Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The highlight of our equestrian calendar

Frensham Sponsored Ride – one of the biggest highlights of Harry’s and my equestrian calendar, yeeha! It’s a 10 mile cross country course with around 40 solid, inviting jumps, most of which are eminently jumpable by a stumpy-legged cob!

We’re riding with my friend Jane and her lovely Irish Sport Horse, Red. He finds these occasions very exciting, so we decide follow our trainer’s excellent advice by riding later in the day to avoid the crowds, and starting slowly, only jumping when we’re settled.

Well, that’s the theory. It has worked before, but this time we throw caution to the winds and start jumping immediately, and carry on jumping everything but an enormous bullfinch – we figure Red would probably try to clear the whole thing, whilst Harry would try to stop and eat it!

The sun was shining, the countryside is glorious and Harry was jumping like a little skewbald stag, standing right off the fences, making me whoop with delight. As the course switchbacks over ditches and rails, Red throws in some pretty big bucks but Jane gamely hangs on.

Part way round the course we stop for drinks and treats for the horses, which Harry mugs for shamelessly. Then we whiz over a ditch and up a really steep hill, which slows even Red momentarily. We let Red go first, and he likes to give some of them a really good look. Harry, when given his head, stops at nothing. It must be quite alarming for Jane and Red to hear us thundering up behind!

We all finish with huge grins on our faces... We collect our participation award, and then we had to drag our weary bodies home!

Dressage and the video stars!

Harry and Red are going to be video stars! ‘Models’ were required to ride a prelim dressage test for the horseandrideruk.com website, and Jane and I were happy to do it, though dressage is, ahem, not our strongest discipline.

Jane says she never knows whether she’s done a good test or a bad one. Harry is great in walk-trot tests, but finds the cantering a challenge – “what’s a cob to do with his feet on these tiny little circles?”

Jane went first, and Red behaved beautifully. I am her test caller, and as I’m not very familiar with the dressage markers, I sent them off in the wrong direction a few times. Harry, left stuffing himself with haylage while we filmed Red, wanders in. He started off well, but by the second test he’s bored - keeping him going forward was like pushing a heavy boulder up a steep hill!

However, the website crew get their film, which is being sent off to dressage judge Judy Harvey for comments. I have a sneak preview, and am relieved to see we all look fine - not too bad, and definitely not too good. Carl Hester needn’t worry about us yet awhile. Watch out for our dressage performance - coming soon!