Most importantly we go home with a happy horse who is fit and well and will be back in the autumn for another four star...
I was very pleased with how Alfie trotted up on Sunday morning. He is definitely stronger than last year and has come out from the cross country very bright which is exciting for the future. I continue to believe that he is a horse who will get better and better with age – just like his jockey!
After the trot up it was off to walk the show jumping, which I felt was up to height with plenty of square oxers right from the first fence onwards, but the ground in the main arena was excellent and I felt it was a fair show jumping test. I was very conscious of the first fence being a square oxer and to watch for that, and also that the second fence, a green vertical heading directly back towards the crowd, could be a line that the horses would not read well – that was certainly the case the year before – so I made a mental note to make sure I cantered near to this line when I entered the ring to ensure Alfie had a chance to assess the situation and give us a better chance to jump it.
Time always flies by on the last day and it was not long before we jumped. We were lucky enough to jump in the afternoon session and I was first up after the parade. As a consequence I wasn’t able to ride in the parade as I needed to warm up Alfie so we could ensure we were ready on time to go straight in.
Alfie felt great and was jumping out of his skin. He jumped a blinder of a round and I felt sure he would have jumped a clear round, apart from a costly error on my part – which led to us knocking two poles. At this level of competition you can’t afford to make mistakes and sadly I did. However, there is no point dwelling on it, the important thing is what I learn from it and take away and tweak in my training and preparation next time.
So we end the event in 18th place, a good performance but not quite what I had hoped for! Most importantly we go home with a happy horse who is fit and well and will be back in the autumn for another four star event, all being well. He is now enjoying a hard-earned holiday. We have also gained our Olympic qualification, with is a plus.
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