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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Gatcombe horse trials

Gatcombe park was bathed in sunshine this autumn, and there was a nice cut in the ground.  A great venue and fantastic conditions  always provides the best way to enjoy eventing, for horse and spectator alike.

I had four horses competing across the weekend, and to kick us off was Duke of Axbridge in the Intermediate class.

We’ve worked incredibly hard on Dukes flat work, playing around with different training methods and regimes, and it seems to be paying off.  He put in a great performance putting us in a very competitive position.

The show jumping was not over big, but was still catching its fair share of people out.  Duke had a couple rubs around the course, but left all of the jumps up for a welcome clear round.

The cross country was jumping fairly well but the time appeared quite tight to achieve.  I decided with the going being so good, and Duke positioned in a competitive place after show jumping that we would pin our ears back and have a good crack at the optimum time.

Duke enjoys galloping, and the introduction to the course offered a good opportunity to do so, and settle in to a strong rhythm.  I have to say, Duke gave me a super ride, he boldly took on the big fences, and sensitively listened to me through the combinations, especially through the woods where you have to nimbly work your way along a narrow path in and out of the trees.

We jumped through the water fence well, and Duke had plenty of petrol left in the tank to gallop home.  With one eye on the clock I pulled back the throttle, and we didn’t waste a second in the last stretch of the course.  We crossed the finish line having incurred 4.8 time penalties, one of the quickest rounds of the day.

Duke was rewarded for his bravery, winning the class by a fair margin.  This was a huge achievement for Duke as it was his first win of his career, and it also gave his owner and breeder, Liz Scott her first win.

Saturday was Novice day, and I had three horses to compete.

Storm Blue was doing his second Novice, and once again he put in a good performance in the dressage for a 31.5.

Blue caught sight of the cross country whilst in the show jumping warm up, and gave me an exuberant ride around the course.  He was jumping everything  massive, which felt great, but he jumped the planks so big in front, he tapped them with his hind legs for 4 faults.  I’m sure as he settles in to his new eventing career, these little mistakes will disappear.

To say that Blue enjoyed the cross country would be an understatement!  I set off fairly steady so he could pick up a confident rhythm, and increased the pace as we commenced.  He gave me a fantastic foot perfect round which put the biggest smile on my face as I crossed the finish line.  This horse is such a star for the future, he is officially a total ‘Dude’.

EWW’s 5yr old, LVS Stonehavens Quebec was contesting her first Novice.  This was intended to be an educational experience, with our main attention focussed on the 5yr old championships next month at Osberton.

Once again, she produced an elegant dressage test for an impressive 26.8.

She popped around the show jumping for an unlucky 4 faults.  She jumped big over the oxer in to the double and left herself a little flat footed to jump out.  This was a total green mistake where to much effort can get you in to a muddle, but who can be disappointed with someone being over enthusiastic, I’d rather that than not.

I don’t think I even noticed that we had stepped her up a level here.  She cantered around the course as if she had been eventing all her life.  This horse has such a brilliant attitude towards life, it’s a pleasure to be producing her.

Spypark Ferro XS performed a fantastic dressage test to put us in pole position with a score of 24.

He warmed up for the show jumping well, but the atmosphere seemed to excite him when he went in the main arena.  He was clearly feeling very fit, and slightly took control at times around the show jump course.  He definitely proved what a careful jumper he is by producing a super clear round from what was not one of my most stylish performances.

Well.  Being in the lead going in to the cross country, there was only one thing on my mind, WINNING!  It was only his third Novice, but the ground was good, and he was feeling great.  I set off confidently, and Spypark Ferro was well on-board with my intentions.  He flew around the course, showing fantastic agility through the twisty combinations, and bravely taking on the big bold fences.

I think this was a huge step for this horse, showing us that he has got all the attributes to be successful.  He is going to be a huge contender in future seasons, and I’m thrilled to be riding him.

Another win!!

Whatley Manor hotel kindly sponsored this class, and the winners received a complimentary spa day for.  Spypark Ferro’s owner Sarah Boon very generously gave this gift to us in return for all the hared work involved in producing these results.  Thank you very, very much Sarah.

What a great show.  All is happy at Team Bragg!

West Wilts horse trials

With my 5yr olds being balloted from west wilts, I had two horses contesting in the Novice classes, and Bonmahon Blue Mist competing in his second 4yr old class.

EWW’s The Night Traveller was my first ride of the event, and he kicked off with his usual solid and accurate dressage test for a score of 27.

The show jumping was taking several prisoners, and an oxer placed on the far side of the arena seemed to be catching most horses out.  We were not to fall victim of this, and The Night Traveller jumped an immaculate clear.

