Wales & West
We had two days at Wales & West Showground last week, intending to do the Newcomers 2nd Round there with all three horses.
I had a great journey to Wales, arrived in good time and installed the horses in their stables. The temporary stables at Wales & West are about the same age as me, so a little bit of maintenance (a new bolt on the door) was required to keep Arietta in, but this was soon accomplished, and I set off to my lovely B&B, the Lych Gate in Caldicote.
We had an early start on Thursday morning with three in the Foxhunter in the main ring. Arietta was first up, and she jumped beautifully until I had a mad moment and decided to take a stride out, resulting in a shuffle and a pole down. However, she jumped the rest of the round well, and I was very pleased that she jumped the water very confidently.
BE Khalissy was next and I was very pleased with her, it was a strong Foxhunter and she was just a little green jumping into the first double, and had to work a bit coming out, resulting in four faults. She jumped better and better as the round progressed, so I was very pleased with her.
Askeaton was last of the three, she felt rather fresh and a little bit ridiculous, and clonked out two poles. She feels ready to go back to jumping a few bigger classes now. Not the greatest day on paper, but actually and educational and constructive day, and it was sunny which was a bonus.
By Friday the sun had been replaced with pouring rain. When I walked the course for the Newcomers 2nd round I thought it was a strong 1.25/1.30 from fence two and I decided that for both Arietta and Khalissy it would be too much for them at this stage. With 164 entries I suspected this might be the case, and I think a large number of withdrawals and at least 30 eliminations and retirements endorsed this decision. I think Askeaton could have easily jumped it - but we are still getting our confidence back, and I would rather wish I had jumped it than wish I had not! Luckily the secretariat were very accommodating and all three were swapped to the Foxhunter in the 2nd ring. They all jumped really nice rounds, Khalissy having the first fence and then jumping beautifully, Arietta just tapping one in the jump-off, and Askeaton jumping a lovely round to finish 8th.
It was great to be back at Wales & West after a gap of 6 years. The surfaces and courses are always educational, and although it's sad to see that the big grass ring is now an all-weather, it's probably more popular with riders. It might be nice to have a little more space in the warm-ups, but on the second day they added a grass warm-up which was lovely for warming up and opening the horses up.
It doesn't seem that we've been back very long before we're packing up to go to Chard, but I am hoping the horses are well prepared as we head into the busiest part of the season.
Sadly April is leaving us after three very successful years as she no longer wants to be a Show Groom. We will be so sad to see her go, we have loved having her here, the horses absolutely love her, and she has been brilliant at everything, so I am looking for a very special person to step into her shoes.
As always many thanks to April, the horses are always happy and look stunning, Friday was particularly hard work with the pouring rain, and three horses in a class of only 60. Thank you always to my brilliant sponsors, Saracen Horse Feeds, Protexin Equine, Just Equine Ltd, MacWet Gloves and NDS Equine.