Chepstow Horse Trials 14th July 2015
Situated at Chepstow racecourse, the access to this event is great. As soon as you’ve crossed the Severn Bridge you’ve practically arrived. The event was much the same as last year except the relocation of the show jumping. Last year it was exceptionally wet, and the jumping arena got very deep so I’m assuming this brought on this move.
Although the limited space that is available for the cross country, the course runs across the main area several times, and has plenty of questions throughout of which I think the water fence was the strongest. in both the BE100 and the Novice classes, you had to approach the water up a mound and jump a hanging log on top with ground falling away behind it into the water itself. This required the rider to choose the correct pace and get the horse in a good balance so that they could allow the horse the use of its neck up the slope and time to assess the question. Approached too fast the riders will pull and restrict the horse too close to the jump which will not allow the horses chance to see the fence and ground falling away behind into the water before they should commit to taking off. This will result in the horse being surprised at point of take off, and possibly cause a stop or very awkward jump.
I had three horses competing, two in the BE100, and one in the Novice.
I started with Storm Blue in the BE100. I will apologise for my quick complaint, but when arriving at the dressage warm up I found once again we were expected to trot around on very rough hard ground. This is probably where horses will be asked to do most of their work at an event, and it is often some of the worse prepared ground on the event site. I would really hope that dressage and show jumping warm up areas could be spiked to at least provide some give. It’s bad enough when the going can not offer anything back to the horse, but when it actually punishes them, you have to ask yourself, Is this really encouraging them to perform at their best? Rant over!
Storm blue didn’t particularly appreciate the ground, but he didn’t complain or let me down, and professionally delivered an accurate test.
I only jump three warm up fences so as to save him for the course. Blue has done a lot of show jumping throughout the last year and this showed. He easily cantered around for a clinical clear round.
After having a small blip at our last event at Treborough, I was eager to prove how good this horse is across the country, and he did just that. With so many gears available, he covers the ground with ease, and he has scope to burn. I had a foot perfect round for a beautiful double clear. Sooo looking forward to getting a bit more experience behind this horse and getting him up the grades.
Bloomfield Tiger Two was next up, and once again, several of his support crew had turned up from, The Ladies Club. With Tigers cute looks and this gang of women supporting him he can’t but succeed.
At only 5 years old, he has a super temperament. He strolls over to the dressage, gets patted and fussed, then drops straight into his work, and trots through his dressage test. What more could you ask for from a young horse.
Tiger has such an amazing jump, but I feel his lack of competition experience has caused to make green errors in this phase. He started his round really nicely, but when the terrain slightly alters it effects his jump. I’m sure this is just balance and strength, and a bit of patience will see this horse get the clear rounds he deserves instead of those annoying odd rails.
Tiger seemed to be settling into the cross country until we approached fence 6, which was a corner positioned beneath a tree on the turn. As we turned he half locked on to a jump that was in a different class, as I pulled him around away from that, I think he assumed we were cantering through these jumps and didn’t expect to be faced with his fence against the tree, and we had a glance off. He jumped it well on his second attempt and continued around the course, growing in confidence as he went. I was very pleased with how he tackled the water jump, and must put his mistake down to experience.
Midnight Ash was contesting in the Novice class. He once again performed a dressage test to the best of his abilities. He does struggle in this phase, not through want of trying, but his super temperament and hard work must be paying off, as he was rewarded with a 29.5. His P.B. in this phase.
Ash’s jumping is always consistent, and we’ve been doing a lot of jumping outside of eventing to prepare for his step up to Intermediate soon. This proved dividend, and he jumped an impressive clear, giving everything a mile.
The cross country seemed to be causing quite a few problems. A step up to an acutely angled skinny brush on an awkward line seemed to be the biggest culprit. I set off nice and steady, getting the first couple of fences out of the way, and let Ash slowly build up his rhythm. He gave me an amazing ride, proving that thoroughbred’s are the best cross country horses. He runs at Barbury next, and I think with a bit more space, and some well built fences, he’s going to really enjoy himself.
We were rewarded with a fantastic 3rd place for this classy double clear. Well done Ash!