Area 12 Horse Trial Qualifiers .... another one bites the dust!

4 June 2022

I was soooo excited about doing the Area 12 Horse Trials this year. The course looked fair, I know we're easily capable of doing an 80cm ODE. The dressage practice had gone well, I'd had a good pre course jump even popping my own created skinny T - a bit like the old barrel jumps.

We had early times, so the alarm went off at 5am and I woke up, feeling really positive. I felt like this year Fred and I would really come into our own. He likes Pontispool, I know we're able to make the time, confident in the jumping. I had my calming cookies ready and we'd had a quite week in the run up to the show so that he came out all guns blazing.

Well, that was THE PLAN

Amanda had kindly brought Fred in to plait his tail, so when I got there at 6am with the trailer, he and Minstrel were merrily sharing haynets and Fred had a look on his face like he was about to embark on "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure".........

We had the usual nonsense loading that has been happening since February... But it doesn't last long and he loaded.

Because of the early times, I didn't have my trusty groom and photographer - Charleigh - with me. And because we had course walked the day before at 2pm, the SJ course had not been up so the first job was to walk the SJ.

As usual, Freddie tacked up fine, and I had a new plan for my dressage warm up. 10 minutes of long and low and just going forward, forward, forward. After 10 minutes I 'reported' to Jayne at the fence line, who said to start picking it up into a frame now. Fred felt like he had a flat left front tyre, not particularly wanting to give with his neck that way. Then all my numbers fell out of my number bib, so I had to get off and he took the opportunity to eat. I tried walking up with out the whip, instead insisting he go forward from my leg.

I have no footage of the actual test, it started O.K. I suppose, he was at least going forward. We received a 6.5 for our entry, then a couple of 6's for the next two moves where the rhythm wasn't settled. We picked up to 7s for the trot change of rein and canter strike off, and a 7.5 for our canter circle...... And then the WHEELS WELL AND TRULY FELL OFF.....

As we approach the downward transition into the corner of the arena, Fred tripped or something and he jinked and fell completely out of the arena. I was so surprised that I hurriedly re-entered the arena and then forgot where I was going in the test and started riding a completely wrong move. I re-circled to the 'incident zone' and tried to pick up my test but both Fred and I were completely mind-blown now. The rest of the test was tense, particularly as he now really clocked minstrel in the next arena - resulting in us scoring a good smattering of 5's and 5.5s. We ended on 39. Once upon a time, I would have been delighted to have a sub-40 score...... my dressage continues to disappoint...

In the show jumping warm up, we were mostly focused on Minstrel. Screaming as we ran into fences, and whilst we successfully negotiated the warm up fences, the course left a lot to be desired. Fred was just distracted. He was very hard to read and I had literally no idea when or where he was going to put his feet down to take off. On the plus side, he didn't look at any of the fences and tackled his first triple bar without question, albeit in an inverted manner. We hit and miss our way around the course, getting deep and leaping until eventually we had the last fence down.

The going was good and the rain did not come (thankfully) so I decided not to stud up for the XC. We have NEVER had such a bad round XC. I know our first few fences were a bit sticky at mendips in the hunter trial, but today it was just carnage. He rapped and slithered over fence after fence. Spooking at obstacles on course that normally wouldn't even bother him, we slithered and scraped over a double, and the water and finally arriving at the haycart in a pile, I was like "Don't bloody jump from that indecision, we can't rap a square fence!" We therefore had a stop, I circled undecided whether we should continue, but he took the haycart on much more confidently. I considered retiring then, but we were soon on jump 9 (a log and drop at fence 9) which we again slithered over, and then spooked so dramatically at the 90's Owl Hole that he didn't even register that our fence 10 was in front of him. I didn't even attempt it. I pulled up, raised my hand and walked home.

To say I was disappointed would be a massive understatement. As Jenni explains, disappointment comes from the gap between expectation and reality..... This was a MASSIVE gap.

Fred is now having a short holiday.... And I'm going to revisit a plan going forward. First I need to check that my planning wasn't faulty, I want to check that he is in no pain and then I will look at what we need to do next.

If you consider the m-braining approach, perhaps there is some alignment issue or general issue with the heart brain.... It's still so very broken for my mum and perhaps, just perhaps, it (or my actual brain) need some time to heal......

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