At the end of June, Robbie and I had another crack at a 1* at Great Witchingham – which wasn’t so great for us! On our dressage day the time ran away, and we made it down to the arenas with literally one minute to spare!!! Robbie was quickly vetted, and we rushed straight in to perform our test with no warm up what so ever. Really not ideal at all! I was disappointed with the test but somehow, we managed to score our personal best 1* dressage score!? The vets however, picked up on Robbie’s stiffness issues and wanted to re-inspect him in the morning.
We returned for our jumping phases early Saturday morning and I took Robbie for a good canter round before taking him down to the dressage warm up for our vet inspection. Luckily, it was decided that he was all good to go and we carried on warming up ready to go into the showjumping. Everything was going so well, and Robbie was jumping clear up until we both took a nasty rotational fall at the planks. I’m still not quite sure as to what exactly happened, having watched back on videos it looked as though we were on a good stride. Thankfully we were both ok although stiff and sore. A couple of ladies came over to speak to Fliss (who was grooming for me) to ask if Robbie and I were ok and both said there was a dip in the ground in front of the fence, I’m not sure if this is so, but it would make sense!
After a couple of weeks of rest for Robbie, lots of TLC and a couple of visits from his amazing chiropractor, Sophie Edwards, I was able to get back on board and start some flatwork. Robbie would never be out eventing without Sophie and I can’t thank her enough for all the hard work she has put into him!! I took him out onto the XC field at home the other morning and we went for a good canter round, he felt fine but wasn’t impressed and seemed rather confused that he wasn’t jumping any fences!! I plan to start back popping a jump this week and see how things go from there. I’d like to have him back to an event around the end of August but think it will be wise to have a few confidence runs at a lower level.
In the meantime, I was hoping to take Thursday for some 90’s. We entered for the 90open at Horseheath, which unfortunately got abandoned due to the recent dry spell and hot weather. Such a shame!
Hopefully our luck will improve during August!
The following week found us back astride and attending unaffiliated dressage. We won our Prelim class on our highest score to date of 78.8% and were 2nd in the Novice with 75%.
Just 2 days later found us in the 17th Century, portraying the cavalry of that era at Kimbolton Country Fair. We did 2 half an hour displays with the foot and spent the rest of the time in the shade of some huge trees, keeping cool.
We are now on the final countdown to this year’s Side Saddle Nationals at Addington Equestrian Centre. As we are doing some jumping classes, we attended a side saddle jumping day. We had great fun learning with friends and now feel more ready for the Nationals.
Our last show of the month was another side saddle show at a new location for us. We entered four classes and came away with two 1sts and two 2nds.
His name is Drover and he’s a coloured cob X Friesian, he’s 8 years old but hasn’t done much at all. My sister and I are now training him up for some dressage and showing. He’s a lovely big lad with a huge neck!
Once again the horses have taken a slight back seat as I work to finish my MSc Pharmacology course. I am currently in the thick of my final research project and have been spending an awful lot of time stuck in the labs at NTU recently. Thankfully the end is in sight and I am in the process of writing up my final piece of work and will be finished in September!
As I sit here reflecting on the last few weeks, it strikes me that often we’re all so very busy doing the doing, we often forget to take stock of what we’ve achieved. A shoeing customer of mine I visited recently revealed she keeps a diary – I mean a proper diary of thoughts, actions and achievements, not the appointment type! A once professional showjumper running alongside the greats including Ted Edgar, Lionel Dunning, John and Michael Whitaker. She’s since retired but the stories, journeys, encounters and experiences she recounts from her professional jumping days are inspiring. It left me wondering once I’d left if I sometimes need to press the pause button, take time to reflect and enjoy even the smallest (getting the new four year old to walk around the school without trying to deposit me on the floor!) a bit more…
July has been another fun filled month, with lots of trips out. We took a trip to our local agricultural show, Ashby. It takes place literally in the next door field to where we live, so we had a bird’s eye view of their extensive ground preparations for the equestrian rings. They watered the arenas twice every day for the week before the event, meaning the footing was perfect on show day. We took three horses to jump the BS classes – Mindy, Pluto and F. The plan was to jump Mindy in the 90cm Open and the other two in the Newcomers (1.10m)… the plan didn’t work out! We arrived in what we thought was plenty of time, to discover Mindy’s class had finished already! It was only 9.30am! Disappointingly, the showjumping entries were very low. The ring looked fabulous, such a shame for the organisers. Both Pluto and F jumped great rounds in the Newcomers, for a really unlucky pole down each.
