Saturday, 23 October 2010

JumpCross at Wittering

Fudge and I entered a JumpCross competition at Intro level (2' to 2'6") which was my last remaining 2010 goal. Thankfully they gave me a nice time so I didn't have to get up at stupid o'clock, just normal early ...
When I walked the course I thought it was all jumpable, but some tight twisty turns and I was not going to attempt the joker fences. Although I did walk the lines, the joker fences were enormous! There were 3 on the course, a double, and the last fence which was skinny, parallel and enormous! It took me 3 goes through the rulebook to work it all out, but basically your score is your time in seconds, refusals (+50) and knockdowns (+20) are seconds which get added on to your time as penalties. The joker fences are -40 each if you clear them, and +40 each if you knock them down. First competition, so I was just doing it to have fun.
Fudge bless him was half asleep in the warm up, he did the bare minimum to walk, trot and canter, and jumped the warm up fences. He cleared them positively so I was happy that he was just conserving energy (wise boy).
They don't count you down in a start box, it was an automatic timer, so they called us over, and basically Fudge cantered off with me when the starter in the hi-viz coat waved us through   :-)
Ah I was right, he was just conserving energy - he flew through the start, his ears pricked towards fence 1, a nice cross pole start. Thankfully Fudge then realised he didn't know where he was going, slowed down a bit and asked me where was next  :-)
Fence 2 was an arrowhead shape, on a slight uphill, no problem, then up a bank, sharp turn down it again, pop over a cross pole at the bottom. Canter erratically downhill (never been my favourite thing, and we had to slow up for the first bigger fence. More downhill to the lake and streams, basically all the water. Skinny fence 5, tiny but Fudge thought it was too small to jump, so he knocked it down! Turn back on yourself, down a bank, through a stream, up a bank with skinny fence 6 at the top, proper jump this time. Down the bank across another stream. By this time I was grinning like a maniac, it's such great fun  :-)
180 degree left turn, x pole into water fence 7, canter through quite deep water. All was going so well, then I noticed the swans calmly floating across our path. Fudge put the brakes on fast, I shouted at the swans, they looked at me as though they owned the place. Fudge shot left, I lost both stirrups and nearly fell off, grabbing some mane to hang on, I was not going to fall off into that smelly water! The swans reluctantly swam away, and Fudge trotted out of the water with me still hanging on to his mane with no stirrups. Once on dry land I pulled him up, got stirrups back, took a deep breath, and set off again. Our time was b*ggered anyway, I might as well enjoy it!
Another turn back into water (no swans) fences 8 and 9 with water between them, no problem. Negotiate narrow path with a sharp right turn to fence 10 which was a bigger upright out of the water, still no problem, Fudge had got back into a good rhythm. Even managed to jump fence 11 to change leg up another steep bank, sharp turn back down through the hedge, canter across the open, tried to make sure I was breathing still. Fences 12 and 13 I thought was a very tricky line when I walked it, but Fudge thought it was obvious and very easy, what a good boy. Downhill again to fence 14, a pole diagonally across a ditch. It was optional at this level, you could cross the stream and up a step instead, but I felt confident. Fudge flew the ditch  :-)
Then I forgot all my decisions about not jumping any jokers, after all, we'd had one knockdown and had lost time with the swans. I thought, what the heck, they don't look that big from here ... Fudge did a beautiful turn and locked onto them, so we went for it! I reckon part A was 2'9" and the spread part B was 3'  - both of which feel very big to me. Fudge eyed them up, popped part A, realised he was a long way off part B (only one stride between), and took off anyway. I slipped my reins and tried to stay on as we flew through the air - it worked  :-) I was grinning like a mad thing, telling him what a good boy he was, then I realised I had no reins to steer. We almost missed some compulsory flags and had to turn a circle whilst I collected my reins.
Across the stream for the last time, up a steep bank for fence 16, another big one but again I needn't have worried, Fudge had it all sussed out. Up the hill for the last time to offset rails, I had heard on the tannoy a lot of people having run out at part B so I planned a careful line and jumped part A on an angle, and Fudge realised straight away that part B was next. Big fence 18 straight ahead of us, and then the last fence 19 to go. I remembered I said I wasn't going to jump jokers, and decided not to risk it. Jumped the usual one, which was big enough anyway, and crossed the line yeehah-ing in my usual style  :-)
I walked Fudge off, he was dripping from all the water, and from sweat as he needs clipping again, but it didn't seem fair to clip him before this, as I was going away for a week. There was a chilly wind so I put his rug on (for once he seemed grateful) and left him with hay whilst I had a cup of tea and chatted to the girl who'd ridden after me.

JumpCross is such good fun, I enjoyed it enormously.
Then scores were announced, and we'd come 7th out of about 25 in the class!! I was over the moon. If only we hadn't had swans, I might have got a rosette! But then if we hadn't lost time with swans, I might not have gone for the joker fences double, which of course had taken 80 off my time.
Anyway a fab first go at it, they pack up for the winter now, but I hope to do it again next year.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Alconbury hunter trial

Anyway today we did a 2'6" hunter trial I have been trying to get to for about 4 years!
Each time (twice a year) it has run, the day has clashed with something else, or they turned it into a qualifier for something and didn't run a 2'6" class.

