Sunday, 6 June 2010

Combined Competition - BRC Festival of the Horse

Fudge, Suzanne and I went to the BRC Festival of the Horse for our Combined Competition championship.
I got up at 5am (erk) and was at the yard for 6am only seeing 2 other vehicles on the way. Had to get out of the car to open the farm gates, shut my thumb in the car door (ouch). Thumb throbbing but not seriously injured, felt like a bad omen after I'd left poor hubby Hugo in bed after a day of throwing up and worse (yuck).
Oh well, tried to be positive, sorted lorry, went to get Fudge - hoorah he hadn't got muddy even in the rain overnight as I'd shampooed feathers and tail the day before he was still looking good, but rather dusty. Suzanne arrive to help get him ready, I plaited his mane and we set off for Aston le Walls.
I had allowed 2 1/2 hours and in fact we were there in about 2 hours 5 mins as the roads were so quiet. Plenty of time to get passport checked, go to the loo etc, and feel relaxed as there's plenty of time. It had rained a lot overnight there, so put studs in as it was all on grass. It was humid, but not yet too hot, so I didn't mind getting stock and tweed jacket on at this point. Riding Test 8 was first, got Fudge tacked up in dressage saddle, that's him ready, then me.
So I got on for our planned warm up for the riding test, walked Fudge up and down in the lorry park, not feeling quite right. Tried trot instead, it felt awful. Was the saddle slipping round, or had I got the stirrup leathers different lengths? My left foot felt lower and I was struggling to keep my foot from slipping out of the stirrup. Got back to lorry, checked stirrup hole, no it was in the correct hole, but the leather was slipping off the bar! It looked all wrong, I couldn't understand the angle the stirrup bar was at, so I hopped off. Suzanne and I peered under the flap astounded to see the bar was hanging off. The join of tree and stirrup bar had sheared across !!
So then panic change of saddle, it's a good job I was jumping too, or would have gone all that way and not been able to ride at all! White dressage saddle cloth doesn't fit the GP saddle so well, and I only had a brown girth as I was using a brown numnah for jumping - argh!
Now feeling stressed that I was late to warm up, and doing flatwork in my GP - I don't feel anything like as confident about my position and so on. Tried to calm down and concentrate on warming up. Then the sun came out, and it was boiling hot and high humidity, Fudge's least favourite weather   :-(
He felt like a slug, and I'm not allowed whip or spurs in riding test (until 2011 ...) - sigh.

Tried my best pony club kicks to wake him up before we went in to the arena, then the judge kept us waiting for ages, I think I went round the outside 4 times before the horn went. Anyway it felt OK, but not great, Fudge was poking his nose out and not helping me out much, although there were some nice moments, and he was obedient, just no spark. Suzanne walked him round for me afterwards whilst I stripped off hot jacket etc and cooled off myself. 2 hours between riding test and jumping, and they'd just finished building the course. Went to walk it, some tricky turns and a couple of (to me) seriously big fences, up to height and spread. Nothing bigger than we've been jumping in lessons though, so should be OK if we could get changes of leg etc.
Went to check scores, RT we got 70% and were in 3rd place  :-)
Apparently I can ride in my GP then  ;-)
Youtube video of Riding Test is here.
Had lunch, tried to relax whilst still planning jumping round in my head. Went over to the collecting ring in plenty of time so run through the warm up routine my jumping instructor had given me strict instructions to follow! Thankfully Fudge woke up properly at this point - hoorah jumping, not that boring dressage stuff!
Suzanne was great with putting poles up/down etc. Watched 2 other people jump to see what lines they took, then it was our turn.

You tube video is here - Style jumping
If you want to watch with the scores - nice approach very happy with fence 1 (8), straight to fence 2 (7), turn completely round the other way - Fudge went disunited and took some convincing to trot to get the correct canter again, so fence 3 (6) - hmm spotting a pattern here. Dog leg to fence 4 which was smaller, felt a nice jump and I was in the right place (7). Landed on wrong leg for the double fence 5, so trot to change again - big jump in over the spread (6) and struggled to get myself sorted for the B part (5 - comment 'behind movement'), good turn but canter feeling flat now, so fence 6 (5 - same comment), and the last spread fence 7 (5 - same comment).
Photo of jumping fence 1:
The judge gave us 7's for the canter before and after the round, a 6 for my security of lower leg (I know that needs work), and only a 5 for upper body position (again I know this) and also an interesting comment about being tense through my arms which I hadn't realised, although could have been nerves. We had 4 time penalties, the changing leg via trot probably accounts for that, but I was so pleased with Mr Fudge, he jumped so much better than in the qualifier and cleared everything. The jumping lessons have really been worth it.

There is video of the riding test too, but it's longer and I haven't had time to upload it yet.

So all over, I chilled out properly, made a cup of tea, and waited for the scores, expecting to drop a number of places as there were some very good and stylish jumping rounds. When the scores went up, we had only dropped one place so came 4th overall. Very pleased with Mr Fudge, he was a star  :-)
A gorgeous green rosette and an unexpected prize of a £15 voucher for the NAF stand, which I promptly spent!

We set off back just after 4pm, but by 4.30 had to pull over with a nasty burning smell - the front brakes had stuck on and were tryting to set fire to the wheels, well they were pretty smoky and very hot. Sigh.
We waited a little, I phoned Hugo who said throw water over them to help them cool faster. We did that a bit, and phoned for recovery ... So after 2 hours in the lay-by waiting for breakdown recovery ... I'll try to cut out the boring bit, we eventually got home much much later than planned. I was shattered and went to bed as I had to get up early today - 1st day back at school, mad year 11 revision for their GCSE exam this afternoon so a rather full day.

Tomorrow I may get 5 mins to myself to think about the broken saddle and lorry.
That was my Sunday.

PS. Big thank you to Suzanne for being so supportive all day, video-ing our rounds and keeping me sane during lorry traumas. She was a star too  :-)