Back at the lorry, we had a quick chat and decided to give Mindy her first crack at Newcomers. She’s been out competing over 1m and 1.05m tracks confidently and we felt this was too good an opportunity to miss. Getting horses exposed to a main ring atmosphere is invaluable and by the time we went into the arena, the spectators lined the arena – it was great! She cantered into that ring, and felt fab. We jumped around growing in confidence all the way, and she jumped her white socks off! She had a couple of spooky moments, one resulting in a pole on the floor (I don’t think she liked the song the band were playing just outside the arena!) but I’m just so proud of her performance.
A moment to reflect… At the start of this summer season, we spooked, slithered and ground to halt at anything remotely ‘scary’, so we’ve come a long way in such a short time.
My main man Ash (Ufonzo) finally got a spin around the lovely Frickley Park Horse Trails! We made a very last minute call to the secretary after we’d had a deluge of rain the day before. They were so accommodating; I simply can’t thank them enough. I think Ash was as pleased to be out eventing as I was! He was a little bright in the dressage, but still managed to lead the class by some way! He jumped a lovely clear – despite a very scary moment when he spooked at the second fence… I’m sure he was just checking I was still on my toes!
We headed into the xc phase well in the lead. Now I’m extremely competitive, so having to run around slowly when you’re leading and you know your horse can win hands down was tough, BUT, it’s taken a long time to be able to kick on out of that start box! My horse is just awesome, he jumped around like he’d never had a day from the sport. He is truly class and it was so good to have him back! He finished and washed down well, we were thrilled. I’m not going to lie, it was a heart in mouth moment when we trotted him up the following morning – it’s always a tense moment, but coming back from even the smallest injury, well… you get the idea! He trotted a little stiff but that was to be expected, but all was good! Hurrah! The boy is back… but and there’s a very big BUT… we took him for a sign off scan with our vet, Alex Knott, and thankfully all looks really good but after long discussions with Alex, taking into consideration the current ground conditions and weather forecast we have taken the decision to focus on next year. It’s gutting because I really wanted to have a crack at the 8/9yo 3* at Blenheim but he’s a really talented horse and therefore we have to look at the bigger picture. I’m going have to settle for a winter of dressage and showjumping instead!
A final moment to reflect… It’s all too easy to get bogged down and sometimes overwhelmed by the ‘day to day’ chores, bills to pay, work etc. but always try to remember…
Unless you feel the rain, you don’t get to experience the rainbow!
Kick on and stay safe
Another month and more competition prep… I think soon will be a time for putting our feet up and chilling out!
In our quest to practice the advance medium test before the festivals we travelled to a couple of new venues. The heat is not Stanley’s favourite but given the excessive summer weather he has actually tried really hard.
As you can see from the photo someone had an absolute ball! Luckily he saved his party tricks for the prize giving.
I was really pleased with the test. I felt it could have had more forward tendency but the work was smooth and accurate and 4 out of 5 changes were significantly improved! We finished second in the Advance Medium Bronze qualifying for the semi-finals! We are still new at this level and it certainly wasn’t mistake free, but it makes the future even more exciting.
What a month we have had! My horse just tries so hard and I am so lucky to have him looking and feeling on top form. Next stop for us is the regionals… let’s hope we can forget the changes for Medium level and pull out a good test! We will keep you informed next month!
Hannah & Stanley