Tuesday, 25 July 2017

RDA Nationals - Showjumping

This year I had entered the Level 3 jumping competition with Rolo and I was looking forward just to having a bit of fun - Rolo is great fun to ride and even more fun to jump! We had plenty of time to warm up in the collecting ring, although it was a bit irritating that both jumps that were up had to be tackled from the right rein. Rolo was feeling unusually calm so we just had plenty of time to feel loose and free but also sharp and on the ball. Those things sound mutually exclusive but aren't - it's vital to be a bundle of potential energy not just nervous energy!
Walking into the indoor school with Rolo brought back memories of doing the same thing two years before, when a lovely but overzealous official leapt up from a chair on the inside of the (very dark) barn just as we came in from the (very bright) outside world. Rolo nearly had a fit and it wasn't a calm way to enter our dressage test! This year, fortunately, there was no such surprise and Rolo seemed to have forgotten all about it. There was no jump in the indoor collecting ring so instead we just did a few transitions between trot and halt and generally worked on keeping him loose and elastic. Then it was our turn to go!
Riding into the big international arena at Hartpury is quite an experience (the picture above - not of me - goes some way to illustrating it). The building is vast and echoey, like an aircraft hangar. The judge seems to be a very long way away but the spectators seem awfully close. Even the steadiest horses can feel a bit unnerved by the unusual atmosphere but Rolo seemed to be on best behaviour! We walked down to the end, chatted briefly to the steward then saluted the judge and began our trot around. I took a good look at the line to the third jump as we went around, then the bell rang and we picked up canter before heading for the first jump.
Well, Rolo jumped very nicely. He rapped the second jump but it didn't fall (phew!) and he popped over the spread neatly.
At the change of rein we had been instructed to return to trot rather than attempt a flying change, which was just as well as we can't actually do a reliable flying change yet! We then had to pick up canter again for the final line and even though Rolo worried me a bit by leaving the upward transition really rather late we did manage it and popped over the final jumps quite happily.
We cantered through the finish then slowed to a trot before turning down the centre line, halting, and saluting the judge. Job done!
I felt that we'd done fairly well - no jumps down or refusals, a few moments that could have been neater for the style mark, but generally not a bad job. Gratifyingly, the judges thought so too and awarded us 87%, which was enough to win the Senior section and the class overall! It was a lovely way to start the weekend and I'm very proud of Rolo. What a super little horse!

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