Jonelle just had the one ride on Saturday but she made the most of it with Coup de Coeur Dudevin (Joker) showing flying form with a 25.9 on the flat and adding nothing to it to finish 2nd in his OI section. He is a big, powerful horse and Jonelle says when she goes into canter she feels like a little kid hanging on for dear life! But they look great together and the partnership is cementing nicely.
Tim had a slightly busier day with his four intermediates. Gurtera Jimmy Clover was tackling his first intermediate with Tim and he did so in some style. A 31 dressage, a rail and just 3.6 time around a meaty enough track was a really good effort and they finished 8th. Jimmy is a good jumper with super technique and as long as he sticks with ‘weight watchers’ diet he should be one for the future for Tim who likes him very much.
Jarillo (Milo) was a late switch from the novice when we finally persuaded BE that he actually was qualified to run intermediate and he covered himself in glory by adding nothing to a 24 dressage to win the class! I think that proves he was more than ready for the challenge and he is the front runner to be quite the fast track learner of the season.
Viscount Viktor had a play round the novice as Somerford which he enjoyed and he came back to intermediate with a super test for 24. He picked up 4 faults in the spooky main arena before setting out cross-country and was having a great run up until the water three quarters of the way round. He didn’t have the smoothest entry into the water as he basically cantered in and tripped over in the water and managed to decant Tim in the drink. As Tim found himself literally lying between Viktor front legs it briefly crossed his mind that this was not the safest place to be but to his ( and our!) surprise Viktor carefully picked his way around Tim so that he didn’t tread on him. Very nice show of manners indeed Viktor. No one likes being trampled, especially in the water!
Happy Boy has the most experience out of the quartet and Tim and he were pretty confident after their last outing finishing 2nd at Le Pin. A 27 dressage and a smooth clear over the coloured poles meant they set off cross country looking good. Happy is a creature of habit to say the least and he can find a ‘coffin of doom’ at most places. In a pattern which is repeating itself he goes to France, goes incredibly well ( He has had wins and top places at Le Lion d’Angers & Le Pin au Haras) and then, just before his next big outing goes and gawps at the ditch in the middle of the coffin. I think it’s Happy’s sense of humour but what it actually does is remind Tim to go and school some coffins before the next biggie. And that is what will happen!
Bank Holiday Monday saw another 9 Team Price horses rock up to the venue. Wellington has a “Country Fair” as well which has tractors pulling trailers full of kids around the cross country area, bouncy castles, pony club eventing, a (slightly dodgy) Craft Fair, sheep in pens, men on stilts and all manner of weird and wonderful things to scare the living daylights out of those horses jumping in the main arena. I guess its the Covid effect which has merged the boredom of families at the end of the summer holidays with no where to go with the inability to travel abroad for less than 2k in Covid tests into a perfect storm of massive attendance at anything resembling entertainment! 4 days of cross country had gathered around 30 people onto the bank to watch but hundreds thronged below us queuing for the tractors, the food queues ran to well over an hour and children ran ( and faceplanted) everywhere on sugar highs. The queues to come in lasted all day with cars stacking up in overflow car parks and seemingly endless appetite for something different.
The dressage runs in the lorry park so apart from the exhaust fumes of the cars entering the venue all was peaceful. Jonelle and Faerie Dianimo (Maggie May) were having their first run back from their unfortunate crash at Luhmuhlen and Maggie was more than ready to show her disdain for doing dressage in a field. Her dressage ‘display’ was as funny as it has ever been and she actually looked like an Andalusian stallion off its head on drugs as she tried to passage (badly) her way through the trot work and as well as a serious jack up in the canter work exuded all sorts of tension and disobedience. As always I thought it quite funny, as always Jonelle didn’t and when we heard the mark was 37 it made us all laugh….generous to a point! McClaren also had a minor wobble half way through his but the rest was smart so a 34 felt more than a little unfair! Maggie May was first up for Jonelle in the showjumping and it became quite quickly apparent that the downhill treble half way round was the ‘bogey’ fence with horses jumping in quite well before spooking at something unseen. The buzzy atmosphere and lots of crowd movement made it a difficult arena to jump in and clear rounds were few and far between. Even Maggie May, with all her experience spooked in the table and had the second two parts down, Mac managed to have the last part down and by the time Jonelle came in on Kilbunny Andy she declared she had yet to get around clear and Andy also caught a pole to add to his 36 dressage.
