Monday, 25 October 2010

Fence Judging

Yesterday was totally exhausting, but a lot of fun. We turned the horses out and mucked out, grabbed Son 2, threw some clothes on him, then all jumped into the car (including 'Er Indoors) and whizzed up to Worksop.
We were actually due to fence judge for the Hunter Trials at our old livery yard, Holme House Farm. Usually they have a show cross, a competition where each rider does a round of showjumps then goes straight out onto the cross country course. Today was their first ever hunter trials, which is just the cross country phase. It looked absolutely beautiful spread out below us, and for the second time this year, I wish I'd bought Barnaby!
Mr O is the main judge and he co-ordinates everything. We can see loads of the fences spread out below us, but then the horses go into a field to our left and jump five fences in there, before coming back out, whizzing along in front of us, and then finishing by going back up the hill to our right, to the finish. If anything happens in the far field, the judge in there radios the information through to us, so we can make a note of it on the score sheet. We've had two girls, Jenna and Lindsey, who've helped us this year, and they've been really good at it. This means Mr O and I can work with one girl each as a 'writer,' so we watch the horse and call out comments to them, like, "Refusal at fence three - ten penalties,' and so on, and they write everything down and add it up at the end. It saves so much work for us, because it is actually quite hard to watch and write at the same time.
It turned out to be absolutely freezing, so after the Novice class, we all sat in the car, which was so much warmer. Even 'Er Indoors decided that being outside was above and beyond the call of duty and climbed in with us. Next year I am going to get her a little hi-viz vest with 'Steward' on it.

The first class is Novice Pairs, with fences at 2' 3" followed by Novice Individual, which looks like this:

This is followed by Intermediate Pairs (2' 9" I think). You have to have your wits about you for this one, as competitors can jump either the Intermediate fences or the Open fences.

Then comes the Intermediate individual class, followed by the Open. The other problem was that these two classes had a set of extra fences in a far field on the right. We got there too late to go and walk the course through there, and couldn't understand why competitors were taking so long to go round and come back through the water jump. Jenna and Lindsey told us there was a ditch in there, that might cause people some problems. At the very end of the competition we finally got a chance to run down and have a look, and I could instantly see what she meant.
The ditch looked like this.

I know it might look easy, but when I first saw it, my stomach lurched, as it's the most cavernous leap, and it made me think people were jumping right across the top of it, but as you can see from the photo, competitors were making their horses go down the bank, then leaping across the ditch, which has a little river in the bottom. Piece of cake!
Of course, now Mr O has seen this, he can't wait to have a go, so we are going to pop along in a few weeks time and have a run round, then go for a hack. I am looking forward to it myself, really, it's the second time I've looked at the fences this year and fancied having a go. I trust Barnaby enough now not to mess me around, and have jumped most of these fences on Max in the past, and sneaked round a few on Barnaby, come to that! Watch this space.

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