I am currently sitting in the glorious French sunshine at Lignieres, has been fantastic weather here this week though maybe a little too warm at times. I have had a few events though before this one, I seem to be struggling to find time to do anything but ride especially as I’ve a couple to gallop for three days which takes time as twice a week.
We went to Burnham the first day with Rubin who was at his first ever event. He is proving to be a promising horse as did a good test and 1 down and clear XC, just in the 90 but he showed a good attitude and enjoyed the day which was pleasing. He is a grandson of Quidam De Revel so is a very good jumper.
I also had Columbo in the 100; he as always did a very good test for 24 but sadly had two down as the jumps were just too small for him. He was very good XC and finished 4th. He is in the in-between stage of too good for a 100 and not quite bold enough for a novice yet, I would do a pre novice plus but there are very few of these unfortunately.
I went with three on Sunday for the intermediate and Bambi in the novice. All the horses, Red, Bertie, Romeo and Bambi did very good tests and were very near the leaders in each section. Romeo jumped beautifully but just had the first part of the combination down as too bold. Bert jumped immaculately and Red very uncharacteristically jumped right in the last combination and my right foot hit two wings to have two down which was a real shame.
Romeo then went very well xc and finished 8th, this was my last run with him sadly as he has gone to Alex Liddle as a junior horse, I’m sure he will excel at this so fingers crossed for them and junior teams.
Bertie was jumped superbly but was slightly green into the first water (I now realise it was very shadowy as they all were the same). I therefore kept coming to the 2nd as the distance is 3 and a 1/2 across it to a small step, well he jumped in so boldly we went 1/2 way and stumbled up the step and catapulted me out of the saddle! I got back on and finished but the top placing was gone, shame as he deserved a good result.
Red was good but ran right in the water and past the red flag for 20 penalties! Bambi was excellent, she jumped a great double clear to finish 6th. They had a decent water complex, (the old intermediate) so especially pleased.
In between events we went to Ireland looking at horses, I am always keen to keep building a team even better than last years so I have just bought a very handsome 4 year old by a son of Cavalier, he moves beautifully and has a good jump so just now fingers crossed the journey goes ok from Ireland to us!
Apart from Romeo going I also have moved on Imp and Elsa (Billy Black Cat). She has gone to Anthony Clarke, I felt a man is needed! Imp has gone back to the person I bought him from Sally Taylor so hope he enjoys retirement from eventing with her…
We went to Moreton Morrell with three, the first time I’ve been there in years, in fact the last time was when Jasper was a novice! It has definitely improved, the courses were good and the 100 was decent which is a good thing as so many are uninspiring. I had Columbo in the 100 and Rubin for his first at this level. Rubin was green as expected but went very well overall, two down but only as he needs to improve his technique, he has lots of scope. He was good XC one run out but plenty to see for his first one and got better as he went around.
Columbo scored 21 in the dressage then sadly one down and few time faults XC to finish 2nd. This was his last run this year I’ve decided as he has gone so well and always placed in top few each event. The ground has gone hard again so enough with respect to this too. Bambi did the best dressage in her section and clear SJ and fantastic XC but they must have wheeled the course incorrectly as I had two time faults for being too fast which made me 4th not 1st!! Very disappointed as she went fantastically.
I had the weekend off eventing before Lignieres which was lucky as you’d be surprised how much stuff you need for one horse and rider especially when not going in your own lorry! Originally I was taking Romeo but he has moved on then Red and Bert but he is going to Le Lion so with just Red and he has to travel in Viviens’ lorry, I was off for a weeks holiday as I didn’t have to be so responsible! I was so tired before we left though, I can’t remember being so shattered everyday for weeks that I must admit I was really looking forward to some sun and sleep. I think with hindsight the move had killed me with so much to do in the busiest part of the season but has been well worth it and asked if I’d do it again the answer would be yes!
We left early Tuesday, I usually drive through the night but was too tired this time so it does mean traffic slower but you don’t get there exhausted. We had a good trip down and arrived at 8pm.
I love Lignieres, it has a great laid back atmosphere and incredibly helpful organisers, nothing is too much trouble and they really want to help/ please us which is lovely. The stables are fantastic, wooden permanent with big overhangs to stop the sunlight. There are surfaces for the dressage and show jumping and the XC is watered and spiked. They also have 7pm drinks each night so very social too!
This was Reds’ longest trip so far and generally coped very well and with the heat. It must’ve been 30 degrees easily each day and no wind so really was very hot, I even had shorts on all week and time to sunbathe!! (In-between plaiting etc as I didn’t take a groom as 3 of us for 1 horse seemed enough!).
Red worked well each day and I was careful not to do too much with him as so hot, so I’d do 2 x 30 minute sessions and this worked well. He did his test at the hottest part of the day on Friday and apart from a couple minor mistakes I was very happy and so a little disappointed to be given 49.6 but it was quite evident that in the heat and the serious 2* xc course it wasn’t going to be a dressage competition.
Thankfully it was only 8 30 minutes as it was certainly 30 degrees Saturday and in the warm up there was no shelter. The ground was very good and some is even part of the racecourse so fantastic. The course is typical French, very angled and lots and lots of skinnies. The water complex at fence 5 was pretty serious, when we watched Michael Jungs’ 4* horse go through it very stickily we knew that it would be influential! There were also angles at 3 and 4 (after a big drop number 2!) Then a double of skinnies the first an interspace 8 and 9, 10 an angled hedge and so on and so on. We even had a bounce into water and still more skinnies and angles after!!
I went near the end so had plenty of time to watch the thrills and spills which were all over the course as expected. The horses were also looking tired as so hot so I planned with Red to go positively but not to push too hard as I really wanted a qualification. I felt this was overdue as he is 9 next year and really should’ve gone to Houghton but had a pollen allergy. I was anxious when I walked the course to make everything as straightforward as possible as there were so many places to run out so I planned to do one long route which took an extra 4 seconds I guess. He warmed up fantastically, again I was careful not to do too much as a tough ask coming up. He set off well but strong. Wasn’t usually as strong and was fighting a little but jumped the first 7 well including the water complex which had caused some difficulty ( a big fence in, 3 or 4 strides up a big step then a long stride or 2 to a skinny would you believe!). We got to the interspace skinny and he ran out to the right, has never done that before and I was rather shocked I must admit but went the long route and carried on. 20 penalties is still a qualification. He was still very strong and never really settled which I don’t know why and in the heat surprised me. He jumped very well over the next 14 fences when we got to a turning combination, a big table then 5 forward strides to a skinny on a right hand turn. Well we jumped the table well and was good for the skinny when just on takeoff he suddenly dived left and half jumped the fence and hit it behind causing me to fall off the left hand side with my foot still caught in the right stirrup somehow. My jacket blew up thankfully (I nearly didn’t wear one as so hot thank god I did) and saved me from breaking my collarbone or a dislocated shoulder for sure. Somehow thankfully Red knew to stop and I got my foot out the stirrup and walked off battered and bruised and pleased he didn’t run off or it could’ve been a different story. I have no idea why he did it but will be practising lots and lots of skinnies before next season!!!
I think only 40 showjumped out of 66 starters which is quite a high casualty of faults but don’t be put off it is such a lovely event and I’ll be back next year with my best angle jumpers! They also have other classes, CIC 1* too and maybe more next year.
I am off riding for a few days to let my body recover so will make the most of the sunshine and begin to book up teaching clinics in my spare time this winter! Please contact if interested.