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Roxie and I had another stay away show, this time it was the NAF British Riding Club National Championships. Back in July we qualified for the Senior Jumping & Style section at the Area 10 qualifier held at Felbridge Showground. After much thought I decided why not, lets go to the championships and see how we get on! I was amazed that Roxie had won the qualifier as although she is a very smart and pretty looking horse (biased I know!) but her style over a fence has never been that great, she has her own way of getting from one side of the fence to another and after many years trying to change this I accepted we couldn't so we would just have to try and improve it best we can! After the clear round after clear round she has been jumping recently I was quite hopeful so after a morning of packing, riding the other horses and bathing Roxie we loaded up and set off........to Lincolnshire Show Ground, yes LINCOLNSHIRE!!
My satnav was saying 4 hours 35 minutes so I was hoping it wasn't going to take us much longer than 5, 5 and a half hours tops - how wrong was I! The motorways were very busy and we came back to a standstill on the motorway where ever the was traffic joining and /or leaving! After almost 7 hours driving we finally made it there and parked up. Roxie had to have her vet check before I could find out what stables we were in. It was quite windy in the field which all the horses were finding quite exciting, apart from Roxie she stood, or should I say posed whilst the vet checked her over. We were then given our stable number and luckily Roxie had been given one of the permanent stables :) It was a great stable actually, on the end of the front block and she had a lovely view out across the showground and could see all the rings!
After getting Roxie settled in her stable and grabbing a drink I decided to tack her up and took her for a ride around the showground to stretch her legs which she enjoyed. We wandered over and had a look at the ring we would be competing in the next day and then headed back and settled Roxie down for the night and she tucked into her dinner very happily!
Waking up the next day it was raining, in fact it had been raining since about midnight and being in the lorry with a flat roof I hardly got any sleep due to the rain on the roof!! The rain continued and after accepting that I was going to get wet that day I got myself sorted, mucked Roxie out and started to get her ready. Our time was 11.42am and with the class starting at 8am I was hoping the ground was going to hold up well as Roxie is still barefoot behind. We tacked up and headed over to the warm up and had timed it to perfection as after warming up we went straight in to jump our round.
We had to stand in front of the judges box to start with and Roxie was a little bit tense so fidgeted a bit, we then had to go off and do a little show for the judge, showing them a bit of walk trot and canter on both reins until they ring their bell and you can then begin to jump your round. Roxie quite liked doing the show as she got to show off her party piece movement - her medium / extended trot! The bell went and we began our round. Roxie jumped a really nice steady round for me and listened to what I was asking of her (for once!). We finished the round and Roxie's run of jumping clear rounds continues!! I was very pleased with how she had jumped despite the rain and slippery ground. I took her back to the stable, got her sorted and then headed back to the lorry to start packing up....driving home was not something I was looking forward to, especially as I was very wet and cold!
After sorting the lorry out I headed over to look at the scores. We picked up a respectable score which I was pleased about but unfortunately we did pick up 5 time faults which pushed us out of the top 10 placings. I wasn't too bothered as I was very pleased with how she had jumped and I didn't want to push her any faster and risk her clipping on the ground. On looking at Roxie's score sheet after, I didn't totally agree with the judges comments - they has suggested I do a little more grid work at home to get the horse to use their back more and bascule over the fences! As mentioned previously Roxie style of jumping is unique and there is no changing it, especially not now she is 15 years young bless her!
Back to the box I went, took Roxie for a leg stretch (she wasn't too interested in walking around, she just wanted to get in the box out of the rain as quickly as possible!) and then loaded Roxie up and began our journey home, hoping and praying that the rain hadn't caused any accidents on the road! Exactly 5 hours after leaving Lincolnshire we arrived back home in Kent, luckily the traffic hadn't been too bad for us and on a positive I had finally dried out a bit I got Roxie unloaded and settled back in her stable for the night and headed home to get some well earned sleep myself!
Please Click Here for more pictures and a video from our time at the Riding Club Championships!
***Keep Calm & Canter On***
I hope you are well and had a great bank holiday weekend. We certainly did with 3 great days away jumping with Roxie and Milli at the Weston Lawns Bank Holiday Bonanza!
Now where do I start?! Maybe first I should suggest you go a grab and cuppa and a few biscuits as this may be a long read.....I hope you enjoy reading this as much as we enjoyed our time away!
We didn’t have a great start, we had only got a few miles down the road and we were already held up as a land rover had rolled and collided with a dust bin lorry which put us 20 minutes behind already! Needless to say the traffic didn’t get much better to be honest, most junctions on the motorways were busy but then again I guess it was always going to be busy with people going away for the bank holiday. After a rather hot and stressful journey we finally made it there, all-be-it 2 hours after we had planned but we had got there.
With the light fading my mum and my brother, Oliver were starting to put their tent up whilst we got the horses settled into their stables for the night, although someone had put their horses in two of our stables which meant our 4 horses were all split up which they weren’t happy with to say the least! Thankfully the organisers at Weston Lawns managed to sort it out for us and they were all together and tucked up in their stables for the night. It had no got rather late so once we’d had a bite to eat, showered we all headed to bed and it has to have been one of the coldest nights I can remember for a long time in my little lorry.....heating needed before our next stay away!