Jonelle had three great rides cross country though on her experienced trio. Maggie May showed Luhmuhlen didn’t bother her, Mac bowled around enjoying himself and Andy grew wings and just picked up 0.4 of a time penalty in a very assured and confident spin.
Tim was having a few issues with his first ride as Curly Girl stepped up to intermediate with him for the first after a couple of novice runs. They were another pair to get a spook in the treble and a crash through the second element when Curly put down but then they did the same at a vertical and despite a few seconds of ‘will he wont he’ eventually gravity got the best of it and Tim landed on his feet. Tim looked a little surprised, Curly even more so and that was the end of that day. Next up for Tim was Spartaco (Sparty) who had done a test of complete opposites to Maggie May in the same arena, exuding calmness and relaxation for a 29. It was hardly a mere 8 marks better but hey ho! Sparty made it through the troublesome treble but managed to pick up what was swiftly becoming the ‘average’ 8 faults elsewhere. Added to the busy atmosphere is the sloping terrain and where the course builder can position something downhill he made every effort to! Tim had a good run on Sparty cross country where they looked much more a partnership than at Somerford and as Tim said, “we are friends again now we are reacquainted” which was good to hear.
Tim then had three very experienced advanced horses all with different autumn agendas. Ringwood Sky Boy posted a very smart 29.1, showjumped clear ( he rattled a few but they all stayed in their cups!) and was withdrawn as he heads to Bicton 5 star this week. Falco scored a 24 on the flat to win the dressage ( Nick Burton, president of the ground jury in Tokyo, told us that he had given him 78% and thought it a beautiful test which is a serious compliment) and of course showjumped clear without a rattle in sight. He was withdrawn as he is now all prepped and ready to go to Aachen for the CCIO4*S. Xavier Faer (Hugo) worked his socks off for a 31 in his test, the only mistake being a late second change before summoning up all of his experience to jump a lovely clear and then he was withdrawn as his pre Fairhill 5 star run was always planned at Cornbury next week.
Jonelle had no such luxury as she put on her big boy pants and rode George through his first advanced day. ‘Happy George’ as he is known ( because he really is SO grumpy its funny) has begun to show more and more of the ‘Brockenhurst Babe” foibles and having spent the first two years of his career spending literally 8 minutes warming up for the dressage he now requires a whole heap of work! Jess brought him back from his planned lunge as she said he was “dangerously close to falling over he was such an idiot” so Jonelle donned her tail coat and went and took responsibility for said idiot herself. As we were watching Tim we could see George spinning like a top around Jonelle at the back of the truck park but she arrived on board with him looking a bit more relaxed some 15 minutes later. In fact Jonelle his inner fury very well until the first flying change where he threw in a huge buck which luckily she was ready for but he did a credible job of his first advanced with a 36. George thought it all a bit busy and resented the constant change of bend and direction but he is talented on the flat so plenty of room for improvement!
Jonelle took a deep breath before the showjumping and reminded us that George had had 5 down at his first intermediate but he did an excellent job picking up just 8 faults which was pretty good for a first timer around that track.
I can only say that watching Jonelle ride a young, inexperienced, spooky and small horse around not only his first advanced but a tricky one at that is pretty amazing. Jonelle came around the corner to fence three and must have seen her distance 10 out and just lengthened into it giving George such confidence. As she said, she did quite a bit of adding but when she had no chance of adding and she prayed George would pick up on her stride he kept answering! He is a brave little chap and like most of the Brockenhurst Boys take a while to figure things out but it was a demonstration of just how much talent and bravery Jonelle has. She said she was relieved that it was over but she very admirably simply made it happen.
Tim is done but Jonelle returns to day for yet another tough day… three first time novices!