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Larkhill Event Report

13th April 2015
First event of the season at long last, Larkhill - probably the windiest place in the world and the only flat area for dressage is on the top of the hill! Not an ideal place to be on a fit and strong eventer!

The day was one with a pretty leisurely start as dressage wasn't until 16:20! However as we had a 2hr drive which took longer due to traffic on the M25 we left the yard about 12:30. On arrival Jenny and I (plus the dogs) went straight to the XC to walk the course which turned out to be a bit stiffer than I expected!! However that's what we need if we’re going to go for Novice this season.

I left Lisa to pick up my number and she caught up with Charlie Coffee & Sophie, John & Tessa from Horses in Sport, unfortunately not much time for me to be social. When Jenny and I returned from XC dad had arrived with Trad (with 5 people, 3 dogs, Lisa's scooter, Trad & all his stuff we need two cars to get to an event now).

Jenny and I had a bit of rush to get ready but in the time it took me to get changed she had tacked up and managed to do super smart quarter marking (by hand - not stencil). Must admit I love having Jenny with us, her grooming skills are second to none!!

Up at dressage Trad had the wind behind him, however did settle and managed to complete a 38 test. A little disappointing as we should now be getting sub 35 every time but looking at the sheet we had been given lots of 7’s which was great but unfortunately a few 5’s & a 4 crept in and that's what cost us. However as it was our first test I'm still pretty happy with him and hope to improve next time out.

SJ is built on the side of a slope - a good test for us as we have improved in this phase over the last year. The course was twisty and involved quite a few doglegs on related distances and lots of turning back on ourselves. Luckily we've done lots of practice in our arena at home so the SJ felt really good and we went clear.

As usual I stuck to my plan for XC of heading straight there from SJ as it’s better than hanging around for ages. When we got to the warm up however they were running late and I had 20 horses on the board before me. The wind was really cold so Trad and I tried lots of walking around to keep warm - it didn't work!

Eventually it was our turn and god knows what's happened to Trad but I nearly fell off before we even started. I walked backwards through the start box and he did a mini rear and tried to gallop off! It seems XC excites him these days!! Once in the start box for real we had some mini leaps on the spot before flying off to the first at about 100 mph! First five fences were no problem if a bit on the fast side. Fence 6 was a sunken road and equated to our only sticky point on the course as Trad stopped to have a look in, however I kept my leg on and managed to kept a bit of forward momentum so no penalties!

The rest of the course felt really smooth, a slight look at the water splash and a bit of an odd stride in the middle of the last combination but neither caused too much concern. Over the line and had a bit smile on my face. Clear well inside the time and Trad didn’t even seem to be puffing or sweating!

In the end we finished on our dressage of 38, for 12th place which turned out be be just two penalties away from a top 10 finish. All I can say is what a great first event of the season and I am so pleased Trad has remembered how to jump in a forward and confident way!

Just a few thank you messages…

- Jenny for grooming and warming me up - total professional at all times and helps me so much. Very lucky to have someone so experienced and knowledgeable on my side.

- Lisa for filming all three phases and did a great job considering she had Otto attached to her (hence a few wobbles in the dressage filming - a bit like his dad he found it a bit boring)!

- Dad and Mum for driving Trad there and back and even putting him to bed for me when they got home.

- The organisers and volunteers who put on a great event.

It was also good to see a few friends at the event including fellow competitors Nicki Strong & Maddi Briggs, Fi Boughton in the XC timing box, Jenny Smith chief organisers of jump judges and the Ultimate Images team including Paul, Louise and Lez.

Next stop is Hambleden in less than two weeks - can’t wait!!


Photo comment By Jack Myszkowski: Very good effort Michael and Trad. You must be really pleased for first event of season. Look forward to seeing you at Hambledon for a catch up - plenty of practice between now and then and you're sure to be placed.

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