Where has the season gone?! So much has happened since my last update and all of a sudden I find myself about to compete in my last event of the season – how did that happen?? At the end of my last blog I wrote about the possibility of moving up a level with Molly and I am very pleased to say that we achieved that goal and have now completed two BE Advanced classes!

At the end of July I headed to Aston le Walls for the first one; I was more anxious than usual as aside from the fact we were stepping up to Advanced level, Molly and I had had a terrible run at our previous event at Barbury CIC** where I had a complete lack of brakes on the cross-country and had to retire at fence 7. A quick tune up jumping session with Richard Waygood helped to sort out our control issues but I was still to test out the new brakes in a competition. As it happens, this was going to be the least of my worries! The weekend was filled with drama from the start and included a lorry breakdown, traffic jams, missing my dressage (kind secretary moved me to the end of the day which meant my test was at 7pm – and all I’ll say is it wasn’t worth the wait!) and getting the lorry ‘stuck’ whilst negotiating some very tight turns on the way to the stabling! Molly was eventually settled in her stable at 10.30pm and I really started to wonder if it was a sign to turn round and go home, but nonetheless I persevered. I put the previous day’s antics behind me and tried to focus on the job in hand. Unfortunately we had a bad start in the showjumping (Molly thought we were playing demolition derby!) but we got our act in gear for the cross-country and had an absolutely awesome round! I really enjoyed it and Molly made it feel so easy which was just the best feeling. Mission accomplished – I had finally completed an Advanced!!

A month later I headed to Wellington for another crack at an Advanced. The course was quite a bit beefier as it ran over the same track as the CIC*** other than 2 fences. It was certainly going to be a challenge. This time I gave Molly some NAF Instant Magic calmer before her dressage which definitely helped and she was much more settled and managed to knock 8 marks off her previous score. Sadly the showjumping resulted in the same score despite her warming up much better than she did at Aston – more work needed. Molly felt fantastic round the cross-country and took on all the fences without hesitation and jumped all the straight routes. Unfortunately the jockey had a momentary lapse in concentration at one of the more straight-forward fences resulting in an unnecessary 20 penalties to mar an otherwise brilliant round. It was so encouraging to see how well Molly coped with the more testing course and it has given me confidence to look towards a 3* next year.

Molly @ Wellington Advanced

Photo credit - Spidge Photography

Molly @ Wellington Advanced

Photo credit - MDR Photography

Course walk with Nick Gauntlett

Blenheim course walk with Nick Gauntlett

In between these 2 events I have been spectating at a few other high profile events – starting with Burghley where I was able to walk round some of the course after the riders had finished so I could see some of the jumps ‘up close’ – just sizing them up for Molly in a few years’ time!! I then headed home to Scotland to attend the Europeans at Blair Castle – Blair is my favourite event so I didn’t want to miss it especially this year. It was fantastic to experience the atmosphere and walk round the impressive course; sadly the weather didn’t hold out for Saturday although in a way that made it more interesting to see how the riders coped with riding in those conditions. Next stop was Blenheim where I was lucky enough to join in a course walk with Nick Gauntlett which was incredibly worthwhile and I was able to pick up so many tips. Nick was full of enthusiasm and spent a great deal of time discussing and explaining various fences and also offering advice about cross-country riding in general. I really enjoyed the experience and am sure the advice will help me in future – Blenheim is one of my goals for next year so hopefully I can remember everything Nick said!

Feature fence at Blair

Feature fence at Blair - Eventing Europeans