On Saturday I drove Tom to Aston-le-Walls which is in Northants (but only just, it’s a few miles from Banbury), to take part in an Intro level one-day Event.
This was Tom’s first competitive run with Sammi onboard – Sammi has been schooling Tom all week, trying to get things straightened out – and we wanted to see how he would go in a competitive environment.
As well as the schooling, we have also had a tack change. We have decided to stick with the snaffle Bit for flatwork, and use the Cheltenham Gag Bit for both jumping phases.
We have augmented these changes by abandoning the Grackle noseband and, instead, using a Flash noseband for all three phases (dressage, show-jumping and cross-country).
I realise this is esoteric stuff to non-equestrians, but believe me, these pieces of fine-tuning are critical to the horse’s comfort and well-being because, just as you can lead a horse to water but can’t make it drink, you can’t make a horse perform well if it is unhappy with its tack.
Tom’s dressage continues to improve (fortunately it was the same test as his last two Events), and he scored only 36.5 penalties which is brilliant. I think his true dressage potential is around the 32-34 penalty zone, but it’ll take a bit more effort to get down there.
In the show-jumping Tom had a fence down which, as the video shows, occurred because he was too keen in to the corner, and he was unbalanced and rushing out of the turn.
In the cross-country phase Tom showed everyone what it was all about.
He came out of the start box at a fair pace (keen to travel sidways at one point), and maintained that speed for most of the course.
Sammi allowed him to open the throttle a little on the final 3rd of the track.
Tom’s dressage video is below. If you think discussions about nosebands, Bits and other pieces of tack is esoteric, stay away from dressage videos!
A bit pacier and racier than the dressage, this is Tom’s show-jumping round:
This is the start of Tom’s cross-country:
And this is the last 2/3rds of the cross-country, and the point where Tom is allowed to get a shift on:
The bottom line for Tom’s day is that despite rolling a pole in the show-jumping, clever Tom finished 12th out of 34 finishers. He completed the cross-country in 3m 50s against an optimum time of 3m 55s, which is brilliant.
I got caught by the sun and Sammi and Jess (who groomed for Sammi) spent far too much time taking the pee out of me.
After Tom had finished, and during a moment of mental inattention, Jess allowed Tom to tread on her foot.
As Tom is a) very big, b) very heavy and was c) wearing studs in his shoes, I was desperately concerned for her wellbeing.
However she reassured me that he hadn’t caught her foot and had just trodden on the side of her wellie.
Several hours later I had a text from Sammi to say that Jess was in hospital having a piece of her toe removed.
I felt – and still feel – very bad about this.
Everyone had the day off. Well, when I say everyone, I mean Sophie, Tom and I had the day off. Poor Sammi had to work at the yard (and she’d competed three horses at Aston-le-Walls on the previous day!).
We got up in the afternoon, we got showered and dressed in the early evening and we got back in to bed not many hours later.
During the course of the afternoon/evening I did a huge load of admin and, as a direct result, spent several hours feeling very smug.
And that, my friends, was my weekend; hot, horsey and lazy – as promised.
How was yours?