“This weekend we braved the weather and headed to Larkhill. On Saturday it was the novices. Poor donkey and Sirius had only had one run at Aston unaffiliated as an intro. Batman was also going having had a intermediate run at Gatcombe, and Ann Allen and Gill Lamont’s The Otter was also going for his first Novice. I was very pleased with Donkey and thought he did a stunning test, though the judges didn’t agree. Otto was brilliant for his first attempt at that level. I felt Batty was a bit lazy and Sirius got rather het up when a judge released at bin liner behind his bottom in the warm up but still did some smart work. We stayed dry for the dressage, however the show jumping was another matter.
The course had some very sharp turns for the slippery conditions and had a full height fence after the triple going downhill with a water tray underneath it. I think everyone felt this was a bit much for a Novice, especially having had so many events cancelled, we weren’t doing an international competition! Sirius concurred with my thoughts and despite a lovely clear ’til the water tray decided that he had forgotten to put on his brave pants, much to Elaine, his owners disappointment! I jumped the Donkster next as his owner Viccie Parfitt couldn’t make it. Donks is only 15.3hh and we disagreed on the distance in the first double – I felt we should do it in one and he felt he could get another stride in. I nearly fell off and had to circle before the next fence and then rode the triple with unrequired haste in case he was frightened by the previous combination so we may have left one standing but also wiped out the dreaded water tray as again I rode quite positively in case he agreed with Sirius. I wasn’t cross because I should have ridden the first double better and I know he is a good show jumper. Otto came next and did a superb job until my bogie fence, this time I tried the tact of going too slowly and still wiped it out.
Luckily the weather was ok for the XC. Batty and Donk did a great but steady clear not being in contention. Otto was in contention so I set off at a great lick and got most of the scary fences out of the way, but then I got cocky. I came to the corner a little too fast and Otto decided the exit route was easier. Cursing myself, I came back around and popped it and he finished the course. I was very disappointed with myself but I was pleased with him.
The next day was incredibly windy and very cold. Ruth Wollerton’s Faye RDP and Georgia Maher’s Fulvaro were doing the BE100 and my own El Nino was doing his second BE90. Raven did a tense test in the wind but scored ok considering she was in the open section against more experienced horses. Griff (Fulvaro) was doing a lovely test until the flowers at the entrance blew over, he felt this was an excellent reason to throw himself about. Nino who is for sale did a sweet test in the wind, he was a little inconsistent to the contact but scored nicely. Nino jumped an awesome clear in the show jumping as did Faye. Griff had a pole, he was typically spooky.
Off to XC, I thought the 90 and 100 was really quite tough. Fences 3 and 4 were scary, fence 5 was a skinny with a hedge on top and 6 was a sunken road. The 90 had the same as the 100, a step down, two strides a step up and then a fence out, however the 90’s fence was big and only a stride away from the step up with brush on top. The 100 was two strides out and although skinny, no scary brush. Nino was on first and was a little green at the fourth due to the bundles of corn flapping away. He jumped the skinny well but I did give him some welly into the sunken road in case he backed off! He was so brave, he ballooned into the sunken road and landed in the middle, we didn’t quite fit the two strides out and he left his legs on the way out. We landed in a heap and I could have kicked him hard and he would have jumped, but since it wasn’t his fault I turned a circle and popped it. He was epic and I was thrilled although a little annoyed that I had let him down. Faye and Griff did great clears with Faye ending up 6th, so a mixed bag but on the whole not too bad!”