Bicton 2019

FEI International CIC 2* Long

Bicton FEI International CIC 2* Long

After our successful run at Gatcombe 2* Short I decided to try the 2* Long at Bicton. I was in two minds as to do it or not but you never know what can happen with horses so decided to go for it.

I’ve groomed at stay away events quite a few times now, so was pretty organised with what to take etc. However we don’t have a nice big lorry to stay in so we had a couple of options…

  1. Sleep in my lorry and/or a tent… hmmm late October in a field
  2. Find somewhere local to stay

Guess which one we opted for! We managed to find a little Airbnb 10 minutes down the road. To say that I was relieved to be able to go back some where warm and have a nice hot shower was an understatement! Chris had made lots of yummy food for the week too.

The first horse inspection was on the Wednesday afternoon so I was going to drive down on the Wednesday morning.

Unfortunately the lorry had taken a bit of a bashing the week before so we decided to take it in to a garage on the Monday morning just to make sure it was useable… it wasn’t, agggghhhhh.

What where we going to do… luckily I have some very lovely friends. Charlotte Curtis you are amazing. You kindly lent me your lovely little van for the week. I can’t thank you enough!

Chris had to work in the morning so off pepper and I went down to Bicton.

I got there in good time checked in with the vet and got settled in to the stable, so had plenty of time to get us both ready for the trot-up.

I have to say that the trot-up was a very proud moment for me. It’s something I’ve been part of before but never as the rider, and I loved it. I was so proud of Pepper as I trotted her up, even if the ground jury did have a giggle at her name as “Miss Louise Holden with her own Snookoms” was announced over loud speaker. I’ve never really said anything about her competition name, it’s not the best I know. Maybe if I’d had known we were going to get to FEI level competition I would have however I was always told it is unlucky to change a horses name. It does also make me smile every time I hear it announced.

Chris arrived shortly after the trot up so we set up camp and got settled in.

Thursday was dressage day. The sun was shining and I wasn’t on until 14.30 which was nice. I rode her in the morning and she was quite tense, so I was quite anxious as she just felt very unridable and not the Pepper I have had for her last few events.

Was very nice to put on my tails again though. I got her down to the warm-up in plenty of time and unfortunately our morning ride hadn’t done much to curb the tension. At this point my thoughts were solely to just try and keep her as relaxed as possible but she was being incredibly fussy with her mouth and every time I tried to use my leg I just got more tension unfortnately.

Deep breath and down the centre line. It wasn’t our finest moment and I was glad to get to the end. Fingers were crossed for a qualifying score as I wasn’t convinced we’d get it! 42.5 was ok, I was disappointed because I know we can do better.

Chris’ mum and her partner Nigel came and watched us which was lovely and after the dressage we walked the xc course in the sunshine.

Friday was a day off for me so I took Pepper for a hack in the morning. She was very unsettled and I decided to try again in the afternoon but it was no better! Chris and I also walked the course again. It was quite a big course so I was a little apprehensive and the ground was ok but then the weather was horrible! We went to the rider meeting on the Friday night, and the Bicton team had assured everyone that it would still run and the ground was ok. That night I didn’t sleep well. The wind was gusting and the rain just kept coming. I didn’t have a good feeling and wasn’t sure if I was looking forward to it or not. We have been lucky with the ground so far and I haven’t done many runs with her in wet going.

I was on at 10am just as the rain started again. We headed down to the warm up with the wheelbarrow buckets, spare gloves etc. Pepper was tense and unsettled she wasn’t listening and kept launching into the practice fences which was not ideal… never the less after a few warm jumps it was time, and we were off.

She was fighting me into the first, at the second she pecked on landing and I saw the ground coming up very quickly… sit back! Luckily she picked herself up and I gave us a talking to, but she was still fighting. The first combination a drop to a skinny went ok but she was just not with me. The horse I had at Gatcombe was definitely not the horse I had now. We got to fence 10 which was a big open corner off of a turn through the hedge line. She clocked the fence judge on the turn and I just didn’t have her attention, we sailed straight passed the corner which was very frustrating, neither of us were enjoying ourselves and we still had the hardest part of the course to do, so I made the decision to retire.

I feel like I just wasn’t riding to my best. The whole week I felt I wasn’t switched on and focused like I had been the rest of the season. Pepper too was clearly not herself. We usually have a great partnership and when I fail her she helps me and visa versa but that just wasn’t the case at Bicton.

I felt gutted that we didn’t get to showjump but looking back I’m not convinced it would have been good as it would have been a big track and if she wasn’t on side would have been disastrous!

I feel like I have spoilt a good season and wasted a lot of money. Not only getting there but also losing a weeks earnings and all the extras! In hindsight I should have gone with my gut instinct, however hindsight is a great thing. After Gatcombe my intial reaction was to do the 2* Short instead of the Long. But I also thought I might not get the chance to do a 2* Long again and we had had a good season so I should go for it. I think it had caught up on us though, we have done a lot of events this season and maybe this was one to many.

I think what I have learned is I should have planned this into my season earlier and built up to it as that will enable me to stay focused and keep up the intesity. Once I had reached Gatecombe I think psycologically I probably checked out a bit. Still, lots to work on this winter!

The week after Bicton we went off on our holidays! My first proper break for about 18 months, we went to Scotland to spend 9 days meeting up with friends and seeing the beautiful countryside.