But we finally we made it to a One Day Event!
Bright and early Sunday morning I was loading up the car with an extortionate amount of gear, dragging fat sleepy ponies in from the field, and armed with a new bag of plaiting bands I set to plaiting the Mare's mane.
We had a short journey up the road and managed to get there at 8am, ready for dressage at 8.57am.
The dressage warm up was lovely and big, but full of horses! There were 3 arenas currently on the go, so 3 x the amount of horses I'd expected! Being grass it wasn't flat, and round the outside were some lovely dips and slopes, which was ideal to get the Mare paying attention to what we were doing. She was lovely and calm too. The test itself was a bit of a dog's dinner. When under pressure I tend to ride a bit with the handbrake on, so the test was a bit stilted, no real flow to it at all, and I didn't feel particularly in control during the canters. However, we got a score of 40.42 which put us about middle after the dressage.
Quick swap of bits, front boots and hunting breastplate on and we went to the showjumping warm up. We had a bit of a trot around, jumped all of the warm up jumps then came out for a wander around the lorry park. My husband and kids arrived at this point and settled themselves by the showjumping ring to watch.
The showjumping was causing quite a few problems. It was in a large ring, but was a very twisty and tight course with very little room to turn. Competitors were getting eliminated and knocking up huge cricket scores.
I had another trot around the warm up, jumped the upright from the other rein and then waited for the one in front of me to finish.
Our round was very messy. I think we got every jump on a bad stride, coming back to trot between for the turns. But despite hitting the planks pretty hard, we finished clear with just one time fault. More luck than judgement I feel!
Back to the trailer for a drink and clothing change. I was shaking at this point, whether from nerves, adrenaline or lack of food I have no idea, but it was unnerving.
Off we went to the xc warm up (sporting a lime green shirt - no blending in for me!) Getting there I was told I could go whenever I was ready. The warm up was blissfully empty so I had a good canter round letting her stretch and encouraging longer strides, then popped a xc warm up fence and I felt ready to go. We were only doing the 2'6" so the first few jumps were very small.
The first half of the course she was a bit green, looking at things, jumping awkwardly, a bit unsure of things. By the time we got to the ditch the far side of the course I was unsure how it was going to be honest, would she settle and enjoy herself, or was I going to have to baby her round the whole way?
We had a bit of a fight going into the ditch. She was trying to lock onto the rail, while I was busy trying to get her back to trot to go round the rail (that was for the next class) She stopped at the ditch unsure of what to do about it. I let her look, gave her a pat and made encouraging noises while she dithered. Still nothing, so I gave her a smack behind my leg. This seemed to make her switch her brain on, she pricked her ears and hopped over it and the little roll top a few strides after. After that it was like riding a different horse! The strides got longer and more powerful, the jumps less hesitant and she powered home. The water, skinny brush and corner were all fine. So despite our hesitation at the ditch we were clear, and without time penalties. Such a clever pony!
We had a rather leisurely lunch sat on the trailer ramp at 11am, while the sun shone and the Mare nibbled hay and dozed. It had been a lovely day.
Took the Mare home for a well deserved dinner and turnout, got everything unloaded and put away and returned to the showground for the results.
7th! Out of 27 competitors! So pleased. Our dressage sheet was detailed too which I like. We had got 7's for our canter work and free walk, but 5's for the tense and hollow transitions. Very fair and something I feel I can improve for next time.
So plans include working on the flatwork to aim for a dressage score in the 30's next time, working on maintaining the canter through the sj to get a better jump and hopefully no time faults, and getting the Mare switched on a bit sooner during the xc. All things that are perfectly achievable. I have put our name down for the Riding Club Horse Trials team too - fingers crossed!