Yesterday Giselle and I competed in our first one day event of the year – it’s been a LONG time coming! We’ve been focusing on our dressage for the last 6 months or so we were both very excited to be getting out for some fun cross country jumping.
Knowing that it would be at least a 3-4 hour journey, we set off Saturday afternoon on our eventing adventure. My good friend, Bevin, came along with us for the fun – good thing too as I had no idea where we were going but between the two of us we managed to find our venue (even though neither of us know our left from our right!!).
This was the first event hosted by the Donegal Gaeltacht Riding Club at Gordon’s Bay Equestrian centre in the north of Co. Donegal. The venue was beautiful, situated on the edge of a bay with gorgeous green hills and views of the sea. When we arrived we were warmly welcomed by the owner and proprietor, Liz, who showed us to Giselle’s lovely bedroom for the night. Luckily Giselle travels really well and she was more than delighted to settle in, eat her dinner and chat away to her new neighbours.
We decided to have a quick walk of the course as we were there. Plenty skinny fences, brushes and quick turns to keep us on our toes! Back at the yard Bevin suggested I give my tack a quick clean to get it over and done with… Uhhh where’s my bridle… Yup, I did it again, I forgot my bridle! So much for my list!! Luckily super BF managed to run back to the yard at home and deliver the bridle to a friend who was traveling up the next morning. Crisis averted.. Thanks Bevin for telling me to do my tack, thanks BF and Emma for saving the day!
Bevin and I headed back to our B&B – stopping by the local take away en route and settled in for the night. Burgers and wine!
Our dressage test wasn’t until 12:00pm Sunday so I got up early and ran up to the yard to feed and plait Miss G. By 8:45 I was back in the B&B for breakfast and tea. I wasn’t nervous as I normally would be, I felt prepared and with Bevin there to keep me on the go everything was organised.
Dressage went well even though I felt I could have taken a steadier contact and rode our transitions better but overall I was very happy with our test (I remembered it for one!!). We just had to get jumping now. Boots and a martingale added we headed for the warm up and straight in to our jumping round. Giselle was in top form and flew round the course. Her pilot forgot whether we were going left or right and one stage and had to stop to ask for directions – which gave everyone a good giggle! Clear round and now to the cross country!
I began to get the feeling that we may have done quite well when a number of people began to ask had I seen my dressage score yet. Not wanting to get carried away with myself I purposely hadn’t checked my score. Giselle and I haven’t had many days out jumping so my only aim was to ride the course as best we could and take it as another “school day”.
Cross country time… After several bathroom breaks and declarations of “I feel sick” it was time to head to the start box. Bevin’s parting words were “No hesitation now, ride her like you stole her!” – basically shut up woman and ride! 5-4-3-2-1 BOOM we’re off. Giselle sprang into the air and galloped over 1 to 5 logs, water drops banks and hedge, 6a – b log to log pile, 7 coffin tight to 8 through the hedge, 9 downhill to skinny tyres, 10 horseshoe, 11 white gate, 12 log and hedge…
13 a, b, c – unfortunately here the water complex got us! Giselle just wasn’t confident jumping into the big open water and was unsure of what was being asked of her. On her 2nd refusal I decided to bypass the C element and finish the rest of the course knowing we’d be eliminated. There was no point forcing her to do something she didn’t understand and I preferred to get her home happy and confident rather than having a domestic. She absolutely pinged all the fences home. There is no better feeling than when your horse locks on to a fence and takes you down to it completely focused. We just have to work on her water issues – I do love my little mare 🙂
Bevin met us at the finish line and confirmed that we had been in the lead with the best dressage score in our class with just 33.4 penalties. We were close to a red ribbon but that’s eventing! More homework to do! We know what we have to work on for the next day out and I am only delighted that the work we have put into our dressage is beginning to show. Giselle has all the potential in the world but it’s up to me to get it out of her and build our confidence. Onwards and upwards!
A sincere and special thanks to Bevin for all your help and keeping me cool and organised and to Anne from Horse World for the lend of the Dalmar Eventing boots (which I loved)! And congratulations to the Donegal Gaeltacht Riding Club and Gordon’s Bay Equestrian centre on a wonderful, enjoyable and extremely well organised event. Can’t wait for the next one!