Guest Blog: It's All Up Hill For Rosco At Eland Lodge & Buckminster

Guest Blog: It's All Up Hill For Rosco At Eland Lodge & Buckminster

We managed to get a late entry to Eland Lodge BE event on Rosco following the cancellation of Skipton. I had been to Eland before and was looking forward to see how Rosco managed with the hill. It was a great sunny day with good ground conditions - we started off really well with a score of 28 in dressage (our best so far!) The show jumping was in an all-weather arena and although it had a couple of tight lines, it was generally a nice course. Unfortunately, we had a couple of poles but it was certainly the best round we’ve done from a control and rhythm point of view.  Rosco was really listening to me throughout the course and we jumped together without any ‘Gorky’ jumps, however because I had a couple of poles I was out of the placings.

The cross country was a fair test and it also featured a hill which - I thought it would be nice to see how Rosco coped with it. The biggest concern was the water which had a jump into it (I did have an alternative route which I was originally going to do however because I had 2 poles in the show jumping, I decided to put my brave pants on and go for the jump into water!) Unfortunately, Rosco had other ideas and after going well for most of the course he decided he wasn’t going to get his feet wet. He anchored his feet and refused to jump into the water.  After representing he hesitatingly dropped in and went on to finish the course well.  Although the result wasn’t too good, it was most certainly the best as a partnership we’ve ridden together in a competitive environment. 

Our next outing was at Buckminster Park in Lincolnshire, a traditional parkland event with a couple of big hills. The  weather on the day was great but on the night before they had had some very heavy rain. However this didn't cause any problems as the cross country was in a great condition - the parkland had absorbed all the rain. Unfortunately, the dressage wasn’t so good and just before I was about to go in the horse before tripped and it’s leg went down a deep hole (over a foot deep)… We think this was probably caused by the previous torrential rain. Rightly so, the stewards paused the competition and we had to wait about 40 mins for the hole to be filled in and made safe.  Up to then Rosco was warming up great, but I think with the long wait had switched him off a bit - perhaps I should have insisted on a bit more warming up once we got the go ahead, but he did a reasonable test and we were still in the top half of the scores.

The show jumping wasn’t muddy but it was like riding on sponge - on every take off the horses hooves sunk several inches making it rare to get a clear round - this most certainly unsettled Rosco. He did listen to me and as we progressed around the course he seemed to get more confidence. It was quite a costly round with 12 faults, but I think a lot of that was down to the ground conditions - it was the first time in these conditions for us so we just had to try to find out.

The actual cross country was traditional, with a very large double step down and a ditch rail combination which were both catching a few riders out.  As usual he set off very sticky over the first jump, then immediately gained confidence and started to pull away. The second hill was very steep and long, but Rosco powered up it (he definitely enjoyed his strong gallop). After a couple of AB combinations, which he did on a flowing stride, we came to the steps - I need to start trusting him as he took it without any hesitation keeping very straight.  He did slightly back off at the water so that’s an area I’m going to focus his training on... The ditch rail was just taken in a nice flowing stride and we finished well under the optimum time.  Even though we had our disappointments in the show jumping we still managed 13th in a big field of 40 entries.

When we got back to the lorry another competitor seemed to be staring at Rosco and eventually came over asking us what his official name was - I told her it was Rossmount Reward.  She had recognised his face and funnily enough she had his half brother.  She went into great detail about Rosco's dad who was an Irish racehorse - it turns out he was quite special, winning several races and wining the prestigious 'CROCKER CUP' at the Royal Dublin Show.  It was quite nice to hear about his father’s owner and how he was trained by Willie Mullens.  As you can imagine I’ve been on YouTube and Rosco definitely gets his good looks from his father “Financial Reward”.

Although Rosco’s progression has been a bit slower than I anticipated, he’s definitely much better at dressage than I could have imagined and his cross country is improving all the time. To help his show jumping I have set up a course at home on grass while the ground is soft to get some intensive practice in-between events.     

29 July 2021