The Unlikely Eventers Go Arena Eventing!

Hannah Craft and her trusty steed Sid are on a mission to make it in the world of eventing. 2018 marks their  second season and they have high hopes (well, Hannah does!)   for moving up the eventing ladder quite swiftly, Hannah shares the honest and often hilarious thrills and spills of their Big Adventure! Click here to read the rest of their adventures!

 You can read more about Hannah and Sid’s progress here!

Well, with the eventing season on the horizon (and the 2018 calendar of events out), Saturday saw us resume our hunt for eventing glory and head to Aston-le-Walls for a spot of arena eventing.

Arena eventing is a two-phase competition. First, you do your dressage test. Then, you go on to the second phase where you have to jump around 8-10 show-jumping fences, followed immediately by around 20 cross country style jumps and finishing over a final show-jumping “joker” fence. Penalties are calculated in the usual way but, if you jump clear over the joker fence, you get penalties removed from your score. As in eventing, the lowest score at the end of the competition wins.

Aston is quite a journey for us, so my alarm went off at 4am (was it even worth going to sleep?!) and I headed to the yard. Sid was not particularly pleased to see me, but he kept his grumbling to a minimum because I turned up with yet another carrot (what a spoilt pony). The depressing thing about eventing in the winter is that it was still pretty dark when we arrived at the venue!

We unloaded and got our numbers and I tacked up. Once Sid was ready, we headed to the warm up arena (and “warm up” is ironic, because it was freezing and I had forgotten to get my jacket out of the car!) Luckily a friend brought it over to me halfway through and after some energetic rising trot I started to feel my fingers and toes again. Maybe it was the long journey or the cold, but Sid was really quite tense. This was reflected in our test where, despite Sid’s best efforts, we just couldn’t quite get it right. Our score was 36.3, which I suppose is not bad, but considering the way Sid has been going in lessons lately I was a bit disappointed.

We changed tack and headed to the jumping warm-up. On the way into the ring, there was a shallow puddle. For some reason, Sid confused it with a black hole and would not walk through it. I decided that it would be good to “get his feet wet” as there was two water jumps in the cross country coming up, but Sid was having none of it, eventually deciding to jump the puddle from a standstill instead. I hoped this was not an omen of things to come! After a whole season eventing, was Sid going to get us eliminated at the water today?! We warmed up and I was relatively pleased with how he felt. Then we were up….into the ring!

As the buzzer went, we picked up a canter and headed down towards the first two fences. Sid popped over them with no problems and we headed for jump three. At this point, however, I was still feeling thrilled that we had jumped the first two so nicely and wasn’t quite concentrating! Sid took a long stride over the oxer and rushed down towards fence 4 where I saw another long stride…but Sid did not! He added in a little stride and went straight through the jump. So much for starting well!!! We then totally misjudged the next turn and did the sharpest turn ever and Sid was getting a bit frustrated with the navigator but managed to clear the related distance. We turned towards the last few fences and I got my act together and actually rode. Sid relaxed and popped the rest calmly and then we headed down the hill to the cross country jumps.

Sid has now decided that cross country is less scary than he first thought and, once he realised what was happening, really picked up some speed!!! I was worried about remembering a course that was (a) twisty, (b) counter-intuitive and (c) really quite long, but it turned out that (apart from a few seconds of blind panic after certain jumps I could find my way around better than I thought! Sid flew everything we put in front of him, even the corners and the skinnies and jumped off a step into the water (which is not something he has done at a competition before). He also managed to leave the joker fence up at the end and, with only a few time penalties, we had gone clear cross country!

We finished on a score of 35.5 (the joker deducted 8 from our score) and I could not have been more pleased with our rosette. Sid and I are definitely looking forward to the 2018 season now!


You can also follow Hannah and Sid on social media at :

Instagram: @hannahcraft2711 or @sidgoeseventing

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