Friday, November 5, 2010

Dressage and a XC Preview by Joe Meyer

Competition day is upon us at Pau with Don doing his CIC** dressage test at 11:30. I took him for his first ride at 9 am. This pre warm-up ride took longet than I expected as he never really got to the place I wanted and Don was starting to feel the atmposphere of the other horses and big arenas. His walk pirouettes, which lately have been a bit hit or miss, were exactly that this morning - well actually verging a bit more on the miss than hit!. The experienced bird on my shoulder chirped at me to say - Joe it is time to just ride this horse long and low and try to make him happy and put him away before you have done too much. So I took him back to the stables and presented him to Nobie nice and hot and sweaty with not much time left to be braided before the test.

Went back to the lorry to have a coffee and polish my boots and a quick look over the test. Back down to the stables half an hour before my ride time to get on and I was relieved to find that Nobie had tacked up the right horse for the competition at hand. So with things looking up we headed to the warm up. A downsize in spurs and leaving the whip at the barn to make sure I didn't wind Don up seemed the right plan of action. A couple of pointers from Andrew Nicholson on the way to the ring and a final polish from Nobie before heading in to do my test. Don went in and excelled himself with a really smooth and regular test and there were smiles all around for his strong performance. Don scored a 49.4 and was 4th after 42 at the lunch break and finished the day in 8th place in a field of over 60. His owner Ann Black said he was actually in the lead because the French riders don't count!

Feeling a little bit of a high after my good performance on Don I went for a ride on Cam who is still improving all the time but struggling a bit still with his lateral work. He had a physio session this morning which seemed to help him a bit.

Time for course wallking. My longtime Spanish friend Sebas set out with Nobie as our 'wheel girl'. This course is technical, not massively tall (please see photo of fence where humans cannot be seen on the backside at all in album) with a few real live wide spreads - and maybe a couple of big drops too. There is a difficult corner early at fence 4, a narrow soon after followed by the first water which consists of a huge table to a nice big drop into water with a sharp turn to the right up a bank with one stride to angled brush. For Cam's first four star this is going to be a real test it is technical and narrow at places. Cam is very, very brave and I just need to make sure I aim him between the flags and not get too carried away with his massive, bottomless gallop. There are some quite forward distances on the course which we all know should suit him, but this is a comment I will reserve for after I finish. Looks like Nobie wheeled it a bit tight which suits me and Sebas just fine and meant we didn't have to send her out again to wheel it to more suit our liking.

After a refreshing cup of tea I ran around Don's 2 star course that is half the distance of the four star and only 18 fences with some combinations. It has one very narrow skinny near the end. This is nothing Don can't handle, but to be in the money here it will be a sprint. Arena reconnaisance at 5 pm for Cam. Cam seemed to go alseep walking around the arena so lets hope tomorrow he is just as relaxed.

Great day here at Pau! Will let you know how Cam's test goes tomorrow.


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