Perth Horse Trials - Wooroloo

Having never been to this event before (shock horror!) I was blown away at how big it was. Huge shout out to the organisers for undertaking a mammoth task so well and for a great weekend!

Saturday was wet and windy, making for a horrible day to do dressage. We got there early to get the lay of the land, and find out where everything was.

Got on with plenty of time to warm up for my test, expecting her to be her usual relaxed self in the warm up, but there was a lot of atmosphere, bad weather and star level riders making her tense. She was obedient and kept her head, she just didn't want to relax.

Headed over to the second warm up and she was still tense. There were (and always are) riders who wanted to run us over and had no regard for others warming up. I spend a great deal of time avoiding people who aren't looking where they are going, rather than working on what I need to. The ground was also very slippery, and it was just generally unpleasant.

We headed into the arena, and whilst she was very tense she did everything she needed to. she picked up the wrong canter lead on the right rein which is something she only tends to to when she is stressed, but we fixed it quickly. I was relieved when it was over, and disappointed as I was hoping on improving but knew our score would be terrible.

OH and I then found some lunch and had a chat to some people about adopting greyhounds! We also enjoyed some very warming mulled wine before heading off to walk the course.
Mulled wine!

Having not been to Wooroloo I wasn't sure what to expect but I had a fair idea it would be tough. I wasn't wrong, with some big fences and challenging terrain. After the walk, there wasn't anything I was too concerned about, just how she would cope with the terrain, and fences 3 & 4 were to height and something we would usually see later in a course.

XC was first on Sunday, and thankfully the weather was far kinder. I allowed plenty of time to warm up, making sure she had breaks and was off my leg. The course seemed to be causing a few issues, but I wasn't too worried, D is pretty bold.

Over the pheasant feeder
We headed over to the start box and were counted down. Cantering to fence one, we passed a horse coming to the final fence in the opposite direction which caused D to be a bit spooky. then between 2 and 3 she had a good look at the marquees of the trade village and all the people there. She jumped 2, a big pheasant feeder beautifully. 4 was a cottage which caused issues for many people. The rider before me was having issues there and so I shouted I was coming. The rider got out the way, but D was again distracted by the other horse. I pointed her at the fence and she popped it well.

5 AB was a combination of big logs going down the first hill. She was a bit wary after the last 2 fences so I was encouraging and she flew them with her usual enthusiasm.

Down to 6 was hard work. She was spooking at a car, and finding the steep slippery terrain very hard going. I brought her back to a trot and just popped her off the bank, then over the little fort.

7 was a brush oxer that she had no troubles with, then over a roll top before galloping up the hill to a log and then onto the water. She cruised through the water and over the brush and back down the hill to a chevron. I was having to work pretty hard to keep her balanced down the hills, but she was being very honest. 12 was a big log. I mean BIG log. At the bottom of a slippery hill. As we approached, she slipped and backed off. I felt for sure she was going to stop. I put my leg on, thinking Go D, go! And she went!!! By this point in the course, she was feeling challenged. It was tough and the ground was testing her.
Don't be fooled, it's bigger than it looks!

13 was a drop, bank, brush combination which she attacked with enthusiasm. Back up the hill to 14, a little let up log, which I think she was very thankful for. 15 was a log stack, 16 a ski jump, back down the hill to a trakenher. She felt a lot more confident down this slope and flew over everything with great enthusiasm. The last 3 fences were back up the hill and we had no problems with them, only getting a little bit fast. We came home clear with a few time penalties.

Being a 3 day event, there were vets at the finish taking heart rates by temps. Dakota was within the normal range and did her usual strut back to the float where we cooled her down and fed her lots of carrots before show jumping.

Warming up for show jumping I realised how keen and fit this little mare is. Galloped around the hardest cross country course of your life an hour ago? No worries, I could do it again! I spent my warm up making sure she wasn't rushing and I didn't have the handbrake on.

I had a plan for show jumping, starting with making sure she had a good look at what was going on outside the arena. The arena was right next to the trade village. There were a lot of people, tents, a bouncy castle and a million flappy signs all making for a spooky, distracting environment. I cantered her past it all before heading to fence one.

So much happening outside the arena
She jumped beautifully, although was having a good look at everything happening around her. we took one rail, the only jump facing toward the trade village, and I saw a long spot and she took a short spot. I didn't wait for her and I should have.
Star pony putting in a big effort
After I was done, my legs turned to jelly and I was exhausted! I can't imagine how D was feeling! She got more carrots and I met up with Super Groom and my coach and helped her get ready for her fist XC round on her new horse. OH and I helped cool Fitzy down in the 10 minute box, something I've not done before. After all that we headed home with 2 tired humans and a less tired horse.
Fitzy and his minions in the 10 minute box

I learnt a lot this weekend. I have an incredible horse. I already had a fair idea about that, but she proved herself to be willing and confident in a big atmosphere. She coped so well with everything the weekend threw at her and showed me she loves doing what she does. There is so much room for improvement still, but 12 months ago I would not have expected her to be where she is today.

I didn't achieve all my goals for the weekend. The dressage still needs a lot of work. Over the summer I will make sure to get her out to as many arenas, training days and dressage comps as I can to get her comfortable in an arena. There are improvements to be made in XC and SJ too, but I am so thrilled with how she is progressing and how she answered the questions of the most challenging 80 course she will probably see. I can't think of a harder one in WA!

Next event is Fairbridge (Alcoa CNC) where both red ponies will be out doing their thing.

This scope is starting to be pretty effortless


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