Jorge was selected for Blue Hors CPEDI*** in Denmark at the beginning of March. He travelled really well, thanks to our support team who went with them on the journey. We flew out there and joined them when they arrived. The venue is beautiful. I’ve been lucky enough to visit a couple of times before, once on a tour after the Europeans in 2013, then for the Global Dressage Forum in 2014 where I rode one of the stud’s horses.
The horses had everything they needed, beautiful stables, hot showers, heated indoor arenas. And the people who run the stud are just as lovely and kind. Jorge felt great in training, sometimes it’s hard to know how much to do with them after a long journey and not many days until trot up and competition beginning. He looked great in the trot up, despite the dodgy colour of his coat, he always goes slightly tabby coloured when getting his new coat through, and his summer coat is nearly black so it looks quite funny.
The first day of competition and he was full of it. He’s always been a slightly nervy horse, but this time he went in and stepped up, becoming a little hotter than expected. Normally I ride at home without spurs on all the horses. The main reason being that I make sure they are truly in front of my leg, so that when I have bad days with my legs and they are very painful and or weak, due to my disability, I have something extra I can put on and they respect, rather than relying on them all the time. In competition with Jorge I normally start warming up without spurs and then put them on during the warm up before the test, knowing often I need a little more in the test and due to the added tension my legs have a habit of letting me down in the arena, as it’s nerve related and even the weather can affect them. So keeping my calves warm is also quite important. Anyway, aside from that, because Jorge stepped up in the arena, I had to coax him round a little quieter than expected, and try and get a bit of relaxation. It went ok, not ideal but also not bad, and he won on 73% in the Team test, but not near his best. So the next day for the individual, I changed my warm up slightly and made sure I had time in the arena before the bell rang, to try and get him to breathe before starting! Always a good start! It was much more secure, still areas I felt could be better, but generally much more pleased with the work in the arena. The judges agreed and awarded it with over 75%.
It was great that we had the most riders in the Grade 5, Team Denmark took a strong contingent, being on home turf, but some great horses coming up for the future, and also Germany were strong. GB won the team competition for which we were very happy!
For the Freestyle I was doing my WEG freestyle which I’ve only done twice in competition, and I was determined to put to bed a couple of trips and spooks he had in it at WEG that prevented a really high mark. The test was going really well until the end where I have two lines of tempi changes, he started putting them in himself, to the point where we had a few 1s. I then had a spare line at the end for any compulsories that needed repeating but I was pleased with them, so I thought I would use it as a training opportunity to nail the changes again and make him realise it’s my job to be director, not him! Unfortunately despite my best efforts, he took over again and showed some great 1 tempis.
I just had to smile, laugh and shake my head. I can’t fault him for his enthusiasm!! So a disappointing mark of 76% in the freestyle, we were 5% off our personal best, but also showing our best work in the arena too. But with it being the first show of the season, we have time to work on that and hopefully direct his enthusiasm positively in future!