We were in a commanding position going into the cross country, but the plan was to have a flowing round over what was a twisty course.

There were a double of brushes leading you into the water.  The brush fences hid the water, and as the horses jumped the second fence the water seemed a huge surprise to most.  A few fences along were another double of brushes on a mound.  These were very inconspicuous, but seemed to cause a few problems.  I’m certain it was that the horses were worried there was another surprise lurking behind the second brush as with the water combination.  This This shows how a course can have an effect on horses perception, and confidence as they progress around it.  This is something that riders need to be aware of, especially when they are riding younger less experienced horses.

The Night Traveller gave me nice ride around for a few a good clear with a few time penalties.  I was very pleased with his 5th place finish.

Storm Blue was contesting his first Novice.  He recorded a good dressage which filled me with confidence for the future.

He is a great show jumper, but did fall victim to the highlighted oxer on the far side of the arena.  Whether it was the distraction of the cross country view that you received on the approach I’m not sure, but he had a light rub on the front rail for 4 faults, in what was otherwise a super round.

Blue took on the cross country in style.  He relished the challenge in the more technical combinations, and skipped around the course for fun.  This horse is one of the most enjoyable horses to ride.  He has such a willing attitude, and is so adjustable.  He will shorten and turn without wasting any time, and is bold enough to take on the fences at speed.  A definite future junior event horse!!

He finished just outside the placings in 11th, but I was thrilled with his performance.

Kelly Roe’s 4yr old, Bonmahon Blue Mist was far more relaxed in the dressage warm up with this being his second event.  The weather was deteriorating quickly, yet he stayed very focussed.  He tried his very best in the dressage, in what was rapidly becoming a very slippy arena.  He was well rewarded with a score of 27.8, a huge improvement from his first outing.

He show jumped well, just having one fence down due to spook at an ornamental flower display.  We must forgive him these mistakes as he is so inexperienced.

The rain was thrashing down as we left the start box on the cross country, yet he cantered around the course full of confidence.  He seemed to have learnt so much from his first run at Homme House, and settled in the course straight away.  I can only describe his round as foot perfect, look out for this boy at Badminton in a few years!!

We went home with his first rosette of which I’m sure will be many in the future.

Homme House Horse Trials

This was our first trip to Homme House, and I was very excited as it was the first event for Kelly Roe’s super talented 4yr old, Bonmahon Blue Mist.

The dressage area was great.  All the arenas were on level ground, and there was plenty of warm up.  I liked the cross country courses.  They were suitable for young horses, and I think they had done well to use the terrain as best as possible so to make it interesting.

The only disappointing area was the show jumping ring.  The warm up was wonderfully level, and plenty big enough, yet the main arena was very small, and on undulating ground.  Maybe not the best for very young horses??

The first day had me running my two 5yr olds in the BE100 and Spypark Ferro XS in the Novice.

Spypark Ferro performed a fab dressage test, showing much more engagement and self carriage.

He show jumped well, just unfortunately putting his back feet down a bit early over the oxer in the middle of the treble, tapping the back rail off for 4 faults.

Another steady cross country round, due to the ground, resulted in a nice clear.

This horse is growing in confidence with each event, and showing rapid improvement.  I can’t wait for some rain so I can run him competitively!

Bloomfield Tiger Two was balloted from the 5yr old section, so I managed to run him in a regular BE100.  He executed a balanced, accurate dressage test for another competitive mark.  He doesn’t have the biggest movement, but he is very correct, very rideable, and super good looking.  I think his marks will improve as the tests become more difficult and require all of his strengths more.

He showed improvement in the show jumping, although still jumping a little green, his concentration had definitely got better.

The cross country went well, all be it with Tiger jumping everything twice as big as necessary.  We incurred a few time penalties, which were more than expectable for a young horse and we were rewarded with a good placing in what was a very competitive section.  Had he been up against other young horses, I think he would have been a bit more successful.

LVS Stonehavens Quebec was my final ride of the day.  She is super talented in the dressage, and her beautiful paces shone through.  We all had to take a second look at the score board when we read the mark.  She earned a score of 13.3, my best ever mark to date.

As she was in the qualifying class, the pressure was on not to make a mistake.  She jumped a clinical clear show jumping which left us clearly in the lead before the cross country.

Off we set, and in her true style she wasn’t phased by anything.  She gave me a great ride, popping through all of the combinations with precision.  She is a big young horse and it was hard to go really fast.  The course was twisty and the terrain was very undulating which made it hard to get into a big open rhythm.  Never the less we were clear, but with a few time penalties.

