Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Just unpacking from our best competition to date and thought I'd take a moment to share...

Gosh started the weekend in a low key way finishing in the middle of the pack in the Inter II. The weekend was dominated by the appearance of Jody Hartstones new stallion Whisper who qualified for the last Olympics for the Australians and who she has purchased with the intent of qualifying for WEG this year. Also it was Prestige VDL's first start at Grand Prix. He is a lovely stallion imported 2 years ago by Lisa Blackbourn and trained in Europe by Edward Gal who is the Dutch rider currently dominating the International Dressage circles. These two boys finished 1st and 3rd on the Friday with Whisper 3% in the lead of the bunch but then only 2% covering 2nd - 7th where we sat.

On Saturday we rode the Grand Prix. This was a change from the previous shows where the GP is on the last day but the format for both Nationals and HOY. The increase in energy paid off big time for me with my best score to date - finally cracking the 60% in the GP proper and finishing 1% behind Whisper the wonder horse in 2nd place! Easily our best performance to date and a fantastic feeling lying between two purposebred and internationally trained and competed stallions on my crossbred and self schooled pony. Big smiles all round and the bubbles were in the chiller!

Unfortunately it rained on Sunday and as I hadn't been told that the competition at Woodhill was run on grass, I hadn't packed my studs. Gosh slipped a little in warm up so we rode a safe and somewhat tentative freestyle. We still ended in a creditable 5th place, beated by the two stallions and then Charlott Bayliss & Karen Anderson who have both been competing GP for 4 years apiece.

Of course I still want more and I know we are capable of a great deal but it is nice to celebrate our successes! Looking forward very much to Nationals and HOY - only 2 weeks till we head to Taupo!!

North Island Champs

Well the fantastic news is that we managed a PB on each of the boys at the North Island Champs. Gosh in particular started the weekend with a hiss and a roar with his best performance to date in the Inter II. We scored 61.3% and were 3rd in a very strong field, beating all the combinations we had been pitted against in our previous outings this season. Des had a rather more traumatic start to the weekend in the horrendous weather that Hawera put on. The freezing conditions at gale force winds doing nothing to assist us put in a good performance. In fact at one stage we had to stop in the middle of the test as the arena was blown towards us. He held it together remarkably well for a young horse and came out with a decent score and a middle of the field finish amongst some very strong company. This was, after all, his second Level 5 test ever! The second day and the weather had only gotten worse – while the family at home in Cambridge were sweltering with temps in the high 20’s and humidity in the 80’s, we were freezing with highs in the low teens and those gale force southerlies only strengthening. I made no friends all weekend by pointing out that I was from the South Island and was therefore prepared for the frigid weather with my puffa jacket. I think I had made 42 references to it on last count…
Des was up early in the day with his Musical Freestyle held indoors and I have to say he got up and boogied to the James Bond theme with a huge 66% and some fantastic feedback. By far and away his best test to date.
Gosh of course had a lot to live up to with his performance the first day. Unfortunately our warm up was in the worst weather of the day and with one hand trying to stop my top hat from blowing away things were always going to be tricky. We went in and did OK – my music certainly needs tweaking which doesn’t help however some good work still including a piaffe pirouette to finish that had people talking. We finished 7th however not as bad as that sounds – only 1% covered 3rd to 8th and two judges had me 4th… if we can do this when we’re not on our game…
With the continuing awful weather and average footing outdoors I decided to scratch Des from his afternoon class and save his confidence.
Sunday started early for Des and although he proved himself a competitor by picking up in the arena he was tired and it showed with a rather erratic test and lots of mistakes – we had freestyle flying changes, even one times that he won’t need for probably another 3 seasons yet! A rotten score was tempered by the visiting Australian judge commenting ‘A lovely bright horse with potential, 3 expressive paces and a good quality canter.’ Gosh again didn’t bring his best despite an OK warm up this time – keeping him up for a 3 day show is proving to be tricky and something we still need to work on.
So despite in some ways having our best showing ever I came away slightly disappointed. It would have been great to carry on with the momentum we started with however it was not to be. At least now I know we CAN do it in public and Gosh came away with some fantastic comments from both the local and international judges present. ‘An expressive horse with good future potential.’ ‘Nice to see a forward horse.’ ‘Talented horse.’

The next stop for us will be Waitemata Champs at Woodhill Sands in February. I have decided to leave Des at home for this weekend and just concentrate on Gosh. I also feel that there is not much to be achieved by competing Des in the grade competitions. While the level 5 work is all well established his lack of strength inherent in a young horse will make a consistent showing at those levels too hard for a while. Being the wonderful competitor he is, there is no need to drop him back down for the mileage – instead we will push on at home with training and bring him out again next season when he is good and ready. We will be taking him to Nationals but this time just for the Young Dressage Horse class – one test and a chance simply to show off.