We headed off to Ballarat Horse Trials, with about a million horse rugs and jackets packed! The weather forecast was shocking, and if anywhere is freezing, its Ballarat. Luckily for us we missed most of the worst weather which was on Friday. We copped a fair bit of it driving there, but that was better than riding in it!
Geisha and Hughie were both in the CIC 1*, and I was very pleased with their efforts in the dressage arena on Saturday. They both scored well and did nice calm tests to be sitting about midfield in their respective sections. I have worked out a warm up strategy for each over the course of the season and seemed to be able to get it just right at this event. Geisha: not do much at all, just keep her totally quiet and calm in the mind, and definitely don’t try and fix or tune anything up at the last minute! She could even stand still and rest for a few minutes here and there in her warm up. Hughie: Don’t let him stand around too long, otherwise he sometimes loses his chill factor when you start to work after a rest. Keeping him calm and responsive is the goal and the best way to do this is working him right up until the test and trotting straight to the arena! It’s amazing the difference it makes when you find the right warm up strategy for each individual horse!
The other two horses to compete were Chuckle and Sapphire, both having their EvA 95 debut. Sapphire put in a lovely honest test to score a whopping 82%, with Chuckle not far behind her. They both then proceeded to jump a great clear show jumping round. To finish it off they sealed the deal with clear cross country. Both were a little slow gaining some time penalties but finished very respectably with Sapphire in 5th and Chuckle just behind her in 6th place.
On Saturday night we had a bit of unwanted excitement, with poor Sapphire getting stuck in the portable yards in the middle of the night. We were woken by the clanging of the yards and soon realised the situation. It took three of us about 10 minutes to get her out, it was quite a task and I’m still not quite sure how she managed to tangle herself in the two steel bars quite so much! I wouldn’t have thought it would be possible! Poor girl was pretty sore and had deskinned her back legs, but will make a full recovery with a few weeks off.
Sunday was jumping day for the CIC 1* horses, and jump they both did. Hughie was jumping a very impressive round in the show jumping, clearing everything with plenty of air, until a little bit of bad luck resulted in a big miss at the last fence. I lost my stirrup over the penultimate fence, a double combination; the wet weather had made my good old peacock safety stirrups quite slippery! Hughie did not appreciate when I banged on his back a little landing from the A element, and jumped the B element quite hollow. When I again banged on his back just a bit as I landed he had had enough, and threw his head and leapt off line, putting us off distance for the final fence, and though Hughie tried his heart out he landed on the back rail. I felt awful as it was well and truly my fault and he hates to touch rails, let alone hit them!
Geisha had her turn around the same rather big 1* track, and jumped like a little superstar for a clear round! She tried super hard and I couldn’t have been happier with her efforts.
To finish off, both horses jumped a super clear cross round, making it feel very easy. I am so grateful to have two such brave and honest horses. It is so rewarding to look back at how they have developed into the athletes they are now!
In the end Geisha finished in 3rd place, and Hughie 9th, a super result and a super weekend, considering all four horses placed and we didn’t get pneumonia or frostbite from the Ballarat weather!