Tim and Jonelle really earnt their dollars today with 8 youngsters between them in the BE 100 class, all of varying degrees of experience but mostly first timers which always adds to the degree of difficulty!
My first view of Tim of the day was persuading a recalcitrant Viscount Viktor ( Viktor) that heading off to the dressage arenas ( and this leaving all his friends behind at the truck) was a good idea. Viktor thought not so but then discovered when he got there that there was a whole new group of friends waiting for him in the warm up and so his eventing experience began to develop. He did a nice baby test for a 34 although he is a big lad and didn’t quite see why he had to perform his moves in such a limited space. Efeba (Kanga) is another baby, this time of Spanish descent and whilst she wouldn’t be the equine equivalent of a super model being more of the solid type she is pretty smart and managed her moves for a 30. Midnight Galaxy (Herbie) had a couple of runs with Tim last year so he was feeling pretty superior with his 30 test and Chio 20 is not only a stunning looking horse but is a really fancy mover as well so he picked up the dressage prize for a 28 in his section.
Meanwhile Jonelle had her hands full with Elixir ( Cedric) who is so similar to Faerie Dianimo at the same age its uncanny. He is an athlete through and through and has the same air of arrogance and confidence that she had at 6. He is also just as naughty and has the most expressionist face I have ever seen in a horse with ears either pinned flat back or pointing forwards nearly touching depending on what he is looking at. Another first timer with the unfortunate name of FiftyShades of Jarsay ( Frenchie) is a similarly athletic type but he is a simpler character and doesn’t count dropping Jonelle as a box ticking exercise which made the dressage a little easier before Diamonte II ( Monte) was a little more experienced and made her debut with Jonelle a good one with a 29. C’est Le Belle is also a bit more experienced and she strutted her stuff for a 27.
Next up on the agenda was 8 horses to showjump in a short period of time and with the new rules requiring 2 showjumping warm ups we were lucky enough to be allocated one to ourselves which was pretty handy and very helpful of the stewards. Viktor found the whole experience pretty exciting and thus had to jump about 30 fences before he was ready to settle down and his 4 faults was a bit unfortunate as he jumped a super round. Kanga tripped over the first fence before regaining her composure for a very grown up attempt at her first event course and Herbie, who finds concentrating the hardest bit of all, was also on good form for a great round with just the one mistake. Chio found the trip down to the warm up all a bit much when a horse going cross country galloped up behind him and in his confusion managed to take out his designated staff member which meant Kelsey ended up in the ambulance and Chio headed back to the truck. At the same time someone face planted in the double which stretched the ambulance crew and the entire event ground to a halt for 5 minutes which was mostly down to Chio. He was clearly a bit embarrassed about the havoc he had caused so made up for it by being on his best behaviour for the rest of the day with a very grown up double clear and a 2nd place and I don’t remember a horse since Wesko placing on their debut!
Jonelle and Cedric jumped a very smart clear round as did Monte. Belle is quite opinionated and sometimes decides to take her own approach which is why she had a rare 4 faults whilst Frenchie yet again tried his hardest but picked up 3 time as a result of some trotting!
Watching the babies go cross country is the bestest fun. Jonelle was mostly a victim of fence 6, the ‘hedge of doom’ whilst Tim had more problems with the combination at 5a and b. First up for Jonelle was Cedric who was happy to jump the combination but when he realised Jonelle was heading for not only a hedge… which is clearly and obviously a barrier, not a fence….but also out of the valley and away from all his new friends he applied the reverse gear. He has a 20 on his card but it was not a refusal as when he put the brakes on he was some 20 metres away from the hedge! Cedric had a tantrum, Jonelle was having none of it and after a humiliating smacked bottom he jumped the hedge and then had a splendid time galloping up and across the hill and found it all great fun. Next out was Belle who propped and spooked at Fence 3 and also received a reminder but having been told about the ‘hedge of doom’ by Cedric also put the brakes on for the first time ever. Cedric had clearly failed to tell Belle about the repercussions of applying the brakes and she also received a wallop before she decided she did love going cross country and bounded around the rest of the course. Monte was very grown up and scampered around adding just 0.8 to her dressage score and Frenchie ticked all the boxes with his clear round.
Tim worked quite hard to get Viktor into his stride and then reaped the benefits as the further he went the better Viktor got. Herbie wasn’t a big fan of the combination at 5 and took an unusual route into it but they survived and after that he listened to Tim’s suggestions and enjoyed his round. Kanga had her own views on the combination but after walking through the hedge decided scope was the way forward and powered her way around the rest of the track. Chio was pure class and it has to be said that the hilly track isn’t the easiest start in eventing life for a baby but boy do they learn allot!
Debs and Jess were working their socks off at the truck whilst Kelsey was being examined in hospital before being pronounced fit to leave in the late afternoon. The babies were all sleeping in the sunshine when the two advanced horses came out and Tim and Jonelle breathed a sigh of relief for the reassuring sight of some experienced eventers. Tim and Spartaco ( Sparty) did their best work for a 24 which left them in 2nd place and Jonelle debuted her new fancy ride McClaren in public. Mac went to WEG with Sir Mark Todd which was the last time he had competed so he was pretty happy to be back again and did some fancy footwork which scored a slightly unjust 29.
Mac is one of the best jumpers in the business and he and Jonelle soared around the decent OI track in the main arena with Mac giving his customary display of classic technique with huge scope. He is only a little horse but he defies gravity over a fence and when Toddy turned up to watch him he was quickly summoned by Jonelle for some last minute cross country advice. Sparty also jumped a great round for a clear and they headed off to the cross country start together for the last of their 10 rides over the 2 days.
Jonelle and Mac had a blast as they got to know each other a bit more and jumped a round that was pure class. Tim and Sparty went a bit quicker for just 10 time and 3rd spot overall and they both rode back to the truck with smiles on their faces and happy with their horses.
So much of the credit goes to the working crew this weekend, as ever led by the seemingly bottomless Jess Wilson who has cracked a few 3.30am starts this week to get everything organised. Some 26 horses ran this weekend and that doesn’t happen without an incredible back up team. The sun shone, Barbury was fantastic and a credit to the Muskateer team and we all enjoyed going eventing again.