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End of season report

04th November 2013
It's November, the clocks have changed, it's now dark when I get on the train to work and dark when I get home in the evenings. This means the eventing season is over in the UK for another year and it’s now time to decide what I am going to do with Trad over the winter in preparation for 2014.

My totally brilliant coach / spinal therapist Jenny wrote a fantastic blog on winter motivation recently and within it she suggests asking yourself some questions about the season so that you know what to work on over the winter. However before I do that I'd like to give a quick run down on the 2013 season, which was my come back to eventing after nearly a 10 year break.

I competed in eight events between June and October, unfortunately due to an injury Trad wasn't able to start at the beginning of the year. However eight events are still more in one season than I ever did previously on Dime back in the early 00’s.

Double clear at Mattingley

We had dressage scores ranging from 35.5 to 54.5. It seems dressage either goes well or it doesn't and the judges either take to you or not. We have improved during the season of that I am sure, not by much but small little things have got better. Unfortunately we came up against three stricter judges for my last few events so my scores don't really represent this, however the fact remains Trad and I have a lot of work to do in this area before next year!

SJ was overall our most successful phase with 6 clear rounds out of 8. The other two were big disasters with a cheeky Trad stopping when I was least expecting it. However thanks to Jenny’s help warming up and a good mid season lesson with Jonathan Chapman we got over those issues with 4 clears in a row. Trad is a very careful jumper but needs to be ridden very forwardly rather than just letting him waltz around the corners. I need to make sure he is going forward, set up early and then not chase in the last few strides.

Well what to say about Trad and his XC? It’s a bit Jekyll and Hyde unfortunately. Eight events, three clears, two events with one stop, one event with two stops, one event with three stops (at different fences) and one elimination. These were quite evenly spread through the year with the clear rounds often splitting the stops, so there was a lack of consistency.

Trakehners were a bit of a problem with three different ones causing us stops, however apart from Purston they were all cleared second time. At Smiths Lawn, Wellington, BCA and Purston they were all cleared at first attempt so trakehners were not always a problem.

Good galloping at Carlton

When Trad gets running he can get long in the body and strong on the hand so when in an open field he can be trickier to steer and set up for some jumps. He’s definitely much easier to set up for a fence when it’s off a turn as I can get him back underneath me. What I need to do is get the same control when in an open space as to when I am coming off a turn.

I also need to remember that before I rode him Trad had not done a clear around a BE100. He’d done about 8 BE90’s clear and attempted a couple of 100’s where he’d had stops. I could have done some more BE90s but for me that wouldn't have been a challenge. For me BE100 level is where proper eventing starts with trickier angles, combinations and fences that look a bit bigger. BE90 and below didn't even exist when I was eventing previously!

Aggressive attack at BCA

Which paid off with a clear XC

So back to Jenny’s questions, what went well and what didn’t?

What didn’t go well?
Dressage – my accuracy on certain movements was quite poor meaning I lost marks, which I shouldn't have done. My ring craft really needs to be improved. Trad’s way of working needs more work for sure but if I could improve my accuracy that would help a lot and it’s something I know I can do straightaway.

Show Jumping – letting Trad coast around in a nice steady canter. When I did this at Smiths Lawn and Carlton that’s when he stopped. I think I have already stopped letting him do this but I need to keep at it and not let it creep back in.

Cross Country – as I mentioned above I need to make sure I have control of Trad and not the other way around. A few of the stops were because I was too slow to react and a more experienced rider probably would have spotted the signs in advance and done something about it. I started to get better but I know I'm not there yet.

Fitness – both Trad and I could have been a bit fitter. We both made the end of the cross country out of breath and although we recovered quite quickly fitter in the first place would have been even better.

What went well?
Logistics – on the whole we arrived on time, with all the right equipment and we were able to walk courses as planned. Being a bit over organised with checklists and having detailed timings worked backwards from XC meant this was something I didn't have to worry about too much.

Being organised paid off with time for studs and plaiting up!

Show Jumping – I know for sure Trad can jump a clear round if put in the right frame of mind from the warm up and when going straight into the ring. The rounds at Wellington, Goring and BCA felt great and Pulborough wasn’t too bad considering the spooking!

Cross Country – water, drops, skinny’s, combinations, corners were all no problem for Trad and maybe surprisingly the time was actually achievable when I rode him more positively. With a bit more positive riding he really improved and I am hopeful for more clears next year.

Having a bit too much fun?

Superstar trainer / groom / spinal therapist Jenny – having Jenny come along for the day from Smiths Lawn onwards was a godsend as she is full of great advice and knows Trad and I pretty well now. It’s going to be difficult to go to an event without her now but I know she's always at the end of the phone if I need to chat about an idea.

Well I think that’s about it, the end of season report seems a bit longer than expected. Overall it’s been great fun returning to eventing and I have enjoyed it very much. Probably even more than when I did it previously as I have a lot less expectation on myself. Big thanks to Lisa for supporting me and putting up with me riding, Mum and Dad for letting me monopolise Trad and to everyone else who has wished me luck, read my blogs and watched my videos!

Don't forget if you want a photo shoot at your yard or competition, a video of your horses / business or a website to get in touch to see how I can help you out!

Next up I'll be talking about my plans for the winter to improve on the things that didn't go so well.

Below are some of my favourite random shots from the season

Jenny celebrating clear at Smiths Lawn

Giving the thumbs up to good friend @Monty_White

Getting instructions from Jenny, obviously I'm a bit confused!

Best coffee on the circuit from @CharlieCoffee

Jenny's phone photo of the last fence at BCA

Trad looking ready to go

Making a nice splash in the water at BCA

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