On a bit more of an up. I took Storm to our first competition of 2017. It was to an old favourite venue of Port Royal EEC. It has two huge arenas and to suit me, one arena was holding a dressage competition and the other was holding a showjumping competition. Perfect for an eventer like me (and Storm) to practice. To cap it off, they ran the same BE dressage test I am doing next week at Oasby.
It all went rather well if I don’t say so myself. I felt Storm performed well in his dressage. It is not his favourite of the 3 phases and drops off my leg an awful lot but overall I felt pleased with his score of 66.75%. The judges comments were all very fair and described exactly what I felt had happened through the test. If we imagine that test was next week, the score – inverted to an eventer’s score – would have been 33.25 which is a fair old score for the start of the season. He also won his section – senior BE92 – but there were very few in it. I was genuinely more interested in the test sheet to see how the judge scored him and her comments but it certainly was wonderful to see a red rosette hanging onto my paper too.
The way life sometimes works out in your favour meant that by the time I had switched Storm’s tack over to his jumping gear and I had sorted myself out and got on, the class before was just wrapping up so we were able to more or less get straight on with jumping round the 0.90m class. I was a little apprehensive walking the course as I haven’t properly done one for a while with so many jumps and I haven’t competed since my last event back in October. However, I knew I was on my superstar pony and it wasn’t difficult to knock that on the head and be confidant. I was pleased it felt easy to do so actually; based on the way things went with Jazz.
We had a STORMING round 😉 (I know, I’m, too funny!), the little diamond turned up for the books and leapt round with a fabulous double clear and a surprise 4th place! As Storm is an eventer – not a showjumper – I don’t really do a proper jump off on him. We don’t accelerate or cut silly corners because he just doesn’t need to. As an venter he just needs to make sure he goes round cleanly to get a good clear round. I don’t see a lot of point revving him up and confusing him. Also he is speedy enough as it is so my aim is to keep him in a nice rhythm all the way round. I was so surprised I had already untacked him and loaded him back into the box when the announced the placings. I was thrilled and the ground staff were very gracious to let me collect my lovely green 4th on foot. Not something I like to do as I would never want it to come across as poor sportsmanship.
It is fun because Storm has such strange, non-traditional way of jumping. Particularly show jumps. Non of this rounded body bascule and elbows lower than their knees thing – if we lived in America he would be the countries worst ‘Hunter’. Over there a Hunter is a different sort of horse to a Hunter over here. It is all about correctness and technique of the horses’ jump. He keeps his neck very upright – which does make you feel secure in the saddle – and just pulls his legs up to his belly. However, he always manages to jump high enough and just seems to get the job done. It is not very photogenic but it works somehow.
It reminds me of an article I read in Horse&Hound one time with Lucinda Green who was talking about riding the great legend Opposition Buzz – the most fantastic cross country eventing horse in Great Britain during his time. She described how he threw out the jumping rule book, and with a bolt-upright neck and pulled up legs he would just fling himself into the air and the jump passed under him. Deeply unconventional but the most successful, incredible and inspirational horse to watch. It reminds me a little bit of how my Storm jumps.
Awesome, amazing pony! Roll on next weekend at Oasby!!!! Here are some shots (credit to my darling mum) of wonderpony in action.