Day 1 - Saturday 27th August
The girls looked very pleased to see me in the morning as they didn’t settle that well, they aren’t used to staying away from home that much so it was all a bit out of the norm for them. We got the day of to a good start with Roxie jumping a lovely double clear in the British Novice in the main ring. I later realised that the later part of the course was timed so without any tight turns we missed out on a placing but at least we got our second double clear.
As Milli hadn’t settled very well I decided to jump her around this too as a confidence booster. Things couldn’t have gone more to plan and she jumped a super confident and speedy double clear to win the class! There was >70 competitors in the class so I was very pleased with Milli’s win and Roxie finished in 20th place too so things got of to a great start.
After a short break whilst the course was changed I was back on Milli and jumping in the Discovery. I was planning to jump a nice steady round as we still have double clears to pick up at this level this year to qualify us for the second round next year. Milli was jumping a great round but we had an unlucky pole down as we headed back towards the gate towards the end of the course, Milli took her concentration of the fence momentarily and looked across into the warm up (think she was trying to find her horse friends!) and she just tapped the top rail.
After an afternoon in the stables I took them out for a nice walk in the evening which they very much enjoyed and it seemed to help relax them a little for the night.
Day 2 - Sunday 28th August
Milli was first to go today, jumping in the main ring again and this time we were going straight in at the 1.05m National Amateur Qualifier. Milli still hadn't settled that well and the whole time she was away from the stables she was looking around trying to see any of her friends! Because of this we picked up an unlucky 8 faults for two fences down.
Roxie was next and this time we were jumping in the Weston Arena. First class was the 85cm National Amateur Qualifier class, rather small I know but Roxie hasn't ever done much showjumping anyway and after her accident I just want to take her out and let her enjoy life and have some fun. Have some fun was certainly what we did and after clearing the first part of the course the handbrake came off in the jump off and despite missing one turn towards the end due to Roxie going a little too fast, we finished up in 6th place!
Staying in the Weston Arena for the rest of day 2 and Roxie was to jump again, this time in the British Novice. There hadn't been many clears when I went in and my main aim is to collect our four double clears for British Novice so I went in planning on jumping a steady double clear. After stepping up the speed in the last class, steady was off the menu for Roxie so I put her to the test a little bit and after jumping the first part clear we put in some quite tight turns and Roxie took on the challenge well, completing the round clear and we finished in 3rd place......two double clears, two placings, all in one day - this is un-heard of for Roxie showjumping!
Milli was jumping in the last class in the Weston Arena on day 2, the Discovery. Having not jumped in this ring before with Milli I planing on a nice confident round for her and she jumped a great round for me. Like the morning though, every corner we went round she was busy looking where her friends were as opposed to at the jumps. This caused us to pick up another 8 faults which was a little frustrating, but on the positive she was jumping confidently at least.
Day 3 - Bank Holiday Monday - 29th August
After starting to get things packed up in the morning as we would be driving home later on the Monday, Roxie was first to jump and again we were in the 85cm first off and Roxie jumped another super double clear, yes - still no poles knocked down!! We finished in 3rd place in this class which I was very pleased with. The classes in the main arena that day had >70 / 80 competitors in so Milli's first class wasn't going to start until well after lunch.
Roxie jumped next in the British Novice in the Weston Arena and I thought I would see how fast we could go and how tight we could turn, Roxie was more than happy to answer and she responded with VERY fast and I can do tight turns too mum! She jumped another super speedy double clear! At the time I didn't realise how everyone else was jumping in this class and had to dash off and get Milli ready for her class. I later found out that Roxie had finished the competition how Milli started and we had won the British Novice!
Milli was entered in the 1.05m Memorial Trophy class in the main arena which seemed to be a very tough course, with very few clears! We went in and after Milli being a little unsettled to start with her concentration was solely on me today which was great. She was jumping a great round but we did unfortunately pick up 4 faults at the second to last fence, she must have tapped it so lightly as I didn't hear her hit it but it fell which was very frustrating.
As she had jumped so well I entered her in the next class which was the Newcomers but despite getting everything packed, stables emptied, lorry loaded it had got to 4pm and they still hadn't done the mounted prize giving for the 1.05m class so I had to withdraw as it would have made our day incredibly long with the 4 /5 hour drive home left to be done! Thankfully the drive home was much better than the drive there and we arrived home just after 9pm. Got the horses tucked up in their normal stables, which they were very pleased to see, the lorry locked up as unloading and cleaning that was a job for Tuesday!
On reflection, although Milli's results didn't look great on paper, I was very pleased with how well she jumped, very confidently and there wasn't any stops or hesitations.....hopefully I have got the old Milli back! Over the next few months with Milli I will try and get my remaining Discovery double clears before April 2017 and we have also qualified for the 1.05m National Amateur Second Rounds which are towards the end of the month and into October. What can I say about Roxie, we were all and still are amazed at how well she jumped! She loved every minute of it and her face lit up every time she was taken out of the stable to be tacked up. My aim with her now is just to let her have and enjoy a slightly quieter life on the competition front. she is never going to do what she did before our fall and I am so lucky that she is back jumping again so we are just going to have fun at the lower level now.
We had a weekend at home last weekend but Roxie and I are back out competing this weekend at the British Riding Club National Championships at Lincolnshire Showground.....hopefully the drive up on Friday isn't as bad as our drive to Weston Lawns! #wishusluck
***Keep Calm & Canter On***