Friday, 24 July 2015

Day 203 & 204: The ups and downs of Dauntsey Horse Trials and Phase 1 of new project begins

Day 203: Wednesday

The ups and downs of eventing...

As long as the riders are committed and driven by progress I am very happy to drag myself out of bed at slightly uncivilised hours and make my working day rather long. Like today. I teach my Start Programme rider and then get in the car for a couple of hours journey with the eventing team of liveries/managers from Brackenhill Stud. We are heading to Dauntsey Park Horse Trials with three horses, all entered in BE100.
I am feeling quite confident about improvements in Shabby, Fig and their riders so I am really looking forward to some action!

Shabby warms up very relaxed if not flat for this dressage and we set an objective to improve the canter marks as he often loses connection and thoroughness in the test. He goes fairly sweetly and accurately, his trot work is just about satisfactory albeit worse than what he is capable of but they do indeed a better quality canter. The judges score him at 42 which I think is fair. 

Fig and Aimee warm up very well. I give them a little structure and form to the work so they can get stuck in and focus on each other. They are much quieter and more harmonious together now with Aimee’s aids becoming more refined and even though I still have a huge list of things to go through in their training, I couldn’t be happier with how she rode as we wait by the arena entrance for the final call. 

Aimee and Fig 

The test is much improved too with various glitches that we can work on but overall it reflects about 70% of what they can do at home which is good. 

Shabby warms up flat for show-jumping too but jumps well and clean not touching a rail. They go in and start well over the first oxer, he knocks the next two verticals and then jumps very well over the third, another oxer on a dog leg to a vertical. I’d been watching that line as it rode oddly putting most riders too close or too far off the vertical so I am a little worried as Shabby is way too creative for too many options to chose from. He comes in way too excited and knocks the top rail. As I automatically and quickly trace their line to the next jump, I see Shabby disappear behind the jump wings and fall launching Emma over his head. I stop filming and watch as they both struggle to get up for a moment - that kind of moment when everything feels in slow motion and even though it lasts a mere few seconds, you seem suspended in time space for an hour. 

The vets and ambulance crew come over immediately and the whole service at the event is impressive. They check Emma and Shabby over, he gets intravenous pain relief and we walk him back to the lorry park. He is slightly lame and shaken but brightens up at the trailer and gets on with eating and drinking. 

Shabby’s fall means automatic elimination for Emma so the mood is low. Once it’s clear Shabby is relaxed and happy to stay and rest, we wonder over to watch Aimee jump, they end up with 2 down and go clear XC, so is the third rider in the team Brackenhill which lifts the mood considerably. 

Dauntsey is a great event with many top riders around so plenty to watch. William Fox-Pitt rides a lovely dark bay over the 100 course which is big and bold here. I watch him over several jumps as he comes home - the horse’s canter is massive yet somewhat compact, effortless yet powerful and he is full of running upon passing the finishing line. Mental note to self: go for that in your next competition horse! Stay away from all the "problem" animals and get yourself one athletic beast!

Back home at 10pm and collapse in the pillows!

Day 204: Thursday

Today, my usual admin day becomes a teaching and a new project day…As I mentioned recently, I am working on putting together a new venture. The location is Brackenhill Stud in collaboration with Emma and Aimee who run the livery business there. Having made spontaneous decisions in the past and not always benefiting from that (quite the opposite in fact), I have spent the last several weeks thinking through the details of this venture. It made me think how, with so many start ups, successes and failures, what’s seen on the outside is just a tiny tip of an iceberg. At the end of this over a month long work behind the scenes, there will be a one new page on Aspire website with an announcement that will hopefully bring a very exciting opportunities to a rider or two :) 

In between today’s lessons, we are ticking off the things we want shown on a video I am making for the page. The video that has an important task of not only introducing what we have been working on but also somehow relay the atmosphere, feelings, dreams and goals…I feel the pressure! 

Filming with Merehead and Aimee (left) and Emma and Repo (right) at Breckenhil Stud

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