Yes, you read that correctly, Dante & I have finally cut the cord, we are officially out competing. Over the weekend we took part in our first unaffiliated ODE & holy shirt, the nerves !!
There were a lot of ups & downs during our preparations for our One Day Event, the week prior consisted of a lot of headless humans running around the yard, setting out Dressage arenas, setting up jumps, to lessons with Jer & Sue to prepare!
What is an ODE you ask? Well it is a single horse and rider competing in all 3 horse riding disciplines, Dressage, Show Jumping & Cross Country.
From learning the wrong dressage test, to not having jumped any Cross Country fences for at least 4 months. Keep reading to find out how we got on in each discipline, & how we pulled it off & got placed 2nd!
I will start off by saying this is my least favourite out of the 3. Dante is not the most willing horse to accept the contact, if you have been following us you will know how much work I have to do to get him to use himself properly. It can be torture at times!
As I wanted to challenge him slightly in his jumping abilities, we had to enter the 1m class, the only downfall with this is that I had to do the Novice Dressage test.
Being our first ever dressage test, and me being quite the ditz, I of course learned the completely wrong test to begin with, having a massive panic attak on Friday two days before the event forcing Coach Sue to come out and give me a quick run over on everything flat work related. After her tough instructions & excellent tips by the end of our hour session I had the correct test mastered & was slightly less nervous about doing it on Sunday!
Sue’s Tip: When transitioning to canter, keep your outside leg back the entire time until you are transitioning down to trot, this will not only help your horse cue a trot transition, but it will also help your horse stay in canter until your leg is placed forward.
Due to dreadful weather conditions, and no stud holes in Dante’s shoes, we were faced with doing our test under quite slippy ground conditions. Typical Irish weather, it stays sunny for 2 months & the one day you decide to do an event on grass it pours down from the heavens! We managed to cope, with a lot of our comments saying “unbalanced” – I am surprised they didn’t say well done for staying on him!
He was quite sceptical of his surroundings looking at everything he was moving forward but was also moving away from the outline of the dressage ring, it was a really awkward feeling to try ride him correctly, but overall I couldn’t have been more proud of him. He really did try his heart out. We scored a 55.4% which for our first ever dressage test, I am delighted with! And for a novice test at that too!
As we moved on from our dressage test, we walked back to the box to put our martingale, boots & the most important Jesus (neck) strap back on before going in to practice for our showjumping round.
This is were a few risks were taken. We went up to the jumping practice area & as Dante tried to move up into canter the ground had him slipping everywhere underneath him. I mean I nearly pooed myself, I thought we were going over on our side. With this I walked down to the jumping arena, which was also on grass.
After walking around the outskirts, the ground was in much better condition than the practice area. So we took a massive risk & jumped straight into our round, having already warmed up from the dressage test, I just bit the bullet & went for it. At this stage I wasn’t really planning on placing anywhere considering I was ready to quit due to the weather & him not having any studs in.
This horse never fails to surprise me. He jumped out of his skin. Approached everything with such care, and the cheeky brat even began to show off over the fences. The comments from people watching he was practically jumping everything as if the fence was up on the top hole of the wing. He is really starting to come into his own when it comes to his jumping, I could point him at anything he is so honest.
Finishing his round, I was delighted. I knew I never had anything to worry about when it came to his jumping, this is really where he shines & comes into himself.
Sit back & hold him with your legs, your legs keep him balanced helping him flow smoothly around the course of fences. Jer’s words are forever in my head anytime I jump a course!
Dante had a well deserved packet of polo’s & a good 30minute rest before we took part in the last part of our ODE, our Cross Country. I really wanted to call it a day after our showjumping. He went so well & I didn’t want to push my luck with him.
With an outfit change, fresh numnah and his XC boots on we headed in to walk the course. I yet again was quite unprepared. I knew fence 1-4 out of 10 luckily I was last up so I got to watch everyone before it was my turn.
Watching people is one of my go-to ways of learning courses!
Our turn quickly approached, as we walked in Dante began to get that spring in his step, it didn’t help that half way down the field a speed boat kept speeding up & down the lake, this was quite the distraction & caused us quite some time to get going as he began bunny hopping away from the start of the course to try get out of things but with a quick boot on forward we were off!
Once we got going we were both in our element. From jumping fences from practically a walk to trotting in calmly to fences that freaked me out, we both started getting into the swing of things as we got half way around the course, We even jumped the big scary yellow man fence – the one fence I was 100% positive I was going to take the time faults for before I even entered the field! But we did it, we finished the course!
This horse is something else, we both really click & give each other the confidence and the boost we both sometimes need. The trust we have in each other is really coming along. And I couldn’t be happier. To top everything off placing 2nd overall really set our sights high – we are certainly off to a great start.
Once back to the yard, I undressed Dante of all his travelling equipment, gave him a quick leg wash as he had a lot of dried in muck around his hooves and applied a quick layer of Leg clay to his back hocks.
Applying the leg clay wasn’t due to injury, he is quite the bad traveller, always whacking and cutting himself in the box even with his travel boots on, and with such a long day competing, something that he wouldn’t exactly be used to, it is better safe than sorry!
A massive thank you to Daffodil Lodge Stud, they ran an excellent event, a great place to bring any young horse in training, such a relaxed environment. And OMG their hills, their horses hind ends must be out of this world!!
Following our success, hopefully over the next few weeks we will be getting more competitions under our belts, after doing this I am full of confidence, Dante is more than capable – no more excuses!
Thanks for Reading,