SuperCob’s season review (Part two) – Taking the highs with the lows.
So here we go…
In my last blog I talked about setting a goal to complete my first BENovice- to recap, we absolutely smashed that goal with an amazing run at Alnwick Ford. The second part of this season review is less about cruising around cross country having the time of my life, and more about learning lessons and taking the good with the bad- we are taking about horses after all!!
Following the success of our Novice debut, I excitedly entered our second Novice at Forgandenny a few weeks later. I had competed in the BE100 there at the start of the year and walked the Novice track while I was there - at that point it was a kind, confidence giving course so I thought it would be perfect for a second run. Boy, was I wrong!
As it is now mid-season and the second Forgandenny fixture of the 2017 calendar, it made sense that the course would have evolved, but I was not expecting such a dramatic difference! However, I walked the course and actually wasn’t too worried about anything, after all, my SuperCob was a cross country machine and had never (yes, never) had a stop cross country! This was my first mistake: I underestimated the course and was over confident in our/my ability.
The dressage was tense but we nailed the medium trot this week (he has impressed both Ian Stark and Oli Townend in the past with his unexpected extensions, so I was disappointed when he broke into canter at our first Novice) and got one out of the two haults as square as you like so I was pleased.
He show jumped like a dream!! Just tapped the front pole on a maaassive spread and then I buggered up the final treble which landed us on 8 faults again but his rhythm was spot on so I was on cloud nine once again- off we go to the cross country!
I hadn’t worn my Optimum time watch at my first Novice as I didn’t want to push him, but rather stay at the pace we were comfortable at. I put my watch on this time: this was my second mistake.
A quick warm up and a few jumps and I was ready with just two to go ahead of me. Unfortunately, there was then a long hold up on course (horse and rider were both okay) which probably didn’t help my concentration but we were soon in the start box and counting down. He took the first four fences beautifully and I got cocky and let my competitive nature take over and I started to chase the time. This was my third mistake.
We came to the first real test on the course- a big Trakehner then a full ‘S’ turn back on yourself to a house, short one stride, ditch, to a skinny on the hill. We hopped over the Trakehner easily and I heard my watch bleep- I was up on my minute marker!! To excited and wanting to stay up on the time I cut the corner and lost all momentum. I knew three strides out it was never going to happen as I had no stride whatsoever. I patted him and said sorry and came back to it; over the house and an almighty leap over the ditch put us waaay off our stride to the skinny, so there’s another 20 penalties. I gave him time and hopped over the skinny but it wasn’t long until the next fence so I had to make the decision to either pull myself together and ride properly or call it a day; clearly half-assing it wasn’t going to work!
The next few fences were big and boxy but straightforward, so I decided to run him over these to ensure he hadn’t lost his confidence. He jumped the next five fences, including a double of skinnies on a downwards slope, like they were BE90 so I carried on but soon came face to face with the water. It was a big log in followed by a double of angled brushes that looked to me like they would be more at home on a 2* track, not a Novice!! He dropped in with confidence but I didn’t get my shit together in time for the first brush and it just wasn’t going to happen. And it didn’t happen. I put my hand in the air, gave him a pat and started my very first (ever) walk of shame.
Had I not ridden like a lemon and gained us the first stop, I firmly believe none of the other stops would have happened. As Harry Meade repeatedly said at the Europeans, I used up a life and knocked our confidence. However, to put it in context just how testing the track was, only 10 people in our section got to the finish line. That’s not with a clear round, only ten people actually finished!!
On paper, the round was a disaster, but I was actually really pleased with my day. I felt embowered and determined to get better and I knew exactly what I needed to work on to improve my riding at this level. Yes, I was annoyed at myself for letting my dear old SuperCob down, but he showed me that he has all the scope in the world and will try his heart out for me, even when I forget how to ride. I was excited and desperate for the next run to redeem myself and give him that second successful Novice run he so deserves!
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to rectify our Novice career this season. It is with a heavy heart I report that my poor SuperCob has been diagnosed with a hole in his Superficial Digital Flexor Tendon which marks the end of our season and the beginning of a very long, patient treatment and recovery process. It’s too soon to tell how well he will recover or whether he will ever be back out on the eventing circuit but for now I am just concentrating on keeping him as happy as possible (6 months box rest makes for a very unhappy Woody and we are only two weeks in!).
There has been ALOT of tears but although my SuperCob may have hung up his cape for now, he will always be a hero to me.
Amazing Photos by Dave Cameron Photography and Stevie Purves Photography