Infatuated again

Australian Stockhorse ‘Buzz’ attempting his first ODE

Well after last month being busy helping out committees, this month has been busy competing!

As a lead up to Western Australia’s premier event (the Perth Horse Trials Three Day Event) I took Tempus Fugit (Murphy) to the Gidgegannup CNC**. Not only do I like to use these events as fitness runs, I also like to use them to run through ‘mental strategies’ for me and as training runs for the horse.

In this instance, I had a few mental things to work on with the dressage, including trying to be a bit more blasé in the warmup in order to cope with variables I can’t control. My other task was to ‘let go’ of the canter, to try to develop a slower tempo with more groundcover (easier said than done!).

The aim with the XC was to walk out of the start box! At events where it doesn’t matter if I make the time or not, I like to use them to ‘school’ the start box – something that is hard to do without an atmosphere. I was very lucky when I was younger in that one schoolmaster I rode was very naughty in the start box, and he taught me that a horse that doesn’t rear and leap around at the start is a blessing. It is my belief that constant fast starts (especially on ex-racehorses) can create a demon and by walking out and slowly picking up canter can help defuse them.

Hope Springs ridden by Elizabeth Moore

The weekend finished well, and my young horse Major Moment finished up 3rd in the EVA105. I gave another one of my horses, Hope Springs, to good friend Elizabeth Moore to compete whilst he is on the market – after dressage she sat in third place behind me on Major Moment. However, by the end of the weekend and double clear jumping she moved up into second, pipping me at the post! I must say being on the owners side of the fence is actually good fun – I didn’t realise I would enjoy watching him go around as much as I do, the thrills of cross country, the nerves for the show jumping, I rode every stride! Hopefully it has given me a bit of insight and makes me a better choice for future owners.

From there we had a weekend with client’s horses at the ‘Little’ Gidgegannup – the EVA80 and below classes, as limited parking space means that Gidgegannup committee split their event over two weekends. They both enjoyed a ‘spooky’ weekend away learning the eventing ropes.

Tempus Fugit warming up for dressage with Peter Shaw

From Little Gidge, we frantically unpacked, washed and repacked to head to the Three Day 4 days later. I had Major Moment in the CCN105 and Tempus Fugit in the CIC***. Through trot up and onto dressage, it seems my work at earlier events is starting to pay off – Tempus Fugit put in some great work with Peter Shaw in the warmup, and we managed to hold it together nearly to the end of the test to take the lead on 50.6.

Cross country day dawned, and what I thought was a tough CCN105 track, proved to be so! Major Moment was his usual confident self, and was just having way too much fun on course. The third last fence was an apex dressed with pine trees, that when I walked the course thought was really tough, and apparently Major Moment thought that too – uncharacteristically leaving a leg, and leaving me on the ground! This has to be the first time in four years that I have come off on cross country.

It took me a while to convince the medics that I didn’t need to get X-rays  (I wasn’t in enough pain for anything to be broken), and after making me lay still for an hour or two to let the adrenalin die down, they got the Doctor to take a look and he cleared me to continue on. My body vest was torn apart during the fall (well placed hoof as you can see in the video below!) so I was crazily running around trying to find another one so I could take Murph out on cross country (thankyou Felicity Heggarty for lending me yours!).

wooroloo crash of the day from Darren Dawes on Vimeo.

I will admit I was nervous as Murph isn’t the easiest ride, but thought I would take each fence as it comes and pull up if necessary. After about jump 5 I slapped myself on the head and mentally yelled at myself ‘stop sitting and start bloody riding!’ which helped, as we jumped clear just adding some time and holding onto first place.

Monday morning dawned and a very stiff me realised I had to trot up! The Ground Jury did have a giggle when I presented, assuring me they wouldn’t judge my ‘trot’. But we passed through even if the rider was held!  By the time my showjumping came around I was really worried about my strength levels, as at a Three Day Murph can often gain a lot more get up and go, and can be quite strong for the showjumping. However, I whispered in his ear ‘please take care of Mum’ and he show jumped beautifully! The only one to jump clear in the 3star, we held onto the lead – boy was I glad the Medics didn’t get to say ‘I told you so’.


So, after our rough start to my relationship with Murphy earlier in the year all the ‘marriage counselling’ and persistence has paid off, as I am now well and truly infatuated again – I don’t think any other horse would have looked after a nervous me the way Murph did, and I don’t think I would have trusted any other horse as much as I trusted him that weekend! Now, it’s to keep the love coming all the way to Adelaide!

Photos and videos with thanks to Redfoto