Success at Brightling for RoR Blogger Katherine Bentz and Classical Statement
Blogger Katherine Bentz and Classical Statement’s route to Championship qualification.
Last Week: Katherine and George had a minor ‘hiccup’ which resulted in Katherine in Hospital. .
This week’s double blog: Includes coming back from injury and heading to the RoR Championships at Brightling International Horse Trials.
Classical Statement is sound and my hip is functional, fingers crossed this continues. I wanted to bring him back slowly so we did a week of walking out with George’s new favourite horse Champ, a 13hh Native who is about 20 and just his type, bay and a gelding. We were an odd pair going up the road, a 17hh ginger thoroughbred tucked in tightly behind a small native who is marching us past anything that is remotely scary.
Emergency call to Russell was made to see if he could squeeze us in for some cross country at Coombelands, mainly because we had not seen a cross country fence in 2 months. As soon as George’s feet touched the grass he clearly was excited to be out with some good prancing displays on show. So, we warm up and line the first jump in our sights, a lovely 80cm one, George takes one look at it and goes “Oh mummy, did you honestly think I would just jump it after such a long break and you riding like that? … let me run out”.
So first fence, run out to the left. Second attempt fly over it, second jump fly over it. Third jump run out to the left. I think by this point Russell was a bit distressed, George was clearly having fun wiggling away from the jumps and I was clearly not riding well at all. Let’s put it down to being rusty.
So after a little bit of tough love and with a new determination to keep the horse straight rather than letting him dance around the jumps we were off. We worked on lots of different combinations and did a lot of steps. George has this really good way of leaping off steps rather than stepping, but after a few attempts we were managing it and we were looking much more normal.
After our rather eye opening cross country, the next day I felt as stiff as a board. How could I lose this much muscle in 2 months of not going cross country? I still have a few more things I need to tick off before the champs: I really should get George over some showjumping fences, perhaps go through my dressage test, clean my trailer, as my father pointed out it is slowly turning green, complete my aim of being able to sew plaits in by the 1st July so I can look as good as the horses do on the ERM series.
I started with the show jumping and begged my mother to come and do jumps for me on the Monday evening, as with a flat work lesson this week and a netball match on Wednesday and Thursday we were really running out of days. I have to say I was actually really happy with George, we stayed straight, we generally saw our stride and kept most of the jumps upright.
As of yet I have not run through my dressage test, this will be Friday’s job, so if you are already doing that you are well ahead of me. I have watched it a few times on YouTube so let’s hope that will at least help. The trailer is currently not clean, but it rained yesterday surely that will help.
So if you see a Bateson trailer with a ginger horse next to it, don’t look at the roof! The sewing we will do Friday night after work, as the plaiting and bathing means cooking just isn’t happening.
Katherine’s next and final Blog is finally getting to the RoR Eventing Championships held at Brightling International Horse Trials.
The day has finally arrived.
We did manage to run through our dressage the day before and the plaits were looking fairly respectable, though my hands were pricked a few times and were sore.
In typical ‘us’ style we ended up leaving the house 30mins late, meaning we had no time to walk the Cross Country and Show Jumping before our dressage.
George was clearly very excited, we did some half pass and piaffe all the way down to the dressage warm up, I suppose George was thinking his come back to eventing was on a par with Valegro’s performances.
We warmed up fairly well and he was generally concentrating. In the ring we went, I always try and start going round the arena as soon as possible to try and settle George, but in pure ginger fashion up the centre line we went turn right and ‘whooooppps’ we ended up nearly at X. I can’t tell you what George was looking at, perhaps the string or a mysterious monster but generally as soon as we got to that corner we were not a happy bunny. It was a shame as some parts of the test were very good but the lack of outings clearly made George very excited.
After this, suddenly I was thrust in front of the camera for an interview with Horse and Country. How exciting, we finally get our big break, but George seems to think it is he who is being interviewed and kept putting himself in front of me and therefore in full view of the camera.
After my 30 seconds of fame I managed to throw George at my new grooms, Vicky and Phoebe, and waddle (I have new boots!) around the Cross Country and Show Jumping. A huge thank you to the stewards who were just so great and amenable allowing me to run (waddle) and go and walk the course.
After thoroughly breaking in my new boots (and breaking my feet) the course was walked and we went back and grabbed George and off we went to the show jumping. Our round was ok, he was clearly full of energy and went into hurdling mode and tapped down two jumps, but he felt confident and the round actually felt better than at Chilham, where we were clear but it wasn’t a good rhythm.
A quick strip into Cross Country clothes and we were ready. We had a few minutes to wait which was a good and a bad thing, it gave me time to get into Cross Country mode but bad as I could hear the problems on course. I was told by 3 different people to make sure I press go on my stop watch at 10 seconds and with this in mind I headed off to the box, and luckily I pressed the correct button on my watch.
Off we went and George was flying, it was such a great feeling to be flying around such a beautiful course. After about 5 jumps I looked at my watched and suddenly realised I had started to hack around and I really need to up the pace. So after the water we were faced with the large Brightling hill next the Folly which opens out to views of the sea. George bless his cotton socks, obliged and attacked the hill and we flew round the course with 1 second over. I was so happy with the round as it was clean and tidy and we really felt like we were back on form.
After the Cross Country I discovered George and I had come 7th in the RoR champs, I was so happy and got a beautiful rosette at my first ever prize giving.
Thank you so much for the Retraining of Racehorses for the amazing championship and organising the competition. It really was a special event and I would encourage all former racehorses to give it a go. I am going to be 100% aiming for the BE100 next year and hope we will improve our place.
RoR would like to thank Katherine for her weekly blog and wish her and Classical Statement the best of luck with in the future.