The hot weekend of 8th and 9th Sept, I competed in a Level 2 Trec Qualifier.
Another first for me and Mr Fudge, we had been hoping to do a qualifier for a while, but somehow it hadn't quite worked out.
That weekend is the worst timing for a teacher, after first week back at school, so I had decided not to enter, and was going to do a different Trec at the end of September, which would have been even nearer home ... but that one that was cancelled.
So ... I was really brave and entered by myself (my usual partner's horse is still lame unfortunately).
This meant getting away ASAP from school on Friday, loading up lorry, and driving into the depths of Northamptonshire to get parked, and the corral up for Fudge before dark.
There was an accident on the A14 so we were stuck in trafffic for about 20 mins, but still made it with enough time.
No-one spoke to me at all (treccies can be an odd and cliquey lot), but I worked out by watching other people that I should take Fudge to the vetting check.
I was a little concerned about it being right after he'd been on the lorry for nearly 2 hours, but he'd just had a roll and pinged back up again so walked him around a bit and went for it anyway.
Vet very complimentary and all was fine trotting up :-)
Sublime evening moment was eating my dinner, sitting on the lorry steps, watching Fudge settle in (he ate the grass in his corral the first night) in the sunset as the sun went down behind trees on the top of a hill.
Oh yes the glass of wine might have helped too :-)
Saturday's POR (orienteering) we were due to start at 11.55 so I had a nice easy morning drinking tea, getting saddlebags etc ready, fetching water for Fudge etc.
The organisers were a bit behind by about 15 mins, but no problem copying route (had remembered my specs!!) and set off.
There was a lot of road work on the route, and speeds meant you had to trot a lot of it.
I decided to trot as much as we both felt up to, and not to push it for the time if it felt too much.
We got overtaken by a few people, but happy as we'd gone through some lovely countryside, on a lovely sunny day, and seen some pretty villages, and I was feeling confident with the navigating.
The speed on one of the off-road sections was 11 kph, but the route was twisty and was obviously going to take a lot of work and checking to get right.
At this point I found a few other riders going in all sorts of different directions :-(
I took my time, chose my best guess (there were 3 possible routes all almost parallel), ignored other people going other routes, and ended up by a little wood and by a gate.
Careful map checking made me finally give in and open the gate (impossible to do from horseback) to go through.
This brought us into a gorgeous grassy field, and all the landmarks fitted the map - happy Cindy :-)
However, even the opportunity to canter across this lovely field was interrupted by spotting a ticket, where I had to stop to look closely to write the correct number down.
It turns out I was correct going through the gate, but had made an error earlier, which gave me some penalties.
Anyway continued here, careful compass checking, met lots of other people who had taken different routes but got to the same place!
Finally found another checkpoint, only to find I had missed the correct entry flags which they had hidden out of sight. Grrrr.
By this time we'd been going a few hours, and it was 28 degrees, very hot, and no water for the horses.
The next bit was easy roads, and another checkpoint where there was a field full of horses and riders.
Two levels were using the same route, so we could not leave more often than every 5 mins.
I had an hour to wait here, and still no water for the horses.
It turned out that the Level 3 riders had previously had a vetting stop and there had been water there for them.
Us poor L2 riders has been going 3 or 3.5 hours (or longer if they'd got lost) and had no water.
Finally me and another rider persuaded them to phone back to HQ to get someone to come out with a bucket which could be filled from a little stream.
This turned up 10 mins before I had to leave the checkpoint, but thankfully Fudge did get a drink.
I then discovered why we had to be 5 mins apart - the next section had loads of gates :-(
Some could be done from horseback (Fudge is pretty good with gates) but some could not.
Next checkpoint was by a farmyard, again I stupidly walked straight towards them, instead of being suspicious, so picked up more penalties (although of course I didn't find this out until later).
The last section went through a field that had a water trough, so we stopped for Fudge who was very grateful for a long drink.
Sadly the route after that had a lot more gates again. I was pretty fed up of them by then :-(
We found the finish line, and then had about another 4 km back to the lorry park.
I'm afraid it leaves a sour taste that a 20km route becomes 24km, although Fudge felt fine, we just ambled back, and I got off and walked for the last mile or two.
We finally got back to the lorry nearly 6 hours after we'd started. A 20km route usually takes about 4 or so hours.
Fudge washed down and happy with haylage, I had a cup of tea and a snack, then went to walk the PTV (obstacles) course before dark.
Nice course, interesting variations, and some challenges to give a clear difference in the marks.
At least by now I'd met more people to talk to, at checkpoints etc, and whilst they were walking the course too.
Dinner, more wine, and then early to bed shattered!
Sunday morning vetting, I thought Fudge might be stiff, but he was in better shape than I was ;-)
Vet very happy with him, but I did watch her fail someone else's pony who really was lame, even I could see it, and I'm usually rubbish at seeing these things.
Another leisurely morning then, also running late on the timings, but Fudge warmed up nicely and was keen.
Control of paces felt good in both walk and canter, thought they should both get a score (they did)!
Started the PTV course and Fudge decided he should be doing XC, and got faster and faster as he couldn't see other horses any more! Sigh.
We finished within the time, but the ridden immobility we got 0 for, as he wouldn't stand still at all :-(
It took a while to stop him for that I could get off for the led sections ...
We trashed a couple of other obstacles too, but also scored some 10s, so happy overall.
The final obstacle was a log jump, max height for L2, Fudge flew it perfectly so we finished in style.
Nice cool down and chat to some other people, packed up and drove home.
Provisional scores on the Sunday put me in 8th place out of 12 competitors, talked to the organiser about where I'd gone wrong with the route.
At least I know what to look for in future!
I thought my score was quite low, but there were some much worse than me.
There had been 13 entries but one had got so lost and behind on the timings that she'd given up.
Final scores published last week, and I finished still in 8th place.
Bit disappointed with my score, but overall still very pleased that I went, and did the whole thing without getting horribly lost.
Another 2012 goal ticked off, I successfully completed a Trec Qualifier :-)