Coolie goes eventing
Four years ago I decided that Coolie was done eventing. It was a gradual decision but we retired from our last comp on jump 4 when he didn't feel quite right and that was it. Coolie has been enjoying a quieter life, spending 2 years mostly bush riding with a little bit of jumping when the mood took us. He has always LOVED jumping and that hadn't changed.
When I was pregnant, I really didn't want to stop riding until I felt ready. I made it to 36 weeks, and that is thanks to coolie. Henry spent a large chunk of the year out of action, so Coolie got fitter, and we went show jumping. He thought it was brilliant, and we had some pretty good success, finishing last year with a total of I think 4 rails and a placing at every comp we went to.
|Like here, winning his class with baby Samuel on board|
This year I have had a little bit of eventing envy, so I have been looking around for events to do. Enter the ARCA Winter Challenge, for adult riding club members. It was a true one day, and even though Husband had show jumping commitments, I was determined to go. So I convinced a friend to help me, gradually got Coolie fit enough, attempted to go XC training so many times and failed each time, sweated as the event got closer and we still hadn't been training, crossed my fingers and decided to trust the years of training we have done (plus we were stepping down to 80, well within our capabilities!).
We had a lesson the Friday before, Coolie had a bath and the day before the comp was cold, wet and stormy. The day of the event was cold but glorious winter sun. How lucky! Dressage was at 9.40, so I woke the baby up early, made sure we both had brekky and then headed to the horses. Coolie was not so keen on the early start but he survived.
I ended up have a very short warm up for dressage, which I think worked. 10 minutes to walk, trot and canter and in we went. We don't do dressage any more but Coolie knows the drill and did a really good test. We were 4th after dressage, which was pretty thrilling. Turns out that not doing dressage is working really well for us!
We had a short break before show jumping so we all whizzed around the XC course, and I was feeling like I was going to get lost for sure! The SJ warm up was tiny. I cant emphasise how tiny it was. Like maybe a 30m circle.... It was impossible to get a rhythm up and Coolie was feeling a little stiff. He really needed a bit more space but what can you do. We went into the arena and got the right canter, but the footing was very deep (so much rain the day before!) and we pulled 2 rails. Not our best round but with a less than ideal warm up and less than ideal footing what can you do.
In our break before XC I decided to just see how Coolie felt in the XC warm up. I want him to feel good and we don't have to jump if he doesn't feel 100%. However, Coolie knew exactly the deal and was loose, fresh and forward. The warm up was so wet so I did what I could, jumped one fence and did a quick canter on better ground before entering the start box.
Coolie got to the box and he was ready. He was calm but his whole body was alert and focussed. The starter said he was the most calm horse they had seen all day! I was so nervous! But I knew Coolie would look after me, and as we settled into a gallop to the first jump, the nerves evaporated and I enjoyed the ride!
|Lots of jumps packed in, and very twisty!|
Coolie was a little backed off to the first 4 fences. The course was twisty, with a hard road crossing between the first 2 fences making it impossible to settle into a rhythm. There was a big gallop stretch after 5 and that settled him, and then he was switched on and hunting jumps. He was foot perfect around the whole course, cruising, jumping, loving being out there!
I did in fact get a tiny bit lost but got back on track quickly before it was a problem, and we cruised home clear and a little too fast.
That feeling, of coming home after a clear XC run, nothing is like it! I was buzzing! And honestly, I can't rave about how amazing Coolie is. At 19, he loves life and XC is such fun for him.
|Always patting my pony!|
We ended up finishing 4th, and won a rug for best and fairest which was lovely and totally unexpected.
|An excited mummy and very tired baby!|
Even though we had such a fun day, it has solidified my decision to show jump. It is a lot of work to event, especially with a small person in tow. Samuel was such a champ all day, he loves the horses and loved playing in the dirt and chatting to all the people. He was as always, very glad his horse won a ribbon so he could play with it!
|All you need is sand and Mums powerade bottle!|