Lauren Dallison | March Blog
March, and the fast approaching event season began with a trip to Larkhill for a final cross country tune up before Tweseldown. Unfortunately, heavy rain, wind, a bad rotational fall on course, and the air ambulance being called, so the course was cleared, just as I had started to warm Donald up, so not ideal before our first event, but luckily Hattie was ok! Donald felt absolutely incredible jumping the few fences we managed- nice to know he has learnt to use his scope! We got a late slot into the West Wilts Arena Eventing to practice a course before Tweseldown, and apart from tapping the final part of the double in both rounds, he was on top form. It’s safe to say that the transition between ponies to horses is much harder than I expected… Especially going from 2 whizzy ponies to a giant warmblood – the ability to turn is something I took for granted!
After realising that over the winter, our cream lorry (yes, a bad colour choice I know) had grown a thick brown coat – obviously taking tips from my hippo wannabe horse! After spending the rest of the day cleaning and packing the lorry, including our super new B&W Equine Kit, everything looked respectable.
We made the annual pilgrimage to Tweseldown, my favourite event, and unfortunately for me, it’s a favourite among the top riders too! I was waitlisted from the BE100u18, so we transferred to an incredibly tough section in the BE100 open, so knew it was going to be for the experience rather than being competitive. We got one of the better dressage scores in the section of 28.5 which set us off to a good start, compared to the high scores I scraped with the stress-head ponies I was used to, it was great! On the way to show jumping we met Ian Camm from B&W. I unfortunately let Donald down in the show jumping, picking up 8 faults including the second part of the double… again… a pattern appearing and lots to work on. On to cross country and much to my surprise, Donald was very spooky which meant for an interesting round. We were taking our first run at a steady pace, so picked up an armful of time penalties, and a stop at the first water where he was distracted by the crowd, didn’t read the fence properly, but popped it sweetly second time. He grew in confidence as the round went on which is all I could ask for, around a very beefy and technical first event of the season! I can’t thank Tweseldown enough for putting on such a great event – we will be returning later on in the season!
After a few days of recovery, we went to have a lesson with Maggie Doel with a long list to practice before the next event. We worked a lot on achieving a rounder, bouncier and controllable show jumping canter, which consisted of Polework, grids and most importantly a double! By the end of the session, Donald was feeling much more athletic and there was no way he was touching the final element of the double! We also spent a lot of time working on my position, and we finally got to the root of the problem - my lack of leg use! Something we’ve been trying to figure out since my first pony Jet! I had been overusing my seat as opposed to my legs, which would have also been preventing the horse to round his back. I now hear Maggie shouting ‘SEAT!’ at me whenever I ride… At least it worked at Swalcliffe!
The following weekend we trucked 2.30 hrs to Swalcliffe Park for the BE100u18. Again, Donald posted a competitive score of 31.5 in the dressage putting us 8th in a tough section. A fab show jumping round, a careful jump through the double, apart from be being complacent at the last and picking up 4 faults, I couldn’t fault him. Cross country he produced a really encouraging clear, and didn’t spook once! We again picked up time faults as I wanted a confident clear which is what we got – I couldn’t be happier with him. This weekend we went to Boomerang for another play as our BE training session at Rosamund Green was cancelled because of the wet ground, Donald was a star! He flew all of the novice and some intermediate combinations with ease. He had a green moment at the fence out of the water, a replica of the problem fence at Tweseldown, however he flew it second time, so we repeated it a few times to make sure he understood the question.
Yesterday, we had a lesson with Bruce Haskell. His methods and explanations made so much sense and Donald was flying. He also showed me how to stop him dropping and leaning through his shoulder – another revelation!
Tomorrow, we are going to have a flatwork lesson with Richard Waygood and to run through our test for Howick, fingers crossed Donald will channel his inner Valegro! It’s a very busy time as I’m also working hard on my revision as GCSE’s are also fast approaching. Next stop Howick on 1st April