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Shelford Horse Trials – BE Novice

(August 20, 2012)

Shelford Horse Trials – BE Novice

Disappointed about the sad news with Wizard is a huge understatement. Thankfully very very kindly I was offered a ride around Shelford Horse Trials on Alfie. A gorgeous 16.1hh bay gelding with a big soft white nose! Previously I had been hacking him out and a couple of schooling sessions to keep him ticking over.

I managed to swap my entry from Wizard to Alfie on the Friday night, popped a few cross poles with Alfie on Saturday, took him to a HT at Keysoe Sunday and competed BE Novice on the Wednesday!! Talk about jump straight on!

Over the moon at the thought of competing I quickly arranged to take him out the unaffiliated hunter trials at Keysoe EC. We did the 1m open class and absolutely flew round – he was amazing and we seemed to click straight away. Even though I jumped only a couple of crossed poles the night before we jumped a fabulous clear. (I did manage to miss a fence so circled and finished the course-  4th!)

Shelford…

Feeling slightly nervous but hugely excited I walked the XC. It was a really lovely course and Shelford is one of my favourite events. It had plenty of questions but flowed nicely. I wish my mum aka photographer could have come as there was a big table and a massive brush parallel table/box fence which would have been awesome pictures.

I was told he could get upset in the warm up by other horses coming to close (though he was fine and relax plus a perfect gentleman in al-respects). With this in mind I kept him to one side and found a quiet corner to work in. Alfie has big impressive paces (unlike Wiz) so I was keen to show them off in the mediums we scored plenty of 8’s but as is the risk sometimes with going for the higher marks it can come times go wrong – with jogging and tension creeping in in our walk work scoring a 4 instead of the 8 I was aiming for but then again I could have gone for a safe 6/7 mark. Despite reminding fellows not to forget the halt on entry and repeating it to myself whilst trotting round … of course I forgot! Concentrating so much on straightness I forgot the judge kindly let me start again but I certain I was not the only one falling victim to this. However; scoring 32.5 despite this and also receiving lovely comments from the judge.

Next was the show jumping – the up to height 1.10m track was causes problems. Although I’d never jumped an oxer on Alfie let alone a course we jumped a super Clear! And this even put up to the top of the leader board!! This was impressive as I counted at least 16 pro riders in my section. As the commentator said when galloping towards the large table on the XC what a pity we were HC!

Unfortunately there was a hold on course on the XC. Alfie waited patiently in the warm up while I chatted to fellow event riders waiting for the competition to get going again. After a re-warm up we headed up to the start box … 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO… we set off jumping to first two fences out of a stride. The third was the first combination (where the hold had been, fence now repaired) and popped through and away. It was then galloping to the table at fence four I over-heard the commentator saying we were in the lead! Amazing, this spurred me on through the next combination and away, fence seven was a big solid rather uninviting potatoes trough but Aflie made it feel about 2 foot as we flew it out of a stride. Next was an open ditch trakehner with a thin white (willow tree?) log as the top rail, it wasn’t a fence I was particularly worried about as I steady round the corner to set up; Alfie clocked the BE100 fence and was confused when I turn off the track to take the twisty route to the Novice one. I think this moment of misunderstanding lost us our rhythm, balance and striding and we arrive at the fence in an impossible place ahh. Annoyed at myself but it happens I circled, got the stride and we flew it. The fence judges and spectators around the fence clapped and cheered as we galloped away me patting Alfie. Next fence was the biggest on the course a brush parallel (the ideal photo fence) I remember thinking oh great, kick on but of course Alfie popped it with ease and we galloped off to the next. The corner was the problem or boggey fence causing no end of penalties. I set up and we jumped it no problem – the rest of the course was amazing, Alfie was amazing!

We finished with perhaps you could say a silly 20 pen as we absolutely flew round together as if we had of been competing all season. However I will take it as some consultation - could I image winning but only to be HC that would have been really awful!!

I recommend Alfie to my trainer for a client of his as they had been looking for a special juniors horse. As he was for sale (gutted I couldn’t buy him) I couldn’t think of a better horse or a better home for Alfie who is now sold to them.

Pictures below of me and Alfie in action at Keysoe (hopefully pictures of Shelford to follow – when I can afford them!)

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