SuperCob's Season Review (Part One): Galloping towards our Goals
The pure excitement that fills me when “Eventing day” is coming up is like no other.
I would say it starts on the Tuesday with learning my dressage test, checking the weather for the rest of the week approximately every 30 mins and checking the events Facebook page hoping to catch a glimpse of a cross country fence. Wednesday is the ever hopefully “maybe the times will be up a day early on BDWP” day (they almost never are!). Thursday IS times day, although chances are I’ve already figured out my times by counting the riders ahead of me in the relevant sections. If I’m organised I might clean my tack on Thursday night as this is also my last riding day as SuperCob always gets the day off before an event. Again, there’s excessive Facebook/ weather checking and then onto Friday which is usually filled with more on paper dressage prep, writing a schedule and Googling directions before heading to the stables to wash, plait and prep (I don’t get much work done the Friday before I event!!).
But, alas, all ready for my final event of the season this week my excitement was snubbed out with two disasters almost simultaneously. Number one was the text from BE to say all weekend play had been cancelled due to bad weather. Cry. The second was arriving at the stables 10 minutes later to find a very sorry looking not-so-Super-Cob with a very swollen leg and hopping lame. Double/triple/quadruple cry.
My poor woods. He has had problems with this leg in the past but instead of dwelling on what disasters might loom around the corner (as I fear that would make a very depressing read), I’m going to summarise our AMAZING, albeit a little short, 2017 season.
I’ve done nine British Events this summer. We moved up to BE100 for the final two events of 2016, and after coming home with two top ten placings I decided to dive straight back in at 100 level. Woods certainly hadn’t forgotten how this eventing malarkey works, and our winter training with non-other than Olympic Medallist and all-round hero, Ian Stark, had paid off.
We did six BE100s and my little SuperCob finished with five top ten placings (four of which were top five)! He’s such a special little horse and I think people (including me sometimes) underestimate him because he’s a little bit *ahem* chunkier than your typical eventer.
His show jumping has come on leaps and bounds; he feels so confident and the rhythm comes easily. His cross country is amazing as always; he is just is so bold, so brave and he genuinely enjoys it which makes all the difference. The dressage still needs work but all the potential for an amazing test is there.
So, after six successful 100 runs, it was time. My aim this year was to complete a BE Novice, and we were ready!
I entered the Novice at new fixture, Alnwick Ford. I didn’t tell my mother in hope she wouldn’t notice the difference between pink and yellow numbers, but she was onto me and checked BDWP, so she was just as nervous as me! We arrived, I got my number, we walked the course, I visited the Portaloo several hundred times and was slightly nervous that the show jumping was on a surface as SuperCob tends to jump better on grass, but never mind, positive thoughts!!
Dressage was okay – there was reign back, leg yields, medium trot and medium canter and I was last to go (which seemed to be a theme this season!) but we survived with a respectable score of 38.0- not bad for a first Novice!
Now the dreaded show jumping!! He didn’t warm up that well (he never does indoors) and the two riders in front of me had quite a few issues. They put me into the arena too early after the rider in front had a stop and knocked the pole off so I had to come back out and wait until she was finished. They then put me back in for real this time and it took them FOREVER to ring my bell (all this was not helping the nerves!!) but after about four laps of the arena I heard the ‘BEEP’ and off I went. I got through the full up track with only two poles down and I was ecstatic! I wanted to do one of those first pumps like they do when they go through the finish at Badminton, I wanted to cry, I wanted to hug my pony and I kind of wanted to go home then and there because he had done so well, but the cross country awaited!!!
It’s a surreal experience warming up with Oliver Townend and Nicola Wilson but my SuperCob didn’t disappoint- we flew around the course, both sporting massive grins and he answered every single question perfectly to come home with a super clear round! I legit have never been so happy, there were smiles and tears and the biggest of pats for Woods.
We finished in 13th place in our very first Novice and I honestly felt like I’d won Olympic gold!! Not only had we achieved our goal of completing a Novice, but we had absolutely smashed it!!
Our second Novice wasn’t quite as successful but was probably the most important, influential and educational run of the season. But I’ve rambled on for quite long enough in this blog so I will revisit Forgandenny Novice next week in part two!
Images by Dave Cameron Photography and Stevie Purves Photography