A moment of clarity, 364 days later…

Tomorrow, one year ago, I woke up from being in a wilderness. I had been there, stuck in this limbo land for nearly 15 years. I had finally moved on, and in doing so set myself some fairly challenging goals for this year.

My hope had been that I might score in the top 10% (usually placed 1st-4th) of a BE90 to qualify for a regional final. So far, we haven’t even been in the top 13 finishers. Having started one year ago with a dressage over 35, a fence SJ and clear XC, we have had some progress, but progress does not always equate to improved scores instantly.

Our dressage is now consistently in the early to mid 30’s. We are still striving for the sub 30 that would be needed to get a qualifying result, but his work is improving and I am now riding better. We still need to improve the contact, left canter and transitions. It has taken considerable time, money and effort to reduce our scores by these 5 marks or so, but this is essential.

Our SJ is now the bit that is the difference between getting placed and not being placed. All of our ‘if onlys’ have been down to knocking either one or two poles. Our SJ is messy. It is the only phase that he is likely to nap in, so I probably over ride. I then fire him at the fences and they are only tiny. This phase needs considerable work. I have had some fab lessons where I have ridden well, and so I know what I’m hoping to achieve, but when it comes to the pressure of a competition I then completely default to type.

XC is amazing, he’s brilliant, we always end on a high. He’s actually one of the nicest XC horses I have ever ridden, and I have had some fabulous XC horses but they have pulled and he doesn’t. I obviously haven’t done any courses that are anywhere near the height that they did, but so far he has done nothing but impress me. The only penalties we have had have been for going too fast.

In another year where sadly rider fatalities are high on this phase, I appreciate that Beaus XC so far has been good. I know that accidents happen, and sadly this is the risk we all choose to take for our sport, and it’s a sport where it’s impossible to remove the risk. I didn’t feel like doing Solihull after that poor lady died there at the previous event. I decided not to enter it, and yet I always go to Sapey, knowing that a rider lost their life there a few years back. It’s hard to have perspective about the risk and it never sits comfortably with me, as I am sure many of you understand. I found Burghley hard viewing this year. It’s not the sport that we want to be involved in, for whatever reason that it happened. Too many rotational falls.

So next weekend is Monmouth and it’s fair to say that we are not as prepared as we had been earlier in the season. Returning to school and having so many things on with my children, and my husband being incredibly busy, has meant that Beaus not really had as good of a preparation. Since this situation is unlikely to improve, I have decided that the chance of keeping Beaus fitness levels high enough for another month to do Calmsden and Broadway is pretty slim, and would be unfair on him. In future years, when perhaps finances allow, I can pay for him to be worked by someone else in these months. For the meantime, I have decided not to do the October events. Nothing in the next month will improve our dressage or SJ scores, so entering these events will be a waste of time – so instead we will move to ‘plan B’.

Plan B: we need to sort our SJ. I need to improve our competition SJ. This won’t come from lessons or practising on my own. It sadly won’t even come doing UA SJ because my brain won’t consider these to be competitions. Instead I am going to use the Riding Club BS discount and do a winter of BS. What is really nice about this is that I have 3 show centres less than 40 minutes from home and 6 which are under an hour. I can pretty much pick which weekend I want to jump and find somewhere to go – I can arrange my competing around my life – unlike the Eventing which is round the other way. I have given myself some BS goals for my winter jumping and hope as a byproduct that we improve those areas needed for BE. I also have in the back of my mind that I have a horse that could probably be doing BE100 XC (and dressage), and if we were able to jump clears round 1m courses then the chance of us being able to qualify for a grassroots regional might be improved if we step up. The top 20% of scores qualify compared with 10% at BE90. The jumping is more influential too. Beau is already slightly too fast for doing 90’s. So this is where I am at. If I am jumping discovery’s by March then perhaps a couple of early BE90 runs will then lead us onto doing 100’s??? If I were being pessimistic I would be down on myself that I have spent all of this money and time and haven’t really improved my finishing position, but I am not being pessimistic. I am confident that the work we have done has laid foundations for doing bigger and better things- maybe bigger and better than I had originally planned??? So now to go and look at some show schedules 🙂

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