And the annual challenge of WWEC never seems to get any easier except that this year the added challenge was that, quite unbelievably, the novices and 100 horses have not had a start since freezing Larkhill back in April.  So many cancelled and abandoned events and it still felt like April weather today as a cold north wind blew and the sun tended to remain hidden behind the numerous clouds for most of the day.  There is something about Equestrian Centres that seem to all tick the same box…..coldest spot in the vicinity? Tick.

Jonelle’s day was relatively simple with three novice rides and Faerie Good Golly  (Golly) kicked off the day with an 8am dressage and proved she had her mother’s work ethic with a 28.8.  Illico de l’Esques (Nico) did a great test for a 29 and J’Orange (Daisy) is a proper princess and thought it a very early start for a 32.

The showjumping is on the big outdoor all weather at WWEC with a pretty tight all weather warm up on the side.  It is always fairly technical and up to height and it is always really tough! Clear rounds were few and far between and something about the last fence must have been an optical illusion as more horses had it down throwing odd jumps than left it up.  Golly, Nico and Daisy all jumped clear which was impressive compared to the rest of the field.

Golly went first cross country and made a great fist of a tricky track, ballooning some of her fences and loving being back out again for eventual third spot. Nico was pretty suspicious of the water which came up early at fence 4 and ended up in trot as he warily entered what is, to be fair, a pretty icky water pool alongside a hedgerow which isn’t actually a natural place for water to be.  He jumped the angled shoulder brush out well though, albeit still determinedly in trot and gained in confidence as he went around the track for 6th place at the end of the day.

Daisy also deployed trot mode at the water and since it had worked for Nico Jonelle stayed in trot to the angled shoulder brush and was rewarded with a run out.  She jumped the alternative and carried on to the next combination where Daisy, always a super fast learner, said no thanks and excuse me but where is the alternative?  Daisy had a new learning experience when she discovered that was actually not an option and she learnt that lesson at warp speed too and sped around the rest of the track back in “I have got this” mode.  Girl power is back on track.

Tim was rocking it in the dressage with Gloire de Marchenval (Louis) for a 27.  Owners James and Rachel Good have much faith in Louis but were also relatively laid back about his maintaining his 100% strike rate of wins in his 2 runs so far and when he show jumped a beautiful clear in his section they were out on the cross country to cheer him on.  Tim runs his young horses according to the ground and their experience and not generally throwing everything at a win but despite adding 2.8 time he still headed the class so Louis now has a 3 from 3 win rate which does emulate the great Wesko ( Dash) who simply won and won as a young horse. Big shoes to fill but crack on Louis!

Faerie Usain (Maude) is no pushover and she is a powerhouse who is capable of a great test but right now is feeling pretty miffed at such a long break in her eventing starts in 2024.  To be fair she did 1 novice in September last year to finish her year, ran at the bottomless Larkhill in April and then found herself at WWEC today.  She wasn’t entirely on side for a 35 dressage but her time on the Sunshine Tour paid dividends with a lovely showjumping clear.

Tim set off cross country behind Jonelle on her full sister Golly and all seemed to go well until we saw Maude coming home fast but sans rider.  Maude is a unit for sure and she was fairly determined to get back to the horse box on her terms and surprisingly adept at avoiding potential captors en route so it seemed fair to call Rosie and warn her of Maude’s imminent arrival at the truck  than end up like a starfish in Maude’s wake.  Maude made it back fine and we were left to wonder where Tim was.  Jonelle jumped on a bike to find him and eventually they emerged with Tim looking relatively unscathed.  In Tim’s own words he described the approach to fence 13, the ditch and palisade, as good, in his mind they had left the ground but Maude put down at the last second and said an emphatic NO to the ditch.  Tim very eloquently described his fall as being in a sort of slow motion capitulation to gravity and said he even had time, as he slid up Maude’s not inconsiderable neck, to whisper in her ear as he passed her head, ” you are not really doing this to me are you?”  Maude answer was of the variety “No answer came the stern reply” and she did nothing obliging like lifting her head up but continued to watch her rider gracefully go over her head, whack his back against the palisade and go head first into the ditch.  At that point, as Tim faded into the distance, Maude decided flight was the better part of valour and off she went.

The rest of the day was far less exciting.  Tim and Kinsale Oltaire  (Phoebe) made a good fist of their Open Novice run for a 31 and a double clear for a top 10 finish and he then had a couple of 100’s to occupy his afternoon.  The Highlander ( Ivar) was having his first start for the season and he continued his 2023 good form in the 100 for a 23 dressage.  Ivar is a super jumper but Tim just said he was ring rusty for 8 faults in the showjumping…he has a big stride and he also found the 100 level pretty small for his talents!  Despite those rails he still finished 5th with a lovely clear cross country.

Tim’s gold star of the day actually went to Indy du Loir which was impressive given Louis’s win.  He said from being a gawky brat at Larkhill, and a long wait in between, today he showed his potential with a vastly improved performance and showing the talent he knew was lying underneath the swagger that Indy generally employs.  He finished 5th and Tim was absolutely delighted with him.

The young horse days are always fun and full of drama.  We head to Luhmuhlen this week and I think it is fairly certain to say that drama is the last thing we need!

Below….the long walk of shame as Tim comes home minus Maude. Nice of Jonelle to go find him but she sure wasn’t giving up her bike!