It felt like we just had to get through the long winter, doing a few local competitions but mainly pushing ahead with our training with Andrew J Murphy. At the very back of our minds were the FEI World Championships in Herning Denmark in August - the replacement for WEG this year incorporating show jumping, dressage, para dressage and vaulting (the eventing and driving world champs are being held in Italy in September). We had one shot at qualifying at Keysoe International in March but it was by no means a done deal.
There was nothing to lose and so, accompanied by Suzanne Lingham as groom and joined by Andrew there, we went for broke. After such a long break from international competition it was great to be back - it felt like a family reunion but without the family!!
The trot up was a breeze for Skye and Suzanne but later, working in the warm up arenas followed by field of play familiarisation was rather eventful to say the least. Thankfully Skye got IT- whatever IT was - all out of his system and the next morning bright and early he came out with his sensible hat on for the warm up for our first test. I felt this was our best chance at getting the qualifying score but when a bit of miscommunication led to a costly mistake I really wasn't too disappointed because he had really tried and it was "just one of those things"!!
Day 2 - and our test was late in the afternoon this time. A leg stretch and a bit of light work in the morning. It would have been easy for me to be a bit complacent at this point as he was going so well but a sudden wake up call from the tannoy system sending Skye into a spin - literally - kept me focused. A timely reminder for sure!! Later in our warm up we asked him for more... and he gave it to me. Such an improvement on so many levels - not least because he was really focused and listening - to me and not the dogs fighting in the gallery during our test! After the rocky road we have been down I felt quite emotional coming out of the arena.
At this point Andrew had to dash to get to his next clinic way up north so he did not get to hear the results... but we got the score we needed - and as a bonus qualified for the freestyle the next day to boot!!
Oddly enough, having not been nervous at all the past 2 days, I woke the next morning feeling really nervous. I think not really knowing what I was going to do had something to do with it!! We had mapped out a rough freestyle for Skye when I first got him and planned to go to Hartpury in July 2019 before my fall. Since then the freestyle had been pushed to the back of my mind - there was always more important aspects to work on - and never enough time! I was using dear Brodie's music and at least I know it so well I knew I could 'wing it' if necessary.
This was the first freestyle I have done with Skye and it was all about enjoying the moment. I didn't entirely keep to the floor plan and was always a bit behind the music. That meant it was all done in medium... I think he was a bit taken back when I asked for canter half pass - but in medium canter if you please - and I was not at all surprised when one of the judges comments for the medium canter was "not much difference shown"... I thought - no that was because it was ALL in medium canter - haha!! I don't think Skye knew what hit him but he was game and really went for it!
We just got onto the centre line for the end of the music to halt and by that time I was laughing - hence the pic above!! It has been quite a while since I have had the pleasure of doing the freestyle at the end of an international and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. It has always been such a great way to end the competition!!
So... watch this space as will be keeping you updated with news of our journey to the heart of Denmark in August!!
Next up - a presentation by Andrew Murphy on 28th May... see the home page for more details.