Our round was still good enough for the win.  All of the young horses were incurring time penalties, and with our leading dressage score it was a confident victory.

This was a great Birthday present.  My personal best dressage score, a win and a qualification for the 5yr old championships.  Happy days!!

Day two’s main focus was on the 4yr old qualifier.  It was Bonmahon Blue Mist’s first event but we were hoping his talent would shine through.

He was a little excited to be at the show, and it did take me a while to settle him in the dressage warm up.  He did start to concentrate and we were ready to have a go for real.  We entered the competition area, and as I walked passed the first flower pot, which he found a bit scary, the judge obviously thought that this was a great point to usher me into the arena by beeping her horn.  Very sympathetic!!

He wasn’t quite sure why a vehicle should be parked so close to arena, and that did make that end of the arena a bit tricky to ride in.  When he was in the middle of the arena he performed some great work, but his mark was effected by this inconsistency.

The theme ran through the rest of the event, and Bonmahon Blue Mist found the likes of the photographer in the show jumping ring very suspicious.  This is something that is expected with young horses, and I tried to keep reassuring him, and not put any pressure on him regarding his performance.

We set off cross country, and popped fence one nicely, then when approaching fence two I’m not sure if he thought he was getting way to far away from the lorry and we had a brief navigational problem.  I quickly rectified this, and we were off in a great rhythm.  He popped around the course with ease, and it was the first time I’d felt the power of his engine as we travelled up the hill.

This show was best put down to experience.  There were moments of hugely promising work but we had too many mistakes for a good result today.

The final horse of the show was The Night Traveller.  He was returning to competition after a short break recovering from a mild muscle strain.

In his true style he performed a super dressage test for a score of 21, which led his section.

He is so consistent in this phase, as in the show jumping where he popped around the course as if we were still warming up.

With his level of experience now, I knew I could take all of the shortest lines across the country to try and make the time.  We set off with intent and he didn’t disappoint.  We had a foot perfect round, not wasting an inch anywhere for a fantastic clear inside the time.  We were unbeatable!!

This was my second win of the show, and I was very pleased for Jess Crocker asboth were on EWW horses.  A job well done!!

Birthday drinks to celebrate the wins!!

Wilton Horse Trials

Wilton house looked stunning in sunshine while the horse trials ran with in its estate.  The cross country courses were much the same as previous years.  The steps down, positioned where the terrain falls away, and the water jumps were definitely the toughest questions.  They were going to require brave horses, and accurate riding, and were sure to provide plenty of entertainment for the viewing public.

I had four rides throughout the day.  One at Novice level, and three Intermediates.

Spypark Ferro XS, was contesting his first Novice.  He performed a good dressage test, it did contain a few green mistakes, but showed huge promise.

He was nice and relaxed in the show jumping, and jumped very well over a technical enough course.

The plan was to take it steady around the cross country.  The first reason was because the ground was on the firmer side, and he is a big, young horse.  The second was that it was his first event at this level, and we wanted him to have plenty of time to work the more technical questions out, and take the whole experience in.

We incurred one little blip in what was a very good round.  The course designer had you coming down a set of steps, which on landing the ground ran away rapidly, here you were asked to turn across the slope and jump a skinny.  Spypark Ferro XS listened extremely well and steadied right back when we came down the steps, as I turned towards the skinny, I think he almost thought we had finished and didn’t lock on to the fence.  On our second approach, we jumped it with ease.  It was more of a frustrating error, than a naughty mistake.

Apart from this, it was a good day for him.

My Intermediate horses all tried hard in the dressage.

Duke of Axbridge had an off day in the show jumping, I’m not sure if he was struggling with the sting in the hard ground.  I took him very slowly around the cross country because of this.

Redpath Ransome thoroughly enjoyed the show, and jumped an effortless double clear.  He breezed around the show jumping, and made the cross country feel like child’s play.  He truly showed his class today and was rewarded with a good placing.

Midnight Ash was competing in his first Intermediate.  It’s a decent step up from Novice to Intermediate, and it’s a test for any horse as to how they will cope.  It’s safe to say Ash did not even notice.  With a faultless show jumping round, Ash seemed more relaxed than ever.

We set off on the cross country and Ash was brimming with confidence.  He popped every fence with ease, and was responding like a horse with twice his experience.  This horse proves with every run just how genuine he is, and that he has the best attitude towards the sport.

I thoroughly enjoyed riding him and was so pleased to find out that he was placed in his first ever Intermediate event.  What a horse!!

A great day, at a lovely event.