Our Sponsee Taggy did a fantastic job last week when she placed first in one of the first events of the season. before competing again this weekend, Taggy wrote us a blog reflecting on her last competition as she looks ahead to the weekend.
"Saturday 7th march finally arrived the start of the 2015 eventing season. The night before I was hardly able to sleep, I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve! I was full of anticipation and couldn’t help but wonder if I was ready for our first event. I didn’t feel ready!
The event was to be held at Moreton in Dorset. I went with Rachel Struel who has trained me for years and was acting in as my driver/trainer/psychotherapist/groom and parent as my family couldn’t make it. It took us 3 hours in the Horse box to get to Dorset so in this time I had a look online to see who else was in my section in the Open Novice. Noticing that I was in a very strong section I reminded myself that today’s plan wasn’t to aim for a placing but to get to know my new horse and go clear around the cross country phase as I need to do this twice so that British Eventing will allow me to go up a level to Intermediate.
We arrived at Moreton in plenty of time so that I could walk the cross country twice before I rode round it. Moreton is said to be a good first event as it isn’t too technical across the country, but up to height. All the jumps seemed huge to me as I haven’t jumped a novice track since 2013 because last year I was riding younger horses. When I was walking back to the Horse box after, I passed Christopher Burton who rode Moo last season, after introducing myself I asked him if he had any tactical advice for me and he did, which was very helpful as it gave me an insight to what to expect. I am very grateful for this.
My dressage time came round quicker than I thought, but I felt surprisingly calm as I wasn’t under a lot of pressure, I just wanted to perform as well as we could at this point in our training. I felt that I was more competing against myself than concentrating on how well the others did. Moo was very fresh and excited warming up as it was her first time working on grass since last season and she knew what the day had in store! I liked her enthusiasm but was eager to get the tickle out of her toes before we went in.
Overall I was very pleased with how the test went, the arena had deep mud in the corners from where the others before me had been so I avoided these patches the best I could sacrificing accuracy for consistency in the work. There are a few movements I have been working on in the training at home, which can be improved further, but on the hole I was pleased with how Moo carried them out in the test. I scored 24.5 in the dressage ( lower the better) it is the best mark I have ever received for a dressage test in eventing but I didn’t know my score until the end of the day, so I still wasn’t under pressure to be competitive, I was just focused on being the best version of myself on the day.
40 minutes later I was off to show jumping. Moo is a very careful mare and she pinged around the course of ten 1.20cms show jumps, adding nothing to the dressage score. Which I was very happy about as showjumping is a phase which penalties can be easily picked up in.
A quick change into my cross county colours and back protector and off to our biggest challenge yet, twenty two Solid 1.10cm cross country jumps including water, ditches, steps and hedges.
I knew the course and remembered all the training leading up to the event and the advice I had been given on the day, I finally felt ready for the challenge!
Chills went down my spine as I was being counted down in the start box, 3…2…1 off you go! Off Moo went! She flew round, it was amazing to ride such a capable horse, and she loved every second. I crossed the finish line just 4 seconds outside the time so picked up 4 time penalties.
The commentator announced that I had gone into the lead, which took me by surprise as I hadn’t heard my scores yet, but with still half the section left to go I wasn’t expecting to stay on top.
However having scored the best dressage mark in the section and only gaining a few time penalties I stayed in No.1 position. Our first event together, a new personal best dressage score and my first win in a British trial. Couldn’t have asked for any more!"