More Ups And Downs Than The Welsh Valleys

Everyone says the horse world keeps you grounded: there are always ups and downs.

At the moment I’m having my roller coaster ride with eventing.

A couple of weeks ago Otis and I were seventh in a strong section, finishing on our dressage score, which was fab news. So I was confident going out last weekend. 

The venue is a very busy one, but dressage and showjumping are on a surface, which can often work in our favour. I didn’t think my dressage test went particularly well, although he was consistent, despite being right next to the cross country course.

However, a score of 33 was good enough for fifth going into the showjumping so I was happy enough.

Next came the showjumping, and immediately I found that the going was very deep on the new surface. It showed. Otis clipped the first fence with his forelegs, which is highly unusual as he usually raps the back rail with a hind leg. Then he clattered another two jumps, accumulating 12 faults. I was really disappointed as we’ve been working really hard on the showjumping and he’s so consistent at home.

Anyway, I had a quick turnaround before heading over to the cross country warm up. By the second warm up fence Otis had got himself so over excited that I had to forget about warming up and just focus on keeping him calm. My time came and we sidestepped and jig jogged around the starting box until I was allowed to go and BANG! We were off like a bat out of hell. 

I didn’t have a huge amount of control for the first three fences as Otis locked on to any jump he could see, forgetting that his navigator knew turns he didn’t know about. Rather wildly, we rapped the log pile at number three and then he seemed to realise he needed to listen. It was a really enjoyable round, with him confidently taking me into and away fr fences, and clearing them easily. I did swear rather loudly at him when he took a stride out of the corner and jumped the wider part – I think I heard the jump judge laugh.

I was really pleased that Otis managed the final uphill easily and had petrol in the tank at the end. He must be getting fitter as usually I’ve got to eek as much out of him as possible for the final stretch, and he takes a long while to recover his normal respiration and heart rates. 

We were one of only a handful inside the time, which was a definite plus for the day.

So as you can see a ODE is full of ups and downs. Showjumping was particularly expensive for us on the weekend as, had we gone clear, we would have been second! Even with one or two down we would still be in the top ten, but with twelve faults we had to settle for fifteenth place.

It is onwards and upwards though, Otis jumped well this morning before the sun was up, and I’ll try and get to a couple more jumping lessons and competitions in before the next ODE so that it’s not such a glaringly weak spot.

My weekend reminded me slightly of a friends graceful slide down from his mountain. He was competing for his riding club and was in the lead after dressage, with a brilliant score of 24 or something, and then rode clear showjumping.  In the lead, they had a confident, fast, but accurate cross country round until the final fence … Where they fell! Sliding right down the ranks, he wasn’t very pleased. Kicking himself, in fact. It wasn’t a complex fence, but they’d seen the wrong stride and crashed. So let that be a lesson, the competition isn’t over until it’s over!

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