✓ Loaded    ✓ Traveled calmly   ✓ Dressage   ✓ Showjumping    ✓ Cross-country  ✓ Loaded   ✓ Traveled calmly

It was a little ‘blind leading the blind’…but we’ve survived our first ODE!! And here’s the proof:

Beforehand I was ok with the dressage but not so sure about the jumping, particularly the cross-country. We’ve not been out jumping for ages, we’ve xc schooled less than a dozen times and  I’ve only done one ‘mini-ode’ before (and that was at least 3 years ago).

I’d forgotten how much prep is required for competitions and hadn’t considered that I was effectively doing three! Last weekend I downloaded and learnt the dressage test, Tuesday after work I practiced the test, Wednesday after work I had a lesson on the test, Thursday after work I cleaned my dressage tack and started loading the van, Friday I walked the course (more about that later), had a jumping lesson, cleaned more tack and then Saturday….well, competition day is crazy!

So the course walk – how hard can it be?!  I’m sure that there were plenty of potential observations that I missed but I did as friends had advised: look for the straight lines to the fence, note where the ground is uneven and where you might need to come back to a trot, count the fence numbers (yes a friend has missed one out before!) and look of for those fences that encourage a run out. In this case they were: ~17 on the uneven ground and #1 for the run out.

The dressage….well that went pretty well.  She was cool and calm coming off the box and just a bit ‘looky’ in the warm-up.  Even though we’ve ridden in fields with dressage boards before and we had them at all our competitions, Abbey did take a look as we trotted around the outside of the arena.

We didn’t quite make it to the track on the 1/2 20m on the right rein (I really need to pick up my outside rein!), our halt was a bit wobbly and the judge picked up that she’s a bit stiff on the left rein but overall a good effort.  We scored 32.

Showjumping….what a star!  No hesitations at all 😀  A bit faster than we’d ride at home but was really pleased with our efforts.

Finally the cross country….we had a stop at the first which was frustrating as I felt I really rode that fence, jumped it second time around.  Had a minor incident when the fence judge blew her whistle while I was approaching fence #2 -should have thought about that, Abbey’d clearly never heard one of those before!!

Fences #3, #4 and #5 went well but 6……well I thought Abbey was going for it. I was sat back, leg on, hands up and 3,2,1…BRAKE!!! As I pushed myself back up into the saddle I could see Abbey had taken off but changed her mind as her knees were on the fence. Bless her, she was shaking and snorting so we took a moment to calm down and gather ourselves.

We turned a circle and popped it neatly and then we were off again. #7, #8 and #9 were perfect – Abbey was starting the get the hang off this, so much so that I was starting to loose the ability to check her and bring her back to a bouncy canter.  I made her trot through the woods, using much seat and my rising to bring some calm to the situation.

#10 great, #11 a little hesitation, #12….nope!! Jumped it second time around though.  Then the water….we approached it with confidence, then had a little hesitation, then spooking while in the water but we got though it and cantered up the hill towards the last two fences which she happily popped.

We finished with 60 penalties and just over 60 time faults but it wasn’t about being competitive, it was about getting round, building our confidence and having a good time. All of which we achieved and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Maybe we’ll do some arena eventing over the winter and some more xc schooling in the spring so that we can go with the aim of coming home with a rosette.