weeks since we have been able to jump.

Last week however, it was finally dry, the grass was cut and the jumps came out of storage.  I found this lovely moth on one of them – it was huge!

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Its wings were open when I first saw it but it closed them before I could get to my camera.  It was beautiful though.

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I’m sorry the pictures are rather blurry.  Apparently the camera couldn’t cope with the light levels!

Galahad seemed as excited as me to see the fences – he was rushing rather to start with and he was putting in some enormous jumps.  We then had a horrid jump over the filler and completely demolished the fence.  After that he was much more sane!

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He was actually jumping quite nicely and we had a lovely evening in the field.  We didn’t overdo it though – it was still pretty hot even at nine o’clock in the evening!

Back to Jumping

Another result of the field drying out is that I can finally use my birthday present pole sleeve and filler.

Galahad was being a bit awkward steering wise as he wanted to go and talk to Cookster so he did run out once or twice.  We perservered though and eventually got some very nice jumps from him.

It is the first time he has jumped for several months and also the first time he has jumped a filler like this so I was actually quite pleased with him.  We also popped over a water tray and a log a few times – we had a rather productive session really.  It was great to be able to school again and we had a lot of fun.

Job Satisfaction

I am terrible at procrastination.  I seem to have a constant list of small jobs which need doing but something more important comes up and after all they can always be done tomorrow.  Last weekend though I had a free day and made the most of it to get some yard chores done.

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My jumps have been lying in the field for the last few weeks – unusable because the ground is so slippery.  I have been wanting to get them put away – obviously I don’t want them to rot!

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Sorry the picture is so blurry – it doesn’t look it but it was getting dark!

As is almost always the case it turned out to be a much smaller job than I had anticipated and didn’t take long at all.  They are still outside but they are not sitting in the wet any more which is the main thing.  Hopefully I will get around to painting them this winter.

 

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I also managed to get the yard properly cleaned and swept.  I keep it pretty clean anyway but the ponies are always tracking in mud which needs scraping off every so often.  Again,something I have been putting off for a while!

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Lastly I filled the water trough.  Obviously, it always has water in it but if I am in a hurry – and I usually am – I just make sure that there is enough in it to last the day.  It takes quite a long time to fill the whole thing but it does mean it won’t need doing again for a few days.

It is incredible satisfying to get the yard chores done.  Having the afternoon to do them all made me feel like a proper equestrian!

Teamwork

Galahad and I recently got another chance to compete as part of a team, this time with the riding club.  It was again teams of four with each person jumping a different height.  Obviously with my little pony I was jumping the lowest height.

The warm up was again on rather damp grass and given our mishap on our last outing I was very careful over the practise fences and didn’t come out of a trot.  We still slid into one of the jumps and Galahad was a bit wobbly trying to avoid the muddy take off spot so I didn’t over jump him.

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Our first round went very well and we whizzed round clear.  My team mates did the same so after one round we were in the lead and quite excited.

Galahad was also great in the second round but I messed it up for him.  Between fences three and four we needed to change the canter lead but I got my whip tangled in my reins and was distracted by trying to untangle it.  I didn’t even think about the leading leg until it was too late.  We had to jump off the wrong leg so Galahad wasn’t well balanced and we knocked the fence down.

It was such a silly mistake and it really wasn’t necessary to untangle my whip – I felt pretty bad about letting both Galahad and my team down.  The next two members of my team both got four faults as well and the last got twelve.  We ended up eighth out of ten which wasn’t bad but was rather disappointing after our good start!

Part of a Team

Galahad and I have made our debut as part of a team!  It was incredibly exciting as I haven’t been on a riding team since I left university and Galahad never has.  I was nervous I would completely mess up – not on my own account but I did not want to let my team down.

The day didn’t have the best of starts as the warm up fence was on grass and it had been raining.  Galahad was jumping well but slipped over just after landing and we both ended up on the floor and pretty muddy.  Luckily neither of us was hurt and after getting the worst of the mud off Galahad we were ready to go again.  I was a little concerned he would have lost his confidence but he popped back over the fence with no problem and we were all set.

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I needn’t have worried at all – Galahad was a star and flew round the course clear.  Each team member jumped a different height and had two rounds – the second against the clock.  Our practise over angled fences gave me the confidence to push Galahad a bit harder in the timed round and again Galahad was super and flew round. I could not be more pleased with him.

We ended up coming second in the class and were only beaten by a boy on another team from my yard which wasn’t so bad.  Apparently there wasn’t much between us time wise and I was absolutely thrilled (the fact that I had done well for the team definitely helped with that!).

I spent the rest of the day manning the arena gate (and getting sand constantly blown into my eyes).  It was good to feel part of the team and I got to catch up  with a few friends I hadn’t seen for a while so I had a great time.

The next member of my team won her class, then the other two came tenth and eighth.  It was a very close run thing but overall as a team we came fourth which I was very pleased with as a first attempt.  We were second out of the three teams from my instructor’s yard and as we were the least experienced I thought that wasn’t bad either!

Overall I had a fantastic day and was very pleased with the way Galahad went.  He has improved so much over the last few months and I have a lot more confidence in our ability now.  It feels great to take him round a course and I can’t wait for the next time!