So today we made it, and got round on a beautifully sunny day  :-) When I walked the course yesterday I was happy with it, apart from a couple of fences which were up to height and one quite wide too, very flat topped. I was concerned about a sloping narrow on the side of a hill, which was the penultimate fence, as we have never jumped anything like that. It was called 'helsinki'  which meant nothing to me, but I have looked it up since!

On the day Fudge was happy warming up and seemed to realise it was XC day, he's a funny old horse really, he's done enough now I suppose to recognise the different situations. Today was studs and brushing boots, so that means XC  :-)
Anyway he was up for a good fast canter warm up, even though it was a hot day and he really needs clipping again, which can often make him sluggish. He jumped the warm up fences happily too, and was keen to trot through to the start, tanking off with me to get going!
I had to pull him up as the lady doing the gate spotted I had my watch on, which is not allowed, so I had to stop to take it off. She helpfully put it in her pocket for me saying that was better than being disqualified for wearing it!

We had about 3 mins walking around by the start, and then cantered up to the start line as they counted down the last 5 seconds and jumped the first 3 fences (palisade and 2 logs) confidently which settled my nerves. Fence 4 was a step down (they called it a ditch but it wasn't) close
to fence 5, Fudge backed off a bit down the step so we weren't on the most forward canter towards the big palisade (my least favourite type of jump) but I needn't have worried, he just popped it, and we even managed to land on the correct leg (I remembered to ask for it) to
turn a sharp right to fence 6 straightforward rails which I reckon were only 2' high.
Fudge decided he could go faster here and flew it, thankfully landing on the correct leg again (I forgot to ask this time) to go in a large left handed loop through compulsory flags around the field. We galloped this bit, Fudge was telling me these fences were easy and he could make the time if they were all going to be like those   ;-)

Fence 7 a small brush which he popped over, then turn back on yourself to the sunken road fence 8ab which was fine, Fudge decided to trot and I said that was a good decision. He continued to trot after it, I think he was a little confused because there were 2 C elements that he could see, but neither were on our course.
Off we cantered again heading for the tyres that he's jumped a number of times before when we've done Trec competitions at this venue. As he locked onto the tyres he picked up speed again  :-) So tyres for fence 9, another loop to a log fence 10, water fence 11 (trotted in and out down and up a sloping bank).

Then you turn up the hill to a table for fence 12, which I thought was up to height yesterday. So did Fudge, he backed off it and took off perfectly to clear it. I love my horse. Then fence 13 straight on but all still up hill to a chair, where the photographer was - another lovely jump, I shouldn't have worried even though it felt a big fence to me.
Fence 14 a beehive still straight on up the hill although levelling out now. Not such a good jump, I thought he would go from further back and Fudge put a short one in. I belive I squeaked!! Then fence 15ab nice inviting telegraph pole rails, not big, but horribly offset and of course you can't circle between A and B. I thought we had a good line, but Fudge didn't quite understand me, and just glanced off left to run out of the B element. I started to circle round, then had a blonde moment and shouted to the fence judge did I have to jump both parts again, and she shouted back yes! I know this perfectly well, I was fence judging myself last weekend at a coffin ABC fence! So we came round again, and this time Fudge realised what I had intended, and did a textbook angled jump over A, and a little turn to B clearing them both. Turn back on yourself and head back downhill though more compulsory flags.

By this point I was puffed and Fudge was dripping, my reins were covered in frothy sweat  :-) Fence 15 is really cleverly placed as you're both tired or tiring from doing the big up hill section, just after 3 of the largest fences on the course, and you are 4/5 of the way round the course. Fence 16 on gentle slope down was another big wide table, Fudge took off ok, I just heard a hoof tap it on the way up but we were fine. Then a nice cantering section along the top of the hill and more downhill through the last set of compulsory flags (8 sets altogether on this course!) which gave us a much needed breather. I got my head together, I steadied him up for the next turn, and told him there were only 3 more fences to go - did you know my horse can count?
Anyway fence 17 a larger but inviting fence, they called it a pheasant feeder but it was more like a house to me  ;-) Then fence 18 the helsinki I was worried about, which Fudge thought was the easiest thing he'd ever seen  :-)
Turn downhill to the last fence, a pile of telegraph poles with a blue plastic top. Fudge flew it and took off rather further back than I expected, so I slipped the reins and hailed a taxi. We cantered at high speed (still downhill) through the finish line with me yahooing as loud as I could manage!

Needless to say it took us a long time to cool down. Fudge got a bucket of water chucked over him, some walking off, sponged off, more walking off, and then drank half a bucket of water for good measure.
I got a cup of tea and a pain au chocolat sitting in the sun on the lorry ramp  :-)
We didn't get placed as of course we had 20 penalties, I worked out we came something like 14th out of 25 in the class. The optimum time was 4 mins 32 secs, and we completed in 5 mins 30 secs, so with the run out and extra circle, we would have been on a good time, so a shame really, but today's objective was to complete this hunter trial we haven't done before, so that got a big tick  :-)
Very happy with my pony, he earned himself parsnips and apples and a day off  :-)

Oh yes, and yesterday was the anniversary of the day Fudge arrived with me 9 years ago, which I put on the entry form for today's commentary. I've never entered anything that needed a commentary section filling
in before, so I wasn't sure what to put. The commentator basically read out everything I wrote, word for word!