Little and large
StarDom, V.I.P Vino and Ballycoog Breaker Boy all went to West Wilts on Tuesday. This is the first time we have had 3 on the same day and for the first time we had a groom, Alexus, to help us. As it turned out we could have done it on our own as the times were good but it was good experience to work with someone else and allowed Mum and Dad to watch and relax and enjoy their horses for once although their performances weren’t great!!! I came home feeling it was a below average day but did take some positives from it.
5 year old StarDom, our smallest horse at 16.2h, was performing his first ever event and started the day with an early dressage at 8.10am. We had requested this as when we booked him in he could be very sharp and we thought it best to have the quietest time for him. Behaviour wise we actually couldn’t fault him, he was very chilled and wasn’t fazed by anything despite the fact that we were parked by the XC warm up area and the horses went straight past the lorry every couple of minutes. His dressage was a sweet test and mistake free but his balance and lack of strength showed which was to be expected and he just needs to lengthen his frame and have more self carriage. This will come as he develops. He jumped well in the Show jumping but unfortunately I lost the engagement from behind coming into the last combination so he had one down. I should have shortened the approach enabling him to be more connected. XC he was so confident and bold without being strong. In time he will have a great gallop and really cover the ground.
V.I.P Vino sadly couldn’t replicate the 22 that he got at Smiths Lawn as he felt tense as soon as I walked into the warm up area having been very chilled at the lorry. I do wonder what they remember as the last time, 2 years ago, he was there it was a very stressful situation. He improved as the warm up progressed and he didn’t do anything wrong in the test he was just a little tight over the back therefore not allowing him to be supple. This carried through to the show jumping and classic…… we had the first fence down!! We didn’t run him XC as decided before the competition as he was to compete at Somerford at the weekend and his back is not strong enough yet to compete XC that close together.
Ballycoog Breaker Boy, our gangly giant, was next and continued his form this year with finding the small arena very difficult to manoeuvre in and keep his balance - the joys of big horses. Well, less said about the show jumping the better. He had jumped so well last week but sadly this form didn’t continue to West Wilts. He will be inconsistent until his body has stopped growing! He is 6 now so very hopeful this will be soon but Gavin our osteopath thinks that there will still be a couple more mm!!! XC continues to improve and I couldn’t fault him for effort.
Wednesday was washing from West Wilts to make sure everything was clean and dry before leaving on Thursday for Somerford International. Luckily the weather was with us and we soon had everything repacked in boxes ready to go into the lorry on Thursday morning. Thursday weather wasn’t with us so we did everything we could to get ready waiting for the rain to pass through - there is nothing worse than everything going into the lorry unnecessarily wet. Mum Plaited Vino ready for the first one in on Friday am in the CIC* and the tips she had from Alexus meant she nailed the plaiting!! We left pretty much on time with a frustrating journey and an over excited V.I.P Vinnie in the back who knew what the crack was!!!! Dad Mum and I had the horses settled in, lorry sorted and new Gazebo up in an hour and a half - slick team work!
Somerford International Dressage Day
All the horses performed really well and I was so chuffed with all of them. V.I.P Vino, in the CIC*, warmed up unbelievably and Mum heard some nice comments from others watching. This is always nice to hear as an owner. Sadly, 1 major mistake where he broke in his first counter canter and it took a while to sort was very costly. Other than that he just needed to relax a little more - with more arena exposure this will come and his test will be stunning. He was beaten by his stable mate Ballycoog Breaker boy which was unexpected. He put in a really good solid mistake free test and again in time will get some serious marks.
V.I.P Vinnie was having his first run since Houghton at the end of May and he was a happy chappy and tested me in the warm up. He knuckled down and did a pretty nice test with 2 mistakes: the first in the first halt where he thought he was an ostrich and wanted to check everyone was watching him and then I didn’t get it right for the second half pirouette. He finished the best of the day with a score of 26.80 with Mark Todd leading from the first day on 26.30. We both stayed in these positions following the 3rd day of competition after 138 competitors.
Saturday was day off but this is never really the case!!! The horses were all ridden by 10am and then we walked the 2* course which was as always presented so well and the ground is good condition. I was really looking forward to riding round it as I have ridden it before and it flows very well and there are fair challenges evenly spread throughout the course. We then had to have lunch at the Pizza stand!! - they are seriously good and always a must at Somerford. We watched the BE100 Show Jumping while we ate them and some of it was quite scary to watch as some of the horses were definitely in charge!!! We did manage to have a quiet hour after this before hand grazing again which we did a lot of throughout the weekend as the horses are used to having 3 or 4 activities a day at home. (walker, field, ridden and sometimes walker again).
Sunday was to be a busy day with all three horses SJ and XC and I walked the 1* xc course. The times weren’t too bad but there was a close hand over between Vino’s XC and William’s SJ. This wouldn’t have been a problem but they share the same saddle!!! Vinnie jumped a very solid round until the classic last fence!!! I was livid that this happened and having looked back at the videos it looks as though we weren’t in the right balance coming out of the turn before the fence. I was gutted as this dropped us way out of the placings. It was good to have Vinnie out XC again and cruising round although at times he did jump a little big as he is used to jumping bigger fences.
Vino and Ballycoog Breaker Boys 1* jumping was in the afternoon so we managed to have a quick lunch with my Grandparents who had come up for the day to support me. Vino tried so hard and was definitely on side and giving his all and not wanting to touch the poles but sadly his hind legs brought down 4 fences, he really didn’t deserve this but it was a big track and this is his weakest phase. XC he was unbelievable and I couldn’t fault him. Ballycoog Breaker Boy finished the day off well by doing a double clear - we thought he might have some SJ down but again he tried so hard and was reward for his efforts. He then produced a clear XC although a little unbalanced at times and we went steadily round as this was to be an educational round.
On paper the results don’t look great but they all produced performances that I was very pleased with and the 2 younger horses will have learnt a lot from the weekend.
A huge thank you must go to everyone who was part of the Somerford team and volunteers. It has always been one of my favourite events and continues to be so. The facilities for staying there for both horse and rider are excellent. I look forward to returning there next year.