We had a good journey there and Rhaps was soon rolling in his new bed right on cue! I did not plan to do anything other than give him a leg stretch later that day which we organised to be in the competition arena. He felt bursting out of his skin but I resisted the temptation to do anything more than walk and stretch. Thursday was the trot up and we were last to go before the host Belgium team... gave us time to do a little schooling, a bath for Rhaps and after he cantered through the trot up - attended the popular opening ceremony.
The draw was kind to us and we did not have a horrendously early time on Friday morning. I had been concerned about Rhapsody's energy levels on the run up to this competition and during the initial warm up indoors he did nothing to ease my worries. I kept the warm up to a minimum until we went outdoors to the 10 minute holding arena. Then, Rhaps came alive and bronked his way round for the next 10 minutes! It was mildly amusing especially as I could see a number of spectators outside the marquee watching us rather than the competitor in the arena! Our time came and all I could think was - just ride the bloody test... it will be fine! And it was fine - apart from a very little explosion in the canter. One judge described it as "playful" - the others said 'tense'..... well maybe it was but I was very pleased with the test, Rhapsody's energy levels and enthusiasm and felt there were more positives than negatives.
While standing at the live score feeds and after the test had finished, we stood next to one of the judges who proceeded to comment to a colleague "I came down hard on Lee Frawley because her horse was a bit up... but was lenient with the Saudi rider"
Good for the Saudi rider but black marks for this judge.... who admittedly only voiced what we all already know about dressage judging - but really??
Saturday we had a very late time.... 5:12 and so passed the day by watching a ton of dressage and also catching up with old friends. I changed tactics with the warm up to deal with the "tense" issues and after a really good, mistake free test was pleased to improve my placing and my percentage in the more difficult test... and no mention of the dreaded word "tense" from any of the judges throughout!
I felt it was a bit of a breakthrough... having Rhapsody really revved up in the energy stakes and fine tuning my warm up I now can't wait to bring this forward to our next international at Hartpury in July. If Rhaps had these energy levels all the time I would have been more prepared to deal with the warm up etc but now I can at least build on this knowledge for the future.
in the meantime I have a fortnight's holiday in the USVI visiting family and weather permitting Rhaps has a fortnight's holiday in the field.