Always a bit nerve racking but Rhaps strutted his stuff for the trot up… he loves showing off – and we could breathe again. I had a late afternoon time for riding and 15 minutes arena familiarisation which ended up clashing with the chef d’equipes meeting when there was a last minute time change. I rode as planned and Angie went to the meeting. Rhaps felt great, full of energy which was our plan and I was looking forward to the team test bright and early on Thursday morning.
I was really pleased with our test… which, despite everyone else thinking the judges were marking harsh, gave me a score very close to my personal best at this level. Ange had filmed it all as well which is a great training tool at home and at a competition and we were able to review the test movement by movement/mark by mark.
By contrast, my time for Friday’s championship test was 5:45! It was a very long day! But the weather was glorious and we were able to sit in the sun and watch some of the best para riders in the world warm up for their tests. When our turn came we had another mistake free test... there was a bit more tension but a good result all the same. I was thrilled that Rhapsody's breeder and former owner Deborah Carr-Davidson made the journey to come and watch our test and I got the chance to meet her and hear some stories of the cheeky chestnut... beach rides and jumping - get that!!
With an overall result from the 2 days of 7th place... in a very competitive field with both Sophie Wells and Michelle George on 2 horses - happily we qualified for the music freestyle on the final day. Time to have some fun with no pressure! Well that was the theory! In any competition there is always pressure - if only the pressure one puts on yourself. I was so pleased with the way that Rhaps was going and enjoying myself so much that I did go a teeny bit wrong. Suddenly I realised that I was repeating myself and needed to make a hasty change of plan to incorporate the missing compulsory movements. That was a test of my ability to think on the job! But the judges didn't seem to mind the lack of symmetry... note to self for my next floorplan! But there will be changes before our next competition.
Ange videoed my tests over the 3 days - it showed weaknesses of course but also gave me the opportunity of seeing the positives which are sometimes buried in the heat of the moment.
The lasting memory of our visit to Bishop Burton was that - it wasn't as long a drive as I expected... the venue was fantastic with great facilities in a compact site... everyone was so helpful... and we had some laughs!!
Unfortunately as a post script to the above I have since learned that our final qualifying competition this year, due to be held in England in October, has been cancelled. So will have to wait and see if there are any scheduled for January 2016....