February was all about preparing for the Winter Nationals. First up though was a Summer Qualifier at Solihull, the venue for our Excel Programme Squad Training this time around. We planned the Solihull SQ as a training run for the Winters and also an opportunity to pick up some qualifying points for the Summer Nationals. Our scores at the last couple of outings have not been our best scores and as it turned out we were in front of the same judge but at a different venue, so it was a good opportunity to test ourselves with that combination and get some more feedback on both Novice and Individual Championship tests we’d be riding at the Winter Nationals.
In the run up we had the great news that I was to recieve a SportsAid grant again this year following a recommendation by the British Equestrian Federation (which is my sports governing body). As a bonus it was confirmed that I was again selected as one of the fifty athletes across many sports that are supported by The Royal Bank of Canada, so I was doubly pleased as I really enjoyed participating in the many events they put together last year and the challenges it presented too. More on that next month, but back to Solihull Summer Qualifiers…
My support team for the day was Mum and Sacha which is a pretty formidable combination, so we were well set!
But it turned out to be a pretty mixed bag. The weather was pretty foul and very very blustery and we were competing outside. We warmed up ok, but when we entered the arena we were confronted with flying boards whipped up by the wind. Aslan understandably had a pretty major spook, it wasn’t safe to start our first test. The judge halted proceedings and the Solihull staff were called to secure the arena boards to prevent a reoccurrence, as it was pretty unsafe to compete in. We used the time to settle Aslan back down which he did brilliantly. That took about 20 minutes to fix altogether so we were having to compete with both a delay and longer mounted than we’d planned before the Novice and we still had to follow with the Individual test.
Eventually the bell went and we went down the centre line. We took our first school movement… and the judge rang the bell for a second time. I couldn’t believe it. I have always had a thing about not having my tests called, I was sure we hadn’t gone wrong and sure enough it wasn’t us, the judge had been given the the wrong test. So another delay, more time passed and another restart. I wasn’t particularly happy as we were competing for a reason and this wasn’t giving us the preparation we were there for, but we gave it everything we could in the circumstances. We ended up with 63.62% which was off our usual scores, but two Silver qualifying points for our Novice.
Needless to say we ran out of puff in the Individual test with way too much time in the saddle, which resulted in 61.58% and just a single Gold point. Not our best scores, and in general a frustrating day out, but in the circumstances I’m just glad we got through it with the experience behind us and perhaps we were better for it.
Here is my Novice test, even Mum’s iphone ran out of puff before we competed the Individual so I don’t have a record of that one!
Solihull behind us we travelled to Myerscough a day early to settle in and take up another opportunity for Summer Qualifier points as a warm up test. Travel to Myerscough was a five and a half hour journey through congestion and roadworks on the M6, so we arrived later than planned but we still took the opportunity to stretch Aslan off with a light session in the outdoor arena before getting him settled in the temporary stabling.
We had entered both the Novice and Individual SQ tests. Unusually the Individual test was before the Novice, so we decided in advance that if the Individual went well we’d withdraw from the Novice rather than over work it.
The Regionals championships were held all that week at Myerscough and the whole thing was being streamed live on equestrianpro.tv which was very cool. Dad’s a bit of a technology geek so it meant that we were able to capture the videos for analysis aftewards.
It was the first time I saw my name on the screen!
We had a good warm up and rode a decent test. It was a bit interesting because when I entered the arena I realised some of the Team GBR World Class selectors were sitting watching in the judges boxes. Nothing like a bit of pressure to concentrate the mind and motivate you to do your best! We ended up with 65.32% in the Individual, fourth in a class of 5 including some experienced competition and just a few tenths off a PB. It felt like one of our best Individual tests too, so we called it a night and withdrew from the Novice.
Championship day and we were riding the Novice at 12:32, so we had plenty of time to prepare in the morning. We did the the Arena walk at 11:45 and then straight into good warm which again went well. By this time my Mum, sister and brother had arrived to support us and we were all set. I was happy with the test and had some positive feedback from my coach Sacha. When the results came through we were given 66.90% from the judge at C who placed us 3rd behind a winning score of 68.19% but the judge at E had us at 62.78% from E pushing is down to 64.83% and fourth place over all with over 4% between judges which was a bit frustrating. So an improvement on my 2017 Summer Nationals Novice score but a place lower in the rankings. You can see what you think here….
Before the Gold Individual Championship Test I had to attend the Silver prize giving which was not ideal as there was not much time in between the classes. I was riding second in the class and it didn’t leave much time to get back into warm up. It got worse as the ceremony was delayed and it ended up with us having just about ten minutes warm up for the Individual which is much more complicated than the Novice, which much tougher movements for Aslan.
We gave it our best shot in the circumstances, but Aslan and I got a bit confused on our first 10 metre volte and the following medium trot. A change on our medium canter didn’t help our score and we ended up with 60.30%.
This was both frustrating and very disappointing after yesterdays 65% in the Summer Qualifier, and again annoying to see that even with these mistakes there was a 4% difference in the judges at C and E. I was placed 8th in my first Gold Championships and while I probably shouldn’t be disappointed at my first outing, I was.
The prize giving photo…
So that’s it from a pretty mixed and in parts frustrating February. I set high standards for myself and I am very competitive, so when we don’t quite achieve our targets and potential I get a bit frustrated. Then again it was our first National Gold competition, there was a very strong field with only one notable combination missing in my grade so perhaps I shouldn’t be so frustrated after all as it was a valuable learning experience.
Next month it’s Excel Squad Training, the kick off of my SportsAid funding and more Summer Qualifiers, so come back then and see what we have been up to. I’ll be updating you on Facebook and Twitter in the meantime so if you havent found me there already please look me up and LIKE me on Facebook and FOLLOW ME on Twitter.