Alex's March Blog

When I sat down to write this I thought it had been quite a quiet month, however this looks like one of the longest blogs I’ve written! To say that this has been a month of ups and downs would be an understatement, with event cancellations, lameness and international travel it has certainly been full of highs and lows!

On the 6th I flew out to the Netherlands to trial for a place on the team for the World University Championships. 5 of us had been selected based on our results in SRNCs over the last 2 years. Over the course of the day I rode 8 horses, my legs weren’t very happy the next day! We started off with a dressage lesson where we each rode 2 horses for about 15mins each, in the competition this is about the time we get to assess the horse and ride the test so it was a good gauge to see who was the most adaptable. Next we had to ride 2 dressage tests simulating the second and third dressage rounds. My first test was the same one that I rode in the second round of the SRNC in November so that was comforting! I had a lovely big black horse who was quite hot and took quite a lot of relaxing. The second test was more difficult and included half pass, walk pirouettes and a flying change. I rode the sweetest horse Robin Hood and it was so lovely to be able to ride the test knowing that I was sat on a horse that knew what he was doing. After a break for lunch we moved on to the show jumping. Again we started with a lesson riding 2 horses in about 30 minutes, one of them had a dressage saddle so that was interesting. After this there were two rounds of show jumping ad second and third round height. For my first round, the 1.05m course I had a lovely chestnut mare, I was a little nervous so didn’t completely trust her and had 1 down. Then for the second round the fences were 1.15m, I’ve never jumped a course that big on my own horses let alone on an unknown horse! Luckily I had Robin Hood, the dressage horse from the morning, and he carried me round with one down and a run out where I forgot to stop turning! At the end of the day I was just glad I’d survived and stayed on, the team was announced and I was selected as the reserve rider!
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On the 9th we had our varsity competition with the other university in Leicester, De Montfort. I drew Gavin for the dressage, who is quite tense and doesn’t like to work into a contact. I was shocked that he went really well and saw that we even got a 10 for our halt at the end. I think my face shows how surprised I was that he behaved. I rode a clear show jumping round on Bourbon and just lost out on style marks. Overall I finished 7th and the A Team won.
(Pictures taken by Abi Thornbury)
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On the 10th I went up to London for the University of Leicester Alumni Dinner. As a Sport Scholar I was invited to attend at a discounted price (always good for the student budget). It was held at Claridge’s and it was a lovely opportunity to meet some of the people who fund the scholarships and to get dressed up, especially as I spend most of my life in jodhpurs!
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As for eventing, Pheobe was supposed to go to Tweseldown on the 12th for the BE100 and her first event of the season, but unfortunately due to heavy rain it has cancelled. We then entered the 100+ at Munstead on the 26th, but this time were waitlisted and so didn’t get to run; but after seeing the weather I was quite glad we didn’t go.

We’ve entered Larkhill on the 9th April and have had conformation that we’re in so hopefully the event season can finally get started!

I also took Pheobe to the Pony Club Winter League Show Jumping Areas on the 25th. We had a stop in the 1m warm up class, when I tried to fit 6 strides in a 5 stride distance and she very sensibly told me that wasn’t going to happen! In the 1.10m she jumped really well, I just got her a little deep to one and she had it down. I can’t believe how well she jumped, if there had been a 1.15m I would happily have taken her round, which is I big thing for me to say as I’m usually a wuss about height (or maybe it’s confidence from trials).
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Maria hasn’t been up to much as around the middle of the month she developed a soft swelling on the inside of her hock. It was a little warm and soft and got bigger when she went out in the field, so we kept her in just to make sure she didn’t make it any worse; luckily I had plenty of Likits for her to keep her busy. When we got the vet out he said it very common in trotters and nothing to worry about, so if she stayed sound to keep working her.
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On the 31st, however I managed to get both of them out to the Eventers Challenge at Tweseldown. Maria was entered in the Pre Novice as it was her first run cross country since September. She started off surprisingly calm until she saw another horse go cross country and then she realised where she was. She jumped a lovely double clear although a bit speedy, picking up 10 too fast time penalties, and finished with a huge grin on her face. She finished 7th in her class. Pheobe had a go at the Novice, I knew the show jumping wouldn’t be a problem, but I was a little concerned that we had to jump into water! She had one down in the show jumping where I just let her run on a bit, but she jumped amazingly cross country, confident and actually keen. At the water she had a good look at the duck jump in, but went, and then happily trotted through the water after. We picked up a lot of time penalties as we had a few directional issues and she’s not the speediest, but we still finished 10th. So proud of both of them and hope we can report on some eventing next time!
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Alex x

Written by Alexandra van Randwyck, #teamlikit at 21:00, 04 April 2016
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