Well what a great month July has been – thoroughly successful all round! It’s been such a boost having Alfie back to aim at events, and in July we’ve been to 3 BE Novices, and all 3 have gone extremely well with lots of improvements each time out.
We started out at Bicton Novice, known to be quite a tough venue but certainly a lovely event. He did a great dressage test for 36; then a rather spooky and naughty show jumping round, but clear over all the poles & finished up with an even naughtier and spookier XC round (at everything but the jumps!) for a solid clear just adding some time as I didn’t push him and it was very hot. He was as happy as I was to be back on the XC which was just so much fun. Very impressed with how well he contained himself for most parts of the day!
We quickly headed to Dauntsey Novice the following week, again known to be a challenging Novice course, but Alfie flew round both jumping phases, just adding 1 unlucky pole down to a 35 dressage, before a speedy clear XC round that pushed us into 9th place against multiple professionals! I was also trialling a new noseband around the cross country, and I was thrilled that it gave us one of our best ever XC rounds. Dickon had 4 horses running at Dauntsey, and picked up a 5th and a 6th (with my 2 favourite horses), so we both had a fun couple of days.
Thoroughly back into the swing of things we headed to the gorgeous Wilton House for our final Novice run. Sadly our smart dressage test was rather unfairly scored by the judge, and together with a late halt from me we got a disappointing score of 37.5. The best score in the section was only 31 so just high scoring for everyone, but it is a shame when there’s not a true reflection of the horses’ work on the scoreboard. I guess this is all just part of the sport…The ground in the SJ was quite wet and slippery, so I was pleased to come out with just 1 rolled pole when others were accumulating many more faults, and Alfie jumped superbly despite the conditions. We then flew round the beautiful XC course finishing very comfortably inside the time, to finish just out of the placings in 12th.
This was great preparation for our first international CCI* at Hartpury Horse Trials in 2 weeks’ time, followed by another step up to BE Intermediate level in September. Very exciting to even be considering these levels, and Alfie has felt so established at Novice in these 2 runs that it shouldn’t pose too many problems for us. Fingers crossed now for a great last month as Ascot’s sponsored young rider; Alex.