Phase two - Dressage and Jumping Combined

4 April 2019

With a couple of successful dressage outings under our belt, we began to work on the jumping again at home in our lessons. The results were great. Fred was now jumping in a much more sedate manner and with his head and shoulders up (rather than nose-diving into the base of the jump), giving us a lovely rhythm and frame, in and out of the fences. The training built up to us jumping a course of fences at about 75/80cm. So I now needed to do this out at a show. However, after being spooked at his last jumping show, I was a bit reticent. Then I had a brainwave to try combined training competitions as a starter. The reasons being a) the show jump warm up would be less frantic than for a normal SJ show, b) we'd have already done 40 mins of dressage beforehand, and c) Mendip Plains holds CT regularly each month so whether it was good or bad we could go back quickly and try again.

And so, on 4 April 2019, Fred and I did our first ever combined training event

It's fairly typical of my luck that we should have temperatures upwards of 16 degrees and sunshine when I booked on to the competition, only for the temperatures to drop to raining/hail and a max of 5, real feel of 1, when it actually came to competition day.

Driving to the show, all I knew was that one 'phase' would be on grass. I decided dressage on grass would be preferable, and was relieved to find that the white boards were indeed out on the grass......

Of course......, the flip side......, is that the warm-up is therefore also on that ....BIG... OPEN... EXPANSE.... OF FIELD....!! For those not in the know, being on grass adds a whole other aspect to competing - it can make horses a bit spicy when they feel it under their hooves, especially in a big open field like this one. It also means you need to ride with more 'direction' or purpose, because (for a young horse) you do not have the security of a wall or fence. GULP.

However, despite my initial gulp, having never ridden Fred in an open space, I was pleased (and relieved) that he warmed up well. We very quickly got up to cantering and were doing it very happily and in control.

​Sadly, the competition started behind time and having worked in by then for 40 mins continuously at trot or canter because Fred couldn't walk and focus, Fred became a little er, non-compliant in his actual test. In fact, he was an outright brat, not least because he thought he was going to the lorry as we rode to the arena to start. He literally went from "yep, going nice, I know we've been out here a while but that's cool", to "Ah, walking to the judges car", then "Oh, I see the lorry", and ending with "yeah, not doing this now". (See video, published only as evidence in support of my "Little brat" statement.) The situation was made worse by the fact that I didn't think whips were allowed, so I had relinquished mine and had to pony club kick him around the test instead whilst discussing the merits of doing a test under duress. But I suppose you can say I was brave enough to keep getting after him. I discovered as I walked out of the arena that whips were - actually - allowed. URGH! LOGAN! READ. THE. RULES!

HA! Watch me curl right back up at ya! Make me do stressage in the rain will you! HA.

You remember we got a 7 for our super canter? Meh, not today! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Ah crap, that rain is right in my face....Hey wait, we got a 7 for this. That was so NOT my plan.

But then came the good bit - the jumping phase

He started a little distracted but settled to do a lovely warm up and a lovely round. I was beaming. THAT was all we were there for. A nice round. Which with 3 related distance fences and a double, that would previously seen us hot-footing across the space out of control, having a nice steady, balanced, listening round was just AWESOME.

I think it's safe to say, I was super proud of the boy's jumping phase and even with a poor dressage score of 40.5% (which was still better than I expected when I came out) we were 3rd of 4. Positively Remarkable. And I stayed much more calm than at previous attempts .... even faced with cantering in a field, doing dressage on grass and jumping for the first time since it all went a bit wrong. ​​

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