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27 - 28 July Eventing Show - Part One
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   12th Aug 2013   •   8,319 views   •   0 comments
July Eventing Show

I had two mounts at this show: My own horse, Finola, doing her first 90cm event, and a client’s horse, Pride, in her second event at 70cm.

Pride is a five year old mare, Appaloosa cross Warmblood, who I have been training for a few months. She was coming from her first event months earlier with a leading dressage score, but two stops out in the country. For this event, my focus was on giving her a good preparation for the cross country, and trying to have a good, positive round – clear, if possible. We did all our homework beforehand, taking her hunting to get her courage up, and then tackling a decent course at cross country practice so she was feeling well ready for the event.

Related Article: From square one - The full story of Finola
Related Article: Finola - The Legend Goes On

Finola, of course, is my 1,30m showjumper, and if there’s one thing I don’t have to worry about on Finola, it’s the thought of her stopping at a cross country jump. She’s as brave as they come, so compared to Pride, she had a totally different set of problems. Finola was coming from a fifth place in her last event at 80cm, and with her, my aim was to actually have a controlled cross country round, without her bolting off, fly-leaping, and charging straight through little jumps that she considers to be far below her. Unfortunately, it is a necessary evil that a horse must qualify at lower heights before taking on the bigger courses. Finola’s other problem – or should I say weakness – is her dressage. Although she does ride a decent test, she hadn’t started proper dressage schooling until this year, leaving her a little behind in the dressage division. Our preparation included a number of intense schooling sessions, and one cross country practice to try out a new bit option. I had ridden her in a happymouth gag at her last event, but despite the bit being considerably stronger than what she’s used to, she still paid it no heed whatsoever, so I decided that before I turned that monster loose on a course of solid jumps, I needed to find something that she might respect a little more. For the time being, a rubber Pelham seemed to do the trick.

July Eventing Show

With both mares well prepared and ready, we headed to the event – which was taking place on a working Ostrich farm (much to Finola’s disgust) – for the first day: dressage. Finola started off quite tense, but after a little warm up she began to relax and loosen up. The main focus of my warmup was just to keep her calm and focused, whilst asking her to work through her back as much as possible. I only gave her one canter, deciding rather to keep her as quiet as possible until she started her test.

She was still fairly tense heading to the dressage arena, but she trotted down the centre line as straight as an arrow, and proceeded to perform what I consider to be a perfectly satisfactory test. Though she remained slightly tense throughout, she maintained good engagement of the hindquarters, and showed lovely rhythm and bend. She certainly put in a good effort, and managed to hold her focus right until the last movement, where she lost it trotting up the centre line. A little hollowing with a wobbly swing of the quarters dropped out last movement to a five, but the majority of her test showed sixes and sevens. She finished with a respectable test, leaving her lying fifth in a field of around twenty going into the cross country.

For Pride’s dressage, I was stuck with quite high expectations after a near-perfect dressage performance at her last event. Being a young horse, she always takes a while to settle and warm up properly, so I was on her an hour early, flexing, leg yielding and transitioning to try to get her to loosen up and work through her back. For nearly an hour she remained tense, refusing to soften properly into the contact, but with a few spirals and some snappy canter transitions, I finally got her working beautifully through her back just before it was time for her test. Unfortunately, when I got down to the arena, it was to find that two other horses had showed up to ride out of turn. As any dressage rider will know, very few things can ruin a test as well as those ten extra minutes of unexpected waiting when your horse is warmed up and ready to go. And sure enough, with new sights to see and horses all around her, Pride’s focus went out the window. I managed to relax her a little with come last-minute circles and transitions, and at first, the test went fairly well. She started off working through her back and concentrating nicely, but when she reached her walking movements about halfway through, he attention span seemed to draw to a finish. She ducked behind the contact, and the rest of her test showed some tension, leading to a somewhat disappointing performance in comparison to our last one. Her result, however, was nothing to be ashamed of – lying third in a class of over twenty, and with a test of mostly sixes and sevens.

She went on to complete her showjumping in the afternoon, and – still rather tense and nervous at the new venue – jumped a rather hair-raising clear round, with a few little spooks and some rushed jumps. Still, it was clear nevertheless, leaving Pride lying second going into the cross country.

July Eventing Show

July Eventing Show
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