WE DID IT! The first event of the season! And it was FANTASTIC!
It was a relatively early start. The alarm going off at 5:40am in order to roll out of bed into clothes, pick up pre-packed food and bags to get to the stables for 5:55am. Storm – by some miracle – managed to keep in his plaits and stay stain free. The joys of keeping a pure grey (white) pony clean. It really is a full-time job.
So, after triple-checking everything we set off. Just over 2 hours later we arrived at Oasby. I haven’t been to this particular venue before. Located near Grantham, Nottinghamshire – it is an area full of flat fields and beautiful countryside with little picture postcard cottages in villages along the route.
We left Storm happily munching a small amount of hay in the box while I went to walk the course. On a side-note. It has taken him lots of time to be comfortable in our box. He is very sensitive to change and in his previous home, he travelled facing forwards. In ours he faces backwards. He didn’t like it at all to start with but now he is like a little lamb and seems to not mind it at all.
Walking the course was exciting but I did feel I might have slightly thrown myself in at the deep end. Maybe I should have done a BE80 for my first go. The fences felt chunky but not technical. I forced positive thoughts into my head and good feelings of confidence and remembering how fantastic Storm is. It was a long and flat course. Lots of galloping opportunities. Course time – 4 minutes, 25 seconds.
And into the dressage we went. It was bedlam! The warm up area – although large – was insane! I am lucky Storm stays quite calm and chilled in such situations because there were horses EVERYWHERE! I felt a little sorry for some people whose horses were leaping about and getting very rilled up. So grateful for my never-changing super pony.
We did a good test. My riding could have been better but overall I can’t believe how much he has improved from when I first got him. Our score of 33 was excellent! I was so pleased. I thought the judges might have not liked him as he seemed to carry himself a little higher than normal but he was soft and supple. A great starting score for the rest of the day.
On to the showjumping. It was somehow a mad rush. I was early for my time slot and had about half an hours worth of people to go before me, but in the name of efficiency, seeing I was early and there weren’t too many people in the practice ring, they boosted me way up the board so little Storm only had time to canter round a few times and pop the practice fences a few times before going in! Luckily it had been a relatively quick change from his dressage so he was still nice and warmed up. He gave me a brilliant round. He jumped well and was careful, until I rocketed a turn back corner and poor pony had no chance and caught it with his front legs. It was 100% my error, I should have sat up and steadied rather than thinking of the time allowed. I didn’t feel too bad about it because the error was so obviously mine. Apart from my unfortunate mishap, it was a great round of showjumping.
Then it was the bit we all go for. The Cross- Country test. I felt an amazing amount of focus as we got ready. I just wanted to go and do it. I had adrenaline coursing through me and Storm knows the routine of eventing and knows that after the short jumping bit comes the long, fast jumping bit. His favourite. We got on and went to the warm up which always puts me at ease. Before we knew it, we were heading to the start box and walking round behind it ready to go. 3…2..1…GO! That pony set of from a standstill to a flat gallop so fast I almost lost my balance backwards. He charged at the first fence and I had to sit up tall and ‘woah’ so we didn’t go barrelling over it. He quickly settled into a fast canter rhythm and after the first 3 fences I felt like we were flying. He galloped so quick along the long galloping bits. He jumped his socks off and loved it. I even managed to jump a corner quite well for the first time. A fabulous easy round for him. He is the best pony! Of course I am biased but he just felt unreal, like if I’d pointed him at the bigger BE100 or BE Novice fences he would have done it. However, my error again – he got 3 time faults! At the start he set off with such a woosh and I had to focus on slowing for the first fence I couldn’t press my stopwatch on time. So consequently it wasn’t showing the correct time so I just had to estimate my times. Now normally Storm flies round and we have to slow right down at the finish or we are under the time by 15 seconds which incurs time penalties the other way. So the last 3 jumps I sauntered a bit. And we ended up OVER the time by 3 seconds! Again, silly, silly me. It only added up to an extra 1.20 penalties but I felt so stupid. Not at all disappointed. We had completed a great round in flying form and again, the error was all mine. Next time I will make certain my stopwatch gets working though.
I have loved my first event of the season. This is what I live for. Overall in my section I ended up coming 4th which was so unexpected and incredible. What a fantastic start to the season. I am so proud of Storm and all the hard work we have put in over the winter training. I am such a lucky girl 🍀 and I cannot wait for the next one!