Race Report: Tilford
After Saturday’s fabulous dressage day I did have high hopes for Chip’s behaviour at Tilford as we scored our highest percentage yet and he was so calm and relaxed in the warm up which is a big improvement from the stress head that he was in October in the warm ups.
I collected the lorry from Equi-hire on Saturday night and packed up ready for our early start on Sunday morning. I wanted to make sure we arrived in plenty of time so that Chip could be walked around and warmed up before going into vetting at 8.15. Kate walked Chip around whilst I checked in and Pheobe and Cam got the kit out all organised ready to go.
Kate and I went to pre-ride vetting and Chip was so immensely calm, even with the horses in the neighbouring paddock tearing up and down the fence line. He did a beautiful trot up and was generally very calm and relaxed. A* for Chippy who is usually a touch on lairy side at the start!
We got tacked up also very calmly and got on and started a little warm up. We had the most relaxed and easy start EVER with Chip without pulling or leaping around! We quickly caught up with Charlie Fleming and set off at a nice pace together. Before long, Ollie Holman caught us up and then the three of us rode the 33km loop together. The route rode well, minus a few muddy and stony sections but Chip just ate up the ground and was much more in tune with me and listening than normal, even in a group. Of course he did have the odd buck and kick out – that’s Chip – but overall the BEST behaviour ever on a first loop.
He came into vetting and his heart rate dropped like a stone so we went straight in without problems. Heart rate 54, As for everything else – very good boy. And, now for the amazing bit – Chip actually ate some food in the vetgate! This has been such a major challenge in all his previous events as he is usually such a stress head we can’t get him to stand still at all let along eat anything! He had the biggest buffet ever and Pheobe and Kate worked tirelessly to tempt him with the food. He also had a drink too, so this alone was amazing.
After a quick outfit change on my part – because the little downpour earlier on had got me rather damp, we were soon tacked up and ready to go onto loop 2. With clean and dry Noble Outfitters UK riding tights, riding socks and some dry trainers I cannot tell you how much more comfortable I was! Nothing worse than wet sandy mud up your legs - gross!
Loop two was mentally more challenging for both of us as we were alone. Chip was a little angel and kept up his rhythm and cantered off my voice command without question every time I asked but he is noticeable more spooky which means more concentration on my part - which in turn makes it more tiring. We completed the entire last loop completely alone, not seeing a single horse the whole time!
Into the finish and Chip was very perky and looking rather pleased with himself. We gave him a quick wash off and then into vetting. It was sooo warm by this point he didn’t have a rug on - unheard of ahah. He jogged off in his usual manner to the vetting area and all the vets complimented us on how good he looked and they said they wished more horses looked as good as he did at the end! That was probably my proudest moment of the day! Final HR49 all As and looked most impressed with himself - I was over the moon.
Winning Best Condition was the icing on the cake and then 1st place in the PF too!!
WHAT A DAY!!!
A massive thank you to my very support team around me that make this happen: farrier Aaron Myall, physio Kate Scothorne - ACPAT Chartered Physiotherapist, instructor Ian Wills who has helped me well beyond just our dressage, Rowen Barbary Team, Equiform Nutrition Ltd, Noble Outfitters UKand Cold One. Huge thanks to Shelley Bates and Margaret Pattinson for organising and all the helpers that gave up their time to make the event happen.
Next on the agenda – that coveted 1* at Kings Forest.
Photos by LRG Photography.