Joanna and I both went to Roosendaal last week to compete in the International, with Joanna competing Apollo in the Young Riders and me taking Pascal to do the U25's classes. It was his first CDI in nearly three years and his first time abroad in over four. Zazu also came along for the experience.
We arrived on Tuesday to give them plenty of time to recover from the journey before the trot up on Wednesday and they all settled really well. Pascal always decides whoever he has travelled with is his best friend while we are away and hates to not be able to see them but luckily we were given stables opposite each other so he was quite happy to eat and keep his eye on both Zazu and Apollo.
On Wednesday we had a fairly relaxed morning followed by the trot up in the afternoon. Pascal and Apollo are pros at trot ups by now and knew exactly what they were supposed to be doing. Zazu however has never done one before so the whole thing was quite exciting! He puffed himself up whilst waiting for his go so much so that people were giving him a wide berth and then he passaged his way up and back. Definitely no soundness issues there! We then got to ride in the arenas which is always very fun and Pascal was particularly well behaved. He didn't seem fazed by anything and didn't even mind how crowded the arena was.
We had our first competition, the Inter II, on Thursday. Considering how calm Pascal was the day before I was hoping he would be relaxed during the test, but he had other ideas. As soon as we got into the main arena he pricked his ears and threw his legs around as only he can. Joanna told me afterwards that he looked like he was playing the 'the floor is lava' game and so taking that and the mistakes into account I was very happy with 66%! Joanna had a good first day ending up with 69% and 11th in a very hot class.
Joanna and Apollo had Friday off so it was just Pascal and I to compete. We decided to do the arena walk again to see if that would help but once again he was totally chilled in there in the morning then lit up for the test. He was a bit more focused though and we had less mistakes so even though the judges seemed to be marking harder than the day before we ended up with 66.6% and 9th.
Saturday was a very long day as Joanna's class started at 8am while mine didn't start until 7.30pm! Joanna did a beautiful test in the morning that looked like it was going to be a clear round when Apollo decided on the last extended canter that it would be really fun to bolt. He didn't go off course but did a couple of extra flying changes which was enough to put him just out of the qualifying spots for the music class on Sunday. We did all agree though that at least he was having fun! I had a very long wait for my music class and by the time it was my go everyone was sat in the viewing gallery having dinner so the atmosphere was huge. I was expecting a repeat of Thursday's performance from Pascal and he was certainly lit up going round the edge, but as soon as we started the test he really focused and we did our best test of the year so far. It certainly helped that when mum and I made up the routine we made it as difficult as possible to keep him occupied. I was very happy with how he had felt during the test but wasn't sure how it had all looked so when I got 71% and came 6th I was over the moon! It is our highest freestyle placing to date.
Through all this Zazu had a lovely time showing off to the other horses while I worked him and it was a huge learning curve for him. He did seem happy to be home though and loved going straight back in the field when we got home for a well deserved rest.