Just one test today for Tom as Houghton does love to drag a CIC 3 out for as long as possible. Watkins is the ride of Zara Tindall and being an NZ TB he is not really a fan of dressage and it would be fair to say that he tolerates this phase rather than loves it. His forte is running and jumping and Tom warmed him up as sympathetically as possible, letting him stretch over his back and allowing him to remain calm before the job ahead.
Or, as Tom put it, “You only have a window of opportunity for him to be uphill and on the bit so I wait until the last minute!”. Holly Woodhead demonstrated a similar approach with Finduss PFB who gets pretty hot… she had him lunged and then hopped on 30 seconds before her test and went straight in! Team GB coach was all for alternative approaches and he told me that witht he TB horses you have to go with whatever works best for them.
Up the centre line went Tom and halted before turning right. Beep went the horn as he should have turned left! Tom claimed afterwards that this actually helped his cause as repeating the centre line and then turning left was in effect a way to settle Watkins and soften his outline. Whatever the reason ( aka excuse) Watkins tried very hard and he has improved significantly since his last attempt at CIC 3 star so one error of course was not really much to worry about.
That’s what happens when you go from competing 5 horses a day to having just one test… the mind wanders!