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Event Report - BE100 at Smiths Lawn, 6th August 2013

08th August 2013
After only eight days break for Trad and I we were off to Smiths Lawn, one of the more local events as its only an hours drive and also one of my favourites having previously come third in the Novice there back in 2001 with Dime.

Last time out at Carlton we had a tough time with one stop SJ and three in the cross country, so for Smiths Lawn my friend Jenny Grays-Wallis offered to come and give us some help. Jenny is Trad's Spinal Therapist and she is also a professional groom, having previously worked for Gill Watson and groomed for Team GB's junior and young riders many times. By the way you can see Jenny's website here and follow her on Twitter!!

On arrival the first thing I did was walk down the lorry park and speak to Tamsin Drew and her Mum, Angela who had kindly picked up my dressage sheet from Carlton. When I arrived Tamsin had just finished her XC (she was early & I was on late) so she was able to give me a really good run down on the course and what to watch out for. We also were lucky enough to bump into Nick Gauntlett for whom both of us will be guinea pig riders for during a XC demo at Blenheim International Horse Trials (I'm on the 13th September).

After chatting to Tamsin we then went and got ready for dressage. I was a bit slow getting ready as I seem to have lost the spanner we use for putting in the studs which is a tad annoying! However luckily we had a spare in the box. The warm up area for dressage was a little small and nearer the XC than most would have liked but even so Trad warmed up ok and it was reassuring to have Jenny giving me a few pointers.

The test itself was ok, pretty similar to last time out at Carlton in feeling, with Trad having lots of energy but I was able to contain him a little more. There is a lot for us to work on to get him bending, more round and ultimately more engaged from behind but to score 36 was pleasing and consistent with our previous tests. You can see the video and sheet below:

After dressage Jenny, Dad and I went off and walked the XC course. First thing to say was that the location was completely different to previous Smiths Lawn events meaning there was a much nicer route and a lot less twists and turns. Throughout the course walk Jenny was really clear with how she wanted me to ride Trad and how to approach each jump. Basically it consisted of sitting back and pushing him with my leg (a lot) and plenty of reminders with the whip/voice. I was not to let him even think about stopping!! I had been told! I was worried as some of the fences were bigger than we had done previously and the trakehner, corner and water all presented challenges for us.

After the XC course walk it was onto SJ, which after our one stop at Carlton I was more worried about than I let on. Warming up Jenny was getting me to work on setting up the canter a lot earlier on the turn to the fence so that I didn't have to push him on the last few strides and straightaway I could feel a difference. After the first four fences we were foot perfect and jumping better than we ever had done before, which is probably when it started to go wrong...

For fence five there was quite a tight turn and I hadn't used it to set Trad up so I ended up reverting back to my panic kicking two strides out which is far too late. Although he jumped five at number six he stopped. I know I shouldn't have been but I was shocked again and caught off guard! I circled and represented and did exactly the same thing again, totally forgot to ride it! Doh what an idiot! Third time and there was no way he was stopping again so I gave him a couple of mighty whacks with my whip and over he went. He was flying again after this but had to give him another reminder before fence nine. In the end we finished with 12 jumping faults and 14 time... Bugger!!

See the video below and apologies for turning my stick upside down to smack Trad, I didn't realise BE weren't so keen on this (the SJ steward came and had a word with me). I promise I won't do it again...

After SJ we had the usual quick change into XC gear and I was probably even more worried than I was after I walked the course! We went down to the warm up and even the fences there seemed massive but we did our warm up and I tried to put into practice Jenny's instructions. She was probably more fired up than I was and reminded me what I had to do!

Rather than talk you through I'll let you watch the below video for yourself as with my Headcam you can see all the fences!

Assuming you've watched the video you'll know we were clear with a really good round and I'm pleased to say I carried out my instructions to the letter (I was scared not to)! That was a fantastic conclusion to the day and I really enjoyed it.

To have Jenny there was brilliant as she is independent to the family and can tell me what to do without annoying me and also I know and trust in what she's saying as she has evented herself and worked with 100s of top event riders and trainers.

I think she was pretty pleased to hear that we had been clear cross country...

So big thanks to Jenny and as a massive favour to me please could you check out her website and follow her on Twitter, she is really fab!

Massive thank you to Lisa for the video, Mum for the photos, Dad for a helping hand and Nephew William for making me laugh during the day. All your continued support and patience is greatly appreciated.

Next up is Wellington BE100 on the 25th August...


Photo comment By Angela Drew: Enjoyed reading the blog. Even though I was there too I didn't walk the x-c course so it was great for me to accompany you and Trad around the x-c and see how the course rode. It looked like you and Trad had a lovely run and the going looked perfect. Good luck next time you are out .

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