No better way to gain some confidence for the Regionals, which was back at the same venue five days later. He was again super and I couldn't have asked him to do a better test. It was 'character building' to finish third, on the same score as the lady in second (a collective lower) when only the top two qualify for the BD Winter Championships! BUT I am just thrilled that my dancing partner survived the uncertainty of the last year and is back all guns blazing - plus he still thinks a mounted prize giving is the best thing in the world!! Fingers Crossed for a wild card!
A week later we popped to an unaffiliated competition to go through our Medium 75 test and we got a PB score 67.7%, despite a couple of blunders where we are still green at this level. On the whole, I felt in control and he was really responsive even without my whip which was a vast improvement.
We tried to polish the blunders in our lesson with Sarah, who bred him, during the following week and then we focused on movements for the Elementary straight test. I had pretty much decided at this point that we would just do the elementary class and not the medium, which we got last minute qualification for, as I simply didn't feel that I could ride a good enough medium test to be at the regionals yet.
I know that he can do a fabulous elementary test now, but I still felt that we had less chance of qualifying for this straight class than the music one. So rather than obsess over the movements and annoy each other by 'over schooling' we had a couple of good gallops out hacking to keep him sweet, he had a day off(!) and then we went off to Wellington.
He did a good test, I was pleased but knew that there were moments that could be so much better. Lots of people told me it was lovely and perhaps in future I should trust them more. I was so shocked to see our score of 71.04% took us into second place and there we stayed so… WINTER CHAMPIONSHIPS HERE WE COME!!
After this my fabulous trainer Sara-Jane Lanning took me to one side and fed me some confidence and told me that I should take him and have a go at the Medium test on Wednesday; we were all aware that we are new to this level so there was no pressure and just go and have fun.
So, on Wednesday we attended the bitterly cold WINTER regionals! Unfortunately, just as I entered the arena the beast from the east arrived! What started as light snow as I entered soon turned into what felt like a blizzard - thank God Dad ran inside and got him some ear covers at the last minute! We made a couple of mistakes in the movements that I had expected, and he was a little spooky which meant our trot got a little tight and kept our score down. However, he also got some really pleasing marks and comments which is really exciting. We finished just outside the top 10 in 11th place amongst some lovely horses. A great benchmark which we can now use to build on and improve.
Three consecutive years we have qualified for the Winter Championships - It is just amazing, and I really am the luckiest person to have such an honest, willing horse and an amazing support team who never stop encouraging us. Bring on April!
(Photo courtesy of Sara Jane Lanning)