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Sarah-Jane Brown 2018 Review

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The event season is over and it has certainly been a funny one. With the wet start and events cancelled left, right and centre, followed by a period of dry and hard it has meant we have had limited runs. Saying that as I spend periods in the dark side both doing dressage and show jumping we have certainly kept busy.

Ellie (my 14.1 project pony) has run 7 times this season, sadly missing her last run to finish at Bicton with a very slight virus. Whilst we may not have had quantity we have certainly had quality with six out of seven placings, no cross country penalties, only a single pole show jumping and two wins at BE100. Real feel we are ready to tackle a novice sometime next year.

Our last run at Dauntsey which is always demanding was nearly as satisfying as her two wins. Haven't competed at Dauntsey for a few years now and it has always been renowned as a top end course that asks plenty of questions at all levels. Really good to be able to take Ellie who is now well established at this level and see how she coped. We were also in a very hot section with the top riders including this year’s Badminton winner, a WEG team gold medalist and a host of other WEG team members. I actually love testing ourselves with the best, the commentator XC said how unfortunate I was to be in such a hot class but actually to do well in this company is a huge achievement.

Dressage was probably my least favourite test, with an extra halt and 15 meters circles. I seemed to have a crisis about these circles and usually end up with them the wrong shape or size. Luckily this time we nailed them and did a very sweet test. The main areas to work on are our downward transitions particularly from canter to trot, this was a bit abrupt and fell on her forehand. However, I was chuffed with a score of 30.5 with the best in our section being on 27. Always nice when I judge comments 'Lots to like about her'. (Not sure if that meant the rider had less to like or I am just being over sensitive?) 

Show jumping was a bright course which was jumping quite well. It is not unusual at Dauntsey for a local eventing celebrity to steward this year it was none other than Mark Todd manning the gate. The warm-up was pretty hard (everything else was fine) so kept my time here to a minimum and just jumped four jumps before going in. I can't believe how much this phase has improved this year and she went in and jumped a super round, we did have a lucky tap at fence 7 but the pole stayed up and we completed a clear round. 

So onto Cross country and I was slightly worried it was certainly the toughest course Ellie has jumped to date with a variety of boldness and technical questions. It started nicely with three flowing forward questions before fence four a brush with a decent ditch in front in the dark under the trees jumping out in the light. Ellie paused going into the darker bit but once she understood what she was jumping powered out over the brush. A simple fence followed before a usual looking combination with a pole over a single upright log holding it on the turn to another identical fence. I wasn't sure how well she would read it and got her back to a more showjumping canter but she understood the question easily turned for the second part locked on and was away. A good hedge followed then a style before a small step up on the angle to a skinny house which she locked on and understood easily. We then turned over the ditch rails and down to the quarry with a rail in before coming up and out over a meaty corner. We had a bit of a duff stride to the corner and had to get quite a short one in meaning it was easy for her to run out, she had no intention of this and popped up and out easily. A few easy fences followed before the first water, for these we cross the river but a log was situated on the top of a bank down under the trees, she kept quite low but there was no hesitation, through the water and up and out over a big brush fence. The brush fence was big enough as we were coming up the hill it was made even bigger by the fact that I stood her off a stride meaning she had to grow pony wings, this she did with ease and made nothing of it! A couple more fences before the last water and unfortunately I made a costly mistake and took the track to the novice water meaning I had to circle turn back to the correct track jump the boat down to the water, through and up over the skinny rail (see video). Sadly this mistake cost us 2 time faults which was frustrating but actually eventually only cost us a single place.

I was delighted in such a competitive section to finish 5th on the same score as Jonelle Price. 
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Fliss only ended up running twice on the event circuit with two double clears at 80 and 90 but she struggled with her frame running with her head on the ground which is a tad disconcerting. Experiments with tack including bitting and nosebands has eventually found a solution, the drop noseband with a chain at the back has stopped her crossing her jaw and plunging her head down with a nice rubber bit so if she crosses her jaw she is only fighting herself.

She did her first affiliated dressage last month and showed her versatility by being in the places in a strong class. She will have a winter ticking over both on the flat and jumping. Ellie has had a few weeks off and is now back in work and like Fliss will have a fun winter with a mix of training, competition and hacking.

For me I dread winter, luckily with the help of Suregrow grass should see me through but I find it hard with working and no school forcing me out on the roads which are increasingly dangerous. I am trying to ensure we have plenty of things to look forward to over the winter to keep motivated!

I have already booked another training session with Caroline Moore, am representing the riding club in dressage and arena eventing, have outings in dressage and show jumping planned so hopefully we will be ready to get a good start eventing in the spring.

It is sometimes the simple things that give the pleasure. The fact that Kensa (2 year old daughter of my advanced mare Sarnita) was good to come in and have her feet trimmed with her field mate Tommy was very satisfying. As far as the babies are concerned they have been pretty much left to their own devices to grow up with plenty of good grazing and shelter but minimal other attention and handling. They do lead well now but otherwise will be left another 18 months to grow and mature naturally.

To keep up to date check out my website www.shoestringeventing.co.uk

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November 6, 2018  |   Share: