Championnats 2014 – Sunday
Our programme for Sunday was much the same as Saturday. Alexandrine was first in action with Max, with an even earlier start time than Saturday. We all got up at about 5.30am. Alex, MC and Fabfan set off at about 7.00am and the LSH and I mooched around for a while before following with Boy and Girl and the ponies. But Boy was limping a bit – he’d been playing soccer the previous evening with some other boys on the campsite and had been injured. Would he be able to do the running required by some of the tests?
We arrived just in time to watch Alex and Max go. The first test was Reverse/Advance, but some evil genius came up with the idea that the elite competitors had to do this while remaining seated. The hardest part is always getting the horse to stop in the correct place when he’s finished. Can you see the rectangle outlined in front of the chair in the photo below? The horse must start and finish the exercise with his front feet inside that rectangle. And if he steps too far forward, he’s eliminated.
Max and Alexandrine made this one look easy and we were all hoping that things would continue to go smoothly and that they’d make up some ground. It was not to be, unfortunately. The next test was lateral movement. This is usually done over ground poles, but to make it more difficult, the elite horses had to move sideways over two low jumps, as well as ground poles.
Poor Max just did not believe that this was possible, and he never got past the point you see in the above picture. Zero scored.
The next test was a four-leafed clover – but the elite horses had to pass through a curtain after each ‘leaf’. Max did this perfectly, but too slow – another zero.
By now, Alexandrine knew she was well out of the running, so she opted for ten points for the last two tests. The penultimate one went ok, but the last one was a treble, with the third jump set off to one side. Max refused to believe that he had to go over all three – another zero scored.
Team Pimayon was off to a bad start. The kids were up next. Our hopes were pinned equally on their little shoulders. Could they improve on their 4th and 5th placings?
Boy and Spirit went first, but Spirit’s heart wasn’t in it. At the very first test, Reverse/Advance, he uncharacteristically ignored Boy and just wandered out of his ‘zone.’ The next test was pivot, or pirouette, which went well, as did the four-leafed clover. After that, there was the circle – basically free-lunging, two circles in one direction followed by two circles in the other. This was easy, but Boy was hobbling badly at this stage. The last test was a double of jumps. Would he be able to run alongside Spirit as he jumped?
Yes he would – but not fast enough to keep level with his pony. Spirit veered out of his zone after the second jump – eliminated.
What I love about these two kids is that they never get frustrated with their ponies. Spirit got a hug just the same as he would have if he’d done it perfectly. Boy must have been very disappointed – we all had high hopes for him – but I think he’ll be back at the Championnats even stronger next year.
Girl was next to go, right after her brother. Reverse/Advance – piece of cake.
Pivot – easy peasy, ten points for a quarter turn. The four-leafed clover went like clockwork for fifteen points, with Neros trotting obediently at her side throughout. He gave her some anxious moments in the circle exercise, proving difficult to turn and to stop, but they got their fifteen points. Finally the double.
Girl went for the fifteen point option, where she would have to stay 1.5 metres away from the pony as he jumped. They were perfect – apart from knocking a cone in the ‘arrival zone’ which gave them a two point penalty. Still, she was delighted with how she and Neros had finished and we were all pretty certain that she had achieved her goal of ‘Not Last.’
Flurry and I were next to go. Thankfully I had my brain engaged – but Flurry was only interested in one thing – finding carrots on my person. Uh-oh.
Reverse/Advance is something we’ve really worked on since our regional championships. He’s very good at it now. I was torn between going for twenty point or staying safe and going for fifteen points. Reason prevailed, and I went for the fifteen point option, where Flurry would have to back up four metres and then come forward and stop with his feet in the ‘end zone.’
I put him in position, and asked him to reverse. And he chose that moment to have one of his Slack-Jawed Yokel moments. He gazed at me, utterly bewildered.
Hunh? What you want, Mum?
Can I has carrot? No? You sure?
Duh… you want I go sideways? No?
Um forwards? No???
Carrot? Carrot? No? Really?
Umm you still asking me to do something… oh well, I’ll try backwards so..
He duly backed up the required four metres and I asked him to come forward, but then the Slack-Jawed Yokel made another appearance.
Oh, you want me to circle? Sure!!
He happily meandered out of his zone – zero points. GAH.
I will happily take the blame for all the mistakes on Saturday, but Flurry is taking this one on the chin! Not My Fault!
All hopes of improving our position flew out the window at that stage. Now I just wanted to Not Completely Disgrace Ourselves. We went on to do the pivot, which both of my horses usually struggle with. I really focussed and held the rope close under his chin, which makes it easier to adjust his balance if I feel he’s going to take a step forward. He was completely absorbed in trying to eat my hand, but he did start to turn… one foot stepped out, just at the end of his quarter pirouette, for a two point penalty, giving us eight points.
The four leafed clover was next. I’ve been building up to doing this at liberty at home and had been planning to go for the fifteen point option, where the lead rope is attached via an elastic. Flurry had been so disinterested in the warm-up, though, that I decided to stay safe and stick to ten points.
I looked on it as a schooling exercise and made a point of not pulling him, even when he tossed his head around at one stage.
After that, we had the circle. I was aware of the time limit, after my debacle in the embuches on Saturday, and I decided to get him cantering to speed things up. So this meant I had to canter, too. Ah, all those times I pretended I was a galloping horse as a child are finally coming in useful!
At last, he was paying attention to me and turned when asked and stopped when asked – without putting a big hairy hoof into my control zone. Phew. A clean fifteen points!
Last of all was the double. This is something I have to work on. To date, I’ve only ever done this running right beside the horse, limiting us to a ten point contract. We had also been told that the horse must not drop below a trot – if he walks or halts, it’s considered a refusal and you must go back to the start and do the whole lot again.
Flurry was prefect, trotting evenly down the line and popping the two jumps, so we finished on a reasonably good note. Unfortunately, thanks to our bad start with the Reverse/Advance, we slid down a few more places, finishing up 45th out of 62. Next year…
MC and Quieto were still to go. Quieto was incredibly well tuned into MC – finally, he has learned to keep his focus in a strange environment! Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of them from Sunday. I wanted to watch MC go, so our very own Paparazzi (the LSH) was busy holding Flurry for me.
They scored twenty at the reverse/advance, fifteen at the pivot, fifteen at the four-leafed clover, twenty at the circle. Just the double left… At home, he jumps at liberty, but this wasn’t an option and he had to stay on the long lead rope. But normally, MC cannot run fast enough to keep up with him – she’s had a hip replacement, after all! She slipped the rope out as he got ahead of her and he jumped the jumps easily, but he drifted out of his zone at the end – exactly what had happened to Boy and Spirit. Eliminated.
What a shame, we all agreed, especially when we saw the scores later on. MC and Quieto had jumped nine places, finishing fourteenth overall. If he had stayed within the lines for that last test, they would have finished seventh!
But the pony results – what about the pony results? I’ll let the pictures do the talking :
A podium finish! One very happy Girl and one very proud trainer!
Well now, that’s not a bad result for a little club from the wilds of Provence in its first year of existence, is it?
PS Huge thanks to the LSH for the photographs and all the support over the weekend.