On Sunday we went to Hartpury for the Area 18 Riding Club Novice Qualifiers. I have been excited/nervous about this since we were invited to do it a month or so ago as we have never done anything like it before but we had such a good day!b
I’ve been getting a bit complacent with my competition prep. recently but not this time! On Saturday I emptied my car, cleaned my tack and boots, then re-packed the car with only what I needed for the competition. It was such horrendous weather that I couldn’t do anything with Pea until the next morning. I did a bit of meditation and listened to a podcast before bed.. trying to achieve the ultimate positive mental attitude!
The extra hour (with the clock change) was a good start to Sunday and I’d left plenty of time in the morning to get Pea ready. I intended on giving her a bath but after only washing her legs and the end of the tail she was shivering and I ended up putting her turnout rug back on over her travel rug to warm her up! A quick warm sponge on the top of her neck where her white parts were a bit brown and that had to do! It was nice to have enough time to go home to get changed, while Alex fueled and pumped up the car, then we set off all still relatively calm!
I’ve only ever been to Hartpury as a spectator before and I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing when we got there. I tried to follow someone else going to get their hat tagged and passport checked but in a moment of comedy, they didn’t know where they were going but thought since I was following them that they must be right! We got there in the end and my Riding Club teammates filled me in on where everything else was going on.
Miraculously Pea hadn’t pooed all down her legs in the trailer like normal and she was surprisingly calm so getting her ready in the beautiful sunshine was actually pretty nice! Did I mention that we parked right near the toilets so I was able to go for as many panic toilet trips as I wanted?
The warm up arena posed 7 problems, two windows with bars, a window into the next door arena, a colourful banner on the wall, a very open and light exit route, a puddle of wee and a super scary mounting block. It was essentially a potential recipe for disaster but I kept my cool (quite incredibly) and we managed it. Although there were a few other coloured horses, we were the only little coloured cob team I saw, nevertheless, she looked so smart it didn’t matter. I had a bit of a second guessing panic with my canter warm up, not particularly reassured by Alex telling me I was right. It’s not that I don’t trust him..
Next, we went to the holding arena. There were more banners and distractions in there but what I was really pleased with was that we actually got in the door with no hesitations! Then it was time for the test.
When we went through the gates into the International Arena I tried to ignore everything apart from the banners and letter cones around our arena. Pea was certainly looking around at everything, taking it all in. Alex told me later that the horse in the other arena was out of the arena and on two legs so I’m glad I didn’t notice that!
I felt that the test started quite well, Prelim 7 has a nice chunk of trot work at the beginning which settled me down. The first canter strike off was incorrect but I corrected it then Pea took me completely by surprise by jumping over the white boards between K and E!!! I got her back in and tried to get back into it, feeling fairly certain I would have been eliminated for that. Our second canter wasn’t much better but we did stay in the arena! After the halt and thanking the judge I actually took a moment to look up at the banners, the lights and the viewing gallery, just thinking how amazing it was to be able to ride there.
I walked back to the trailer beaming (quite a change from two weeks ago) even though I thought I was eliminated and even though it hadn’t really gone to plan! Alex said he was impressed so that meant a lot AND Pea was still super chilled which was amazing.
When I went to get my sheet I discovered I hadn’t been eliminated (if you leave the arena and the boards are at intervals you are ok). I got 60.22% which is lower than I was aiming for but at least I was in the 60s and I didn’t come last! The constructive comments were nothing that I didn’t already know I needed to work on so that was good too.
I’m so grateful to ERC for having me and it has filled me with confidence to go to other ‘posh’ venues!