Remember last time... three steps forward, two back... well, we regrouped following our disappointing first BE run at Bishop Burton and headed to Sapey’s Unaffilated ODE. It’s been a while since I’d competed at this venue and I’d forgotten what a super course it was. After a fairly lengthy journey there, we pulled in to glorious sunshine.
The grass had been left fairly long, which provided fabulous going. The course walked fairly strong for Mindy, especially as she’d lost some confidence the previous time out. So as I walked up the fairly steep hill towards the quarry fence - a strong log, step off and log out - I was already sensing I might have to ride her stronger than I normally would like. I was especially mindful that the foray that surrounded Oliver Townend’s riding at Badminton was still swirling... it’s really tough riding a horse that is green, or suddenly goes green on you, no matter what preparation you’ve done. If you’re suddenly faced with some very quick decisions to make to ensure the safety of both you sometimes, you need to use your entire armoury - seat, legs and persuader!
There were a number of log type fences throughout the course - for some reason Mindy finds these fences really spooky and challenging - then a really quite tough water complex two from home... this was certainly going to a test of my riding skills and both of our fitness!
Dressage first, Mindy warmed up beautifully, although she’s still muscularly quite weak, she’s really starting to feel confident now so I’m able to ask more of her. It was getting rather hot, but thankfully she held it together and performed a really solid test for 25.8, I was so pleased with her work. Then straight onto jump a really classy clear in the show jumping.
A quick turnaround and after a couple of lengthy holds on course, we counted down... three, two, one, good luck! We wiggled and snaked our way to the first fence, which headed directly away from the lorry park. Mindy was not feeling particularly forward and jumped the first three fences a little more ‘backward’ than I’d have liked... this was going to be hard work! We started to make the climb to the fourth, jumped it better, I gave her a pat and we headed to the fifth. We needed to gain confidence quickly, the quarry was fast approaching! We jumped the fifth really nicely, confidence building... the quarry next, come on girl... couple of taps on the neck, bum in driving position, legs kicking... she flew through... big pats!
Each fence presented a good question, which she answered with confidence really building each time. We were coming towards the final tough question, the water complex... back into the driving position... sit back! We jumped through it slightly green, but she felt great, reading the question perfectly and onto the last fence and we were home clear! I was so pleased with her and totally exhausted... did I mention it was really hot! With it being so warm, I jumped straight off loosened her girth and noseband, and then walked her back slowly to the lorry to get her a drink, washed off and legs iced. I walked over to the scoreboard to check the scores and realised we’d actually won! Two steps forward...
Our next trip came up quickly the following week, another try at BE, Speetly this time. Our first visit, what a super place. We warmed up really nicely, and performed a really nice test and the scores reflected what I felt, until the walk... Mindy has a great walk, which she exhibited... but the judge thought otherwise and awarded a 4, which spoilt our rather nice score sheet - we finished on a 31.8.
We untacked and set off to walk the course. It walked fairly straightforward, flowing and as we’d finished with confidence last time out I was really looking forward to tackling the track. We got back to the wagon to find Mindy had bumped her leg on the partition, nothing serious at all but we decided to save her for another day. Whilst really disappointing, we have to look at the bigger picture, she’s young and her time will come, I’m sure of that.
Writing this I realise what a mad month June has been as we also took a trip to Bramham with Mindy, where she performed brilliantly for an 8th place and Weston Lawns for 5th, in the BYEH qualifiers. We are getting closer to that golden ticket!
We’ve also had the king, Ash, out for more flat training and jumping. He’s feeling the best ever, really fit and desperate to get out... but frustratingly that’s not going to happen until we get some rain.
It was so nice to meet up with some of the British Horse Feeds team at Bramham. Next year, I’m hoping Ash and I might get to have a spin around that magnificent course!
Dream big... work hard... dreams do come true!
Kick on, and stay safe!