Our first trip abroad of the year – Renswoude Horse Trials in The Netherland. We headed out to Holland with Wellshead Fare Opposition (Derby) in the CIC***, Total Belief (April) in the CCI** and Total Darkness (Ted) in the CCI*. For both of Total Equestrian Constructions homebred’s, it was their first 3 day competition and their first time going abroad.
We had a good trip out and I had Maddie Longstaff and Izzy Kirk along as vital Team Keen members. We arrived on Wednesday and had a busy time setting up camp, working horses and both April and Ted had their trot ups at 7pm. It was fair to say we were all ready for a good nights kip at the end of the day!
Thursday was dressage day for April and Ted. April was up first and did a lovely test, she really tried her heart out. I was slightly disappointed with our mark of 34.7, but we ended this phase still in touch in 16th place, with very tight scoring at the top of the leader board. Watch her test here: April Dressage
There was a lot for Ted to take in both in the warm up and the actual arena, so overall I was really pleased with how he coped and the performance he gave. But the scoring was interesting, he totally split the judges. The Judge at C seriously didn’t like it putting us very near the bottom of the class – 69th (field of 77), but the Judge at B had a completely different take putting us in 13th. Overall there was nearly 20 marks difference between them which meant we ended up in a mid div 38th position. See his test in full and see where you would have put him! Ted Dressage
Friday was Derby’s day. My faithful partner did a good test, although he felt a bit tense in places, so I had to work for it! But we were well rewarded with him to score 29.8 and sit in a competitive 5th place Derby Dressage. He show-jumped on the same day and was incredible. He pinged around like the true professional he is, to jump a fantastic clear.We did pick up a time fault (even though I really felt like we moved on throughout the round) but still moved up a position to sit in 4th place overnight.
Saturday dawned and ahead was a full on day for Team Keen with all three horses running cross country. The young’un of the gang was up first, Ted contesting his first CCI* cross country. It was a full up international track for this level with lots of questions and plenty to take in. He went slightly green on me when we had to go under the bridge into the first water and I could feel that he slightly frightened himself. Therefore it was not ideal that the next but one was another water jump combination. At this fence you had to jump into water and then jump a skinny on your way out. Ted jumped way too big and green going in and so we didn’t really stand any chance to line up the skinny and sadly went straight past it. I represented him and he popped it no problem along with the next fence. But I then made the decision to retire him and save him for another day, as there is lots more to come from him for this year and beyond.
Derby was up next and I was so excited to be back out on him at top level. He did not disappoint and made light work of the intense CIC*** track, feeling truly incredible and back to his very best. Therefore I was fairly gutted when we finished to learn we had picked up 20 penalties out on course. I found out that this had be awarded at fence 17 where he had slightly pecked on landing at the A element and I had to do an S type bend to get back to 17B. I was pretty adamant I had not crossed my tracks, but sadly the fence judges could not be persuaded otherwise, so we picked up penalties on this technicality, to drop us from 4th to 14th. Disappointing results wise, but in reality it took nothing away from the round we had and Derby knew no difference, he was just awesome.
Derby water combination
Last but by no means least was April. And what a round to finish on. She was so brave and honest, being totally with me all the way round to cruise home 11 seconds under the optimum time. It is such a great feeling to take horses through the levels, especially when you have bred them and taught them the whole way up. The end results after this phase saw April and I rise 13 places to 3rd position, with just the show-jumping left to do. It was a busy day for the whole team, with lots going on and I could not have done it without all their amazing support and help.
April water jump
Our final day came round and all attention was on April. She flew through the trot up and we then prepared for our show-jumping round. She felt really good in the warm up, as with this being her first 3 day, you never quite know how they will come out on the final day. However, she showed no signs of tiredness from her epic cross country efforts the previous day and jumped the most mega clear round April show-jumping . What a lovely mare and to top it off we rose another place to finish in 2nd place. We are all really thrilled with her and I am so excited for her future.
Overall, a great first trip abroad for our first major event of the season. As is the way with eventing, things spring up that you cannot prepare for and there are inevitable highs and lows. But I am feeling so excited for the rest of the season. As ever huge huge thanks to my fantastic team, my sponsors and to the organisers of Renswoude Horse Trials for putting on a great competition.