The theme for this season has been weather. We all know that eventers need to get used to it or find a different sport but this season had some real challenges. When in February and March you find yourself enduring snow, bitterly cold temperatures and howling winds whilst trying to do your pre-season fitness work you do start to wonder if you’re totally mad. Tweseldown Novice at the beginning of March was the first target and I was really lucky that I’d jumped round their Novice Eventers Challenge at the end of January and then made it to a Combined Training at Coombelands at the end of February.
The cold weather caused the cancellation of everything else we had planned and I was very glad to have kept on top of Cicero’s fitness over the winter and also had Sarah’s support, otherwise missing a lot of work in February could have made it very difficult to get to Tweseldown. Instead we got there with Cicero in fine form and were very lucky to get a run as the rest of the competition was abandoned after the Novice. One thing I had worked very hard on over the winter was Cicero’s flat work so I was quite disappointed to score a 35 in the dressage! After watching the video back I felt that I would just ignore the score as his work looked flash to me… nerves got the better of me in the show jumping and I went too fast to have two down. We finished cross country clear with just 3.6 time penalties so I was happy that we’d made a huge improvement on his fitness from last year!
The next event was cancelled so we re-routed to Chilham. This was an interesting challenge for Cicero who is not built for hills… He only has a very small amount of thoroughbred in his breeding and I can really feel him having to dig deep when we do hill work. We agreed that Sarah would see Cicero before and after Chilham to see what effect it had on him and we were very pleasantly surprised that he came out in such good shape following the event. On the day itself he was firing on all cylinders, producing a 29 dressage, one show jump down and clear cross country with 4 time penalties to finish 8th. I was so pleased because the ground was very wet and it rained all day but Cicero pulled his socks up and looked after me, despite it being his first visit to Chilham and hills not being his favourite thing!
We were then back to Tweseldown for their May event by which time it had finally stopped raining. This time we did a 31 dressage (it wasn’t a great test – I think Cicero gets a bit bored at Tweseldown), one down show jumping – I rode too quickly again, and clear cross country for 0.8 time penalty! We finished 9th… nothing if not consistent!
Full steam into June, we had BCA and Farley Hall in the calendar - both fairly local events I really enjoy! I’ve discovered I’m not great when complacent… Cicero was very cheeky at BCA and bucked his way through the dressage for 34 (I felt that was quite generous because whatever he was doing, it didn’t feel like dressage). The show jumping is in a very small arena (getting my excuses in early) and I managed to turn very tightly to fence 4 which gave Cicero no chance of jumping it. We left all the poles up so just 4 penalties for having to re-present. We got ourselves together on the cross country and made it round clear inside the time, so between us we got one phase right! We finished on 38 which was only good enough for 12th which shows how competitive the Novice sections are.