Madison: Shows, training and more shows!
I think we can all agree 2020 has not been a great year so far for most of us, with Covid wiping out over 4 months worth of shows (and still going). Despite this, I am turning out to be having a pretty good end of the year. It is almost as if the horses want to catch up on everything they have missed.
So it has now been over a month since my HorseQuest lesson with William Funnell and what a month it has been! Firstly we started off at Anvil Park Stud which is one of our local venues, to jump the Newcomers (1.10m) and the Foxhunter (1.20m) with Oliver and the 1m with Magic. Magic started off with a nice clear in the 1m, we just went for a steady clear so no placing but a good start to the season. Oliver then had a lovely clear in the 1.10, even adding a few shorter turns in the jump off! He’s only 6 and being 18hh, short turns are still quite hard and unfamiliar to him but he is proving to be quite good at them. We ended up 5th and this was also our first clear for next year's second rounds. We then had a trip after one of the jumps in the 1.20 which meant i had to do a circle but he was jumping amazing and really going forward for me which has been my aim since our lesson. I did a voice over for my rounds over on my youtube;
After this we were off to Keysoe and their lovely big outdoor arena to again jump the Newcomers and Foxhunter with Oliver. By this point we seem to be getting the idea of going forward and shorter turns and we only go and win the Newcomers after a fast clear! This was only his 2nd ever win too, I think we can definitely say he is growing up! We then had 2 fences down in the 1.20, still getting to grips with this new forward way of riding but definitely on the right track.
We then had two weeks off competitions and decided what better time to crack down and get some training down, which is usually hard to fit in between shows but so important to not forget! With indoor season rapidly approaching us and with a big horse like Oliver we decided we could definitely do with some indoor training. Luckily for us we are just down the road from Forest Edge Arena with a nice big indoor and thanks to my HorseQuest bursary I could hire it a few times. I am really trying to push both myself and the horses in training, we have to remember that if we can’t do it in training you aren't likely to be able to do it at a competition either. With Magic we are just focusing on building up her fitness and trying to bring her up the classes again and then Oliver we are just trying to step him up to the next level height wise (1.30m) and then keep building on the reaction to my aids. Both horses were jumping really well, I won’t say any of the rounds were perfect because they weren't, and if they are perfect in training you probably aren't pushing yourself hard enough. It is much better to focus on both the larger problems and the small tweaks in training rather than in the warm up at a show!
Feeling well prepared for the indoor season, we had our first indoor competition at Forest edge 2 weeks ago after already getting in some training there. I brought along Magic for the 1.05m and Oliver for the 1.20m. Magic started off the day by flying around with a fast clear in the 1.05m and despite me almost falling off in the jump off won the class! As she is an older horse it has taken her longer to get back into the excitement of shows after lockdown compared to the younger ones like Oliver but she was definitely enjoying it this show so hopefully she's back into the flow of things now. Next up was Oliver in the fox/1.20m and he didn't want to be any worse than Magic! Despite a bit of a chaotic warmup, with him in the air 99% of the time and me almost flying off several times we managed to pull it together when it counted. After a very good and fast (not on purpose) clear we came away with another win! We weren't going for any speed or short turns but on a day when he is feeling very fresh and with his already massive stride it doesn't take much for us to get a good jump off time. This was our first clear in 1.20 of the year so to win the class as well was amazing! Went to sleep feeling very happy and grateful after this day.
We all like to hear about the lows and highs so I’ll be honest and say the next competition didn't go too well.. So the weekend that has just been we were off to the Jays to jump the fox (1.20m) and the 1.30m(!!), which was only my second ever 1.30 i have jumped. Now the show started off great and we were jumping around the 1.20 in what probably would've been our best and fastest round to date. We just had a single line left with the 2 remaining fences, when Oliver spooked at something in the corner. I was already coming in on a short turn as it was the jump off so for him then to cut the corner even more after spooking didn't leave us much room. Now thinking back if i were sensible i should've pulled out and circled and come to the fence again but being in the moment you just want to get over the fence. Anyway it ended up with me on the floor and Oliver looking at me wondering why we didn’t finish the course. I was so annoyed as i knew we would have definitely been placed if not won! But this was just one of these things that are bound to happen every now and again, especially with a young horse. Not the best warm up for our biggest class to date, the 1.30m. I just went in with no expectations and just wanted to get round in one piece, which we did. 2 poles and a refusal (same jump i fell off at) but for a 6 year old I have produced myself both jumping the biggest class we ever have, I can’t be too upset.
So overall we are having a pretty good end to 2020, with still 4 months to go! This weekend we leave for the Arena UK Festival for a week of competing. I’ll be bringing Magic and Oliver and my sister will also be coming with her horse Harley. Very excited for our first stay away, even though it is in September rather than April like originally planned. Fingers crossed for continued good results and maybe i’m even brave to try the Newcomers second rounds that we have qualified for!