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Tuesday 4th May - Wednesday 5th May, 2021 #SSCup

Rebecca Hart: Eager early season

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Photo credit Jason Goodlad Photography

We have been busy since my last update, Mango didn’t feel at all right by the end of February, we’ve been through various theories, had his saddle adjusted, feet looked at and back treated by our wonderful support team and each time he’s got a bit better. Resting him made it worse so think he’s just been a bit stiff and sore. So we started our ambitious plan for the start of the season on a bit of a wing and a prayer.

We went to British Eventing Oasby (1) to do the BE100, as usual the team at BEDE Events had done a fantastic job, perfect going again to give us some confidence stepping up a level. (He did a few BE100s in 2015 but they didn’t go particularly well and only ran BE90 last season.) Oasby doesn’t always go quite to plan with Mango for some reason so we were happy enough with our 35.3 dressage, show jumping was scaring me the most, we got there just before the break and the steward kindly said I could go in after two more riders or in half an hour, my warm up went perfectly so I went straight in. We got two down (one my fault one his) which on paper isn’t great but he was very confident and even managed to make one of the related distances on the correct striding which is definitely a first for us on grass.

There was a bit of a wait for the cross country unfortunately and despite my careful planning Mango had a bit of a moment at the start box, these happen from time to time but thankfully the starter just shortened our countdown and let us go before he got too far off the ground. The first and third caught him out a bit with the increase in height but his confidence increased the further we went, there was the odd little mistake but he attacked the whole course and only a few seconds over the time is certainly our best run at this level.

(Photo credit E.S Photography)

Then straight onto Lincolnshire Horse Trials. I’ve vetted at this event on many occasions but never quite had a horse ready for what’s a fairly big event early in the season. I knew it would be a big ask for Mango but thought it would be a good test for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup as there is a lot to look at and some more technical questions. Dressage wasn’t the best, it was windy and by a main road, came away with 37.5, (actually just quite pleased he kept his feet on the floor). Show jumping went pretty well really, again I messed up one then he touched another behind, with two of the first four fences on the floor I got a bit defensive in my riding but Mango had it covered and went clear round the rest, clever pony.

He was very keen to get to the cross country which had some full height fences and a few technical questions. It wasn’t a perfect round by any means but there were some spectacularly good moments when he locked onto some of the bigger fences strides out and flew them with scope I didn’t know he had. I kicked like crazy for the line but wasn’t surprised to hear I was slow over the PA (I’m not wearing a watch at this level until we’re confident with the fences as I don’t want the distraction and it was more a schooling round then a competitive one). On checking the scoreboard it turned out we had not only made it for the first time at BE100 we’d gone under the optimum by five seconds! Again not the best finishing score ever and no rosette but I was so proud of Mango’s attitude taking on such a big question and growing in self-confidence the whole way.

With six weeks to go before the big event we’re scaling back our competition schedule to concentrate on getting our flatwork back on track and make sure we’re as fit and well as we can be for the big day. The plan is to go to Eland Lodge BE90 two weeks before as a full length bold and hilly course should be good for a bit of last minute confidence and fitness. As usual Mango’s version of events along with videos of his adventures are available at http://ivebeenmangoed.blogspot.co.uk/