Please accept my apologies for not being able to provide an update until now. We’ve been working literally all hours available to pay for our trip to the 2* Europeans.
A trip to Belgium, a flag and a silver medal!
We’ve just returned from the most fabulous trip to Tongeren in Belgium where Ash and I where chosen to be part of team GBR! We arrived at Lauren Canning’s base, Home Farm Eventing, in Kent on Sunday evening. We met up with the rest of the team members and team vet Helen Beckerton to get all the horses checked over for the final time and complete health and export papers. The plan was to stay overnight at Lauren’s then head off in convoy – six trucks – to Dover where we’d meet up with Jonathan Chapman, Gary Parsonage, Zoe Voorspuy and Helen who where travelling by car too. An early alarm was set, horses fed, padded and bandaged to within and inch of their life and we headed off down the drive at 5.30am…… omg, this really was happening!!
First challenge…. we all checked into the port, passports checked – for Ash too – received our loading passes and off we trundled into the designated lane to wait to be loaded onto the ferry….. we waited for all our lorries to come through, but hold on, two were missing!!! What’s happened?! A couple of tense phone calls later we find out the ferry company have too many horses already allocated onto our boat, so they wouldn’t let them on!!! Thankfully, Jonathan and Sharon managed to sort it all out and finally, we were all ready to load….. but on the later boat!
It took us about 4 hours from the port to get to Tongeren in Belgium, it’s a really easy run and we arrived late afternoon. All the horses travelled really well and came off the trucks looking very bright. They had a leg stretch and the team GBR camp and stabling area was set-up, complete with lots of bunting and flags!
With our team dressage test taking place on Thursday, individual on Friday, cross country Saturday and show jumping on Sunday, it was going to be a very busy week! With two days of training sessions ahead of competition, putting the finishing touches to the team test and practising moves for the individual test it left Ash’s mouth very sore. He’s only ever suffered this once before at the very end of last season, but with all the training and competitions coming up in quick succession this season, it had obviously taken its toll and started carrying his tongue to side of his mouth to compensate. We had a laser with us, so he was treated everyday which helped tremendously but it was obviously concerning as we don’t want him in discomfort. Helen checked him over and gave us the all clear to compete, phew!
First step the trot up – lots of scrubbing, polishing, plaiting and painting later, our team were ready….. and boy did we look good!! Team GBR and individuals accepted! Relieved faces of the management team….
The morning of the team test…. now I’m not going to lie, I’m a very laid back character and thankfully my teammate Lauren who was lead rider of the team is too because things didn’t go to plan, but we managed to stay focused and completed the test. We scored great marks at the start, so whilst it was really disappointing, we knew we had a great team and we could pull it back round.
Individual dressage – I was second last to go and the judging appeared very harsh for our riders, with only one sub 50 score. With Ash’s mouth affecting his performance a little, I concentrated on riding an accurate and safe test. He was brilliant! I was so pleased, we completed the test albeit a tad too safe in the canter in retrospect, but he gave me a great feel so I was hoping for a sub 50 score…. nope, 51.9 – aaaaaghh!!
Cross country day – eeek! It was a tough course, not big or massively technical, but a twisty, hilly track meant questions came up very quickly, and there was literally no let up from fence three until you crossed the finish line. The time was going to be tight, and very influential. This was a very tough ask of Ash, at 8 years old and relatively inexperienced at being ridden under pressure. Team orders were not to take risks, but we had to keep the engines seriously motoring…. Our path finder Simon Ashworth and his fabulous horse Sunny III shot out of the start box – at nearly 18hh this course was less than suited to him – but they kept up a fabulous speedy rhythm and came home with a handful of time! As the support team tended to Sunny, the team got a debrief from Simon – we now knew were game on! Victoria Leabeater was out next, they were having a great round until a stop at the trakhener meant they ended up in the ditch and her mare cut her leg sadly so they had to retire. Super speedy clear rounds from team members Nicky Hill, Indi Limpus and individual Jack Pinkney let me feeling confident Ash and I could deliver a great round too…. and we did, he was just awesome, answering and reading every question like a total pro….. we came out of the start box like a rocket, and I never took the pressure off all the way around…. question, after question came up and he delivered. A horrid coffin was the second last fence which came at you off a sharp right handed steep downhill turn, it was causing mayhem so I needed to balance him around the turn but be mindful that he might see this as an opportunity to take a breath and get on his forehand… he was simply class, understood what was required, read the question, jumped it beautifully and landed running to the last. Wow, wow, WOW! That was tough but it felt amazing crossing that finishing line to loads of clapping and whooping! As the team tended to Ash – who cooled down and recovered brilliantly – I went down to see Lauren who was our last team member to run…. and run she did…. coming home with another super clear and handful of time! Sadly our other individual Sharon Poulding and her super mare Diz had a parting of company, both were completely fine, but I was gutted for her personally.
It turned out the time was incredibly influential and only achieved by three riders, ours – Jack, Indi and Nicky! So my 2 time penalties meant we were also one of the quickest around the course – that’s some performance for my home produced 8 year old! What a day…. our team were now standing in silver medal position!!!!
Another early start on Sunday as we prepared for the trot-up…. more scrubbing, plaiting and polishing! Our horses all looked great and where passed for the final phase!
