Bonnie Fishburn - 2015/2016 Winter

So when I last spoke to you the horses had all had their winter holidays and were back getting ready for the 2016 season. Also I had backed and ridden away my new 3 year old and he was then having a little holiday to take in everything he had learnt. Well now we are pretty much flat out here at Dodcott Grange Stables. Frankie is into his 13th week walking and trotting on the road, having suffered a little set back in July last year. Florence and Percy have been out dressaging, arena eventing and kicked off their event season. And finally Elfie has had 6 weeks break and is now back in steady work in the school, having little hacks, starting jumping and been out to a few parties. Busy little bees!!!

Florence and I had our first outing of 2016 to Field House for a BD competition in the middle of January. The first test was Novice 22 and Florence was golden but I just gave a few marks away by being half asleep and not on the ball, think I was still sat at the dinner table filling my face with turkey and still on holiday mode. We scored 68.97% which was just over 2% behind the leader. A very close marking section. In the next test which was Novice 37 I was a little more switched on, but in that one Florence had a mini explosion when I asked for too much in the medium trot. That was a very expensive mistake because we were scored a 4 for that medium trot but 7.5 for the next one and we were just 0.5 of a mark off the leader on a 66.79% for 2nd place. But not a bad start to 2016 and she had only been schooled 4 times since her 6 weeks holiday.

For my second outing of the year I took Percy and Florence to Prescott for BD competition. Percy was chuffed to bits to be out but perhaps a little disappointed that he didn't get to jump after his test!! Percy isn't registered BD so I just went in the unaffiliated with him. I was actually pretty chuffed with him, there were a few errors but he behaved better than expected. We did Novice 22 and 39. He scored a 67.07% and 62.41%. I was happy enough with the first percent but thought the judge was very harsh in the second test. Florence did the same tests and had a 70.34% and 67.93% good enough for 2nd in both. Apart from a few whinny's to Percy she was a very good girly. 

For our first jumping outing I headed to Kelsall Hill Equestrian Centre for a little play over their Arena Eventing courses at the end of January with Florence and Percy. Because they hadn't been out jumping for such a long time I entered Florence in the 90cm and Percy the 100cm. Florence absolutely flew round the course until the 15th fence which was a skinny, not too sure what happened, but she took her eye off the game briefly. Popped it fine next time and finished the course in a good time for 10th out of 50. Percy was delighted to be out and was a complete pro once he'd finished spooking at everything!!! There were so many fences in the arena and he'd have jumped everything if I'd have allowed him to. He jumped a great double clear but I didn't let him go too quickly, so had 6 time penalties to finish up in 14th spot out of 42. Not a bad first jumping outing of the season.

Then a trip to Field House Equestrian with Florence and Percy, for their British Eventing Arena Eventing competition. The course had water, ditches and steps. A 23 fence course in total. My two loved it!!! Both Percy and Florence jumped a speedy double clear to finish 2nd and 3rd in a class of about 20. Percy had great pleasure in telling his sister he'd beaten her as we arrived back at Queen Wendy the Wagon after the prize giving, which was a rather eventful lap of honour.

Florence and I next headed to Myerscough College for the British Dressage Regional Finals at Open Novice level. She had been going really well but when we arrived at the warm up arena she had a mini meltdown because there were 13 horses in the warm up area, which is a relatively small space for 5 or 6 let alone 13!!! Anybody that knows Florence has probably seen how she can react when other horses get too close, so this was like her worst nightmare. It was just typical that the arena was so busy for our warm up, earlier in the day there had been 3 or 4 in at any one time and it was the same later on. But for some reason people thought it was acceptable to use that arena to school in even if they weren't competing in that class. There were even people that weren't even competing at the show riding. To be fair when our time came to do our test she did go into the arena and settle quite nicely and did a sweet and accurate test but I just didn't feel we'd had a great warm up to get the best out of her. She came out with a 63.9% which was very disappointing and her worst score ever at a BD competition. Not a good day, it was such a shame because she's been doing so well up until then.

Next was another trip with Percy and Florence to Field House for their BE Arena Eventing. They both jumped the BE100. Florence felt like she was loving it and jumped a super double clear, despite me almost going the wrong way at one point. But my little error did cost us one time penalty. Percy also jumped a good double clear, he was really pinging the show jumps. He was 4 seconds under the time but still only finished 8th. There was some speedy hot competition.

Next up was Elfie’s first ever party. He had a go inside the white boards. It was the first time he'd ever been in an arena with other horses to work and he was a little shy at first but soon got used to it and was so brave and warmed up beautifully. When we went in for the test, the one thing he did take a disliking to was the judges box, which was a little bit of a problem because whenever we were down that end of the arena we were rather wobbly. But there were some really lovely moments away from the box. 60.8% wasn't a bad score for his first ever test. Plenty of room for improvement but I was delighted that he coped so well with the party atmosphere.

It was Florence’s turn to shine next and we headed to Prescott Arena for her second ever play at BD Elementary. She was a bit of a diva warming up and determined to think we should be out eventing by now and thought perhaps we were there to practise our cross country!!! But we went in to the Elementary 40 and she was lovely and cooperative for a 66.45% to win the bronze section and also win Overall. We then had Elementary 59, which is the most tricky of the elementary tests. We are still very new at this level and need a few more miles on the clock, but we gave it ago and got some good marks along the way but need more practise at movements like the simple changes where we broke on the right rein and got 4's. But it will come with time and patience. We scored a 62.8% in that one.

Our next outing was a bit of a drama!!! Horses are such great levellers. It's amazing how many emotions they can give you in a day and how a simple little excitable moment can end in such a nasty and painful way. I had Florence and Percy competing at the Wynnstay Hunt Team Arena Eventing. But our day got off to a horrible start with one of our members horses having an excitable buck after a fence sending rider John Done out the side door. Unfortunately he landed on his feet with an almighty crack. He was airlifted to hospital with an open fracture, where he was operated on and had a rod and 6 pins to mend his broken ankle. Luckily that was the last of our dramas and we managed to jump 3 clears between Emma Rarity, Hayley Mayer and myself on Florence to finish 3rd. We then had a big shuffle round for the 100cm class as we had no John or daughter Amanda Dakin. So Hayley and Molly rose to the challenge and jumped fab clear and Lottie Williams jumped a super speedy clear. Then I rode both Florence and Percy. Both were clear although Percy somewhat wild!!! That was good enough for 1st place. All in all the "Pretty in Pink" team had a day of dramas but jumped 7 out of 7 clears.