We had six riders within the fifteen, so in touch of an individual medal…. nail biting stuff!! A clear round from Simon and Sunny, we are definitely on for a team medal – amazing! It was our turn…. the outside of the arena was packed with spectators and the atmosphere electric…. We can do this…. he jumped amazing…..until fence nine, where he had a totally green moment – a pole picker who was walking back from putting up a rail from the previous persons round was in his eyeline and few feet off the fence – totally unexpected he nipped out to the side at the last minute, we circled quickly and he jumped it beautifully, along with the final tricky line. Whilst I was gutted as it cost us a medal place, it’s just one of those things young horses can do. On the whole he coped with maturity beyond his years and experience, and we have some horse for the future!!
The team spirit between the riders, support team, friends and family has been just fantastic and something I hope everyone at some point gets to experience. We had highs, very low lows, but above all we had each others backs and worked as a team – a totally amazing experience and memories I know we will all treasure forever!
Thank you Peter Buist and selectors, for giving me the opportunity, Gary, Jonathan, Helen and Zoe for your support on the run up to and during the event. A massive thanks to my friend Mike Plummer of Owl Financial Services who stepped in at the last minute to provide much needed sponsorship of the SILVER medal winning 2* European Championship Team GBR! Thank you to my sponsors British Horse Feeds for continuing to support Ash and I, Belvoir Equine Supplements and Laser Therapy and Devoucoux for their support. Finally to T and Izzy for their help, support and just everything really, family, friends and my long suffering clients who have had to put up with lots of diary shuffling to enable me to do this!
Kick-on and stay safe!
It’s been a fantastic month with plenty going on, so D’artagnan put his dancing shoes on and went to Field House for his first appearance of 2017. He won the Elementary music which made him part qualified, so then we thought let’s get the other part done, and we went locally to Richmond Equestrian, where I had help from Caroline from British horse Feeds as I was on my own. We won the novice and then second in the Elementary music with 72+%….boom Qualified Regionals… I might add second to my trainer, but I did tell her I will be back to strike a win… ha ha banter between trainer and pupil.
New debute…. for Myself, and Welsh Stallion Mountainhare Jacks Lad, we headed the 30 minutes drive up the A61 our local show at Yorkshire Riding Centre, we competed in the novice 28 test, to be the overall winners with 68% receiving some BD points towards our qualification.
The famous three ladies are all now officially in foal and all scanned with heart beats Over the moon with Jenny at Ridings Vets, outstanding service.
Also said our goodbyes to two youngsters Jerry and Golly, both 3-year-olds have gone to dressage homes.
So can only mean one thing do we buy more foals? Maybe that’s something to watch us for in our next blog!
Love Sarah & Qd horses
July has been a busy month for me with lots of events and competitions going on.
Harry went out to play at the Pony Club area dressage competition again this year and managed to qualify for the 2017 PC championships for the second year running – so we get the opportunity to go and defend our title having won our arena at Cholmondley at the champs last year!! No pressure Harry. Unfortunately, things haven’t been going quite so well on the eventing front and Harry seems to have decided that he is not 100% sure if he wants to comply when it comes to the xc phase. Very strange as he has always been such a good xc horse but we just don’t seem to have got back on track this season following his virus at the end of last season. Back to the drawing board to decide what to do from here and hopefully get him back to loving xc very soon!
Fortunately, the pressure has been taken off Harry for the time being by Kenko, a lovely horse who I have been eventing for a friend. He started eventing this year and has already very successfully completed 5 BE100s, and had 4 double clears and several placings. Coming third at most recent outing! Kenko is a really talented horse and he will make step up to novice at our next event with the aim of completing a CIC1* by the end of the season and getting CCI qualified ready for next year!
My little 4 year old Rosie is coming on nicely, however I am taking it quite slowly with her as I don’t really believe in doing too much with young horses too soon. She is just having the odd play around and getting to see loads of new things! Then next year she will be ready to come out as a 5 year old and start eventing when she has had time to grow up a little.
My next event with Kenko is Aston le Walls and Harry will soon be heading off to Cholmondley Castle for the Dressage championships so lots of practising to do before those two outings! Hope these torrential rain showers stop before too long though!!
The month started with Market Bosworth side saddle show where we picked up the last 2 points we needed to qualify for the Equitation at the Side Saddle Nationals.
We took part in another Victorian side saddle display for English Heritage, this time at Brodsworth Hall near Doncaster. We did 4 displays over the two days with jumping, musical ride and a champagne race, which Tilly and I kept winning. The trouble is, that now Tilly thinks she has to race everywhere!
The following weekend was another polework clinic where Tilly got very excited at the sight of poles, but did some really good work.
One evening some friends and I went cross country schooling. Tilly and I are rather out of practice. After being a bit hesitant at the first jumps, Tilly really got back into it and was thoroughly enjoying herself.
The following weekend we took part in a WW1 display, but this time it was different to what we have done before. We were portraying the ladies of the re-mount section. This involved showing some drill work with the horses as well as a bit of skill of arms.
We finished the month of with a group side saddle jumping lesson. We had so much fun and really encouraged each other over the jumps, so feel we are now ready for the Side Saddle Nationals this coming weekend.
Jennie & Tilly x
July has been a hard month for my family and I. Due to tough times my eventing has had to take a bit of a back step at the moment.
On a nicer note, I’ve bought myself a new little puppy. I’ve named her Alaska, she is super tiny and cute! I can’t wait for her to come out in the lorry with me when we get back out eventing again!
I’ve been burying myself in sorting out and tiding around the yard at home. It’s that time of year when everywhere seems to be riddled with weeds so I’ve been doing lots of weeding!!! (Pretty boring!) I finally managed to work out how to use the topper on the tractor which has been a big help with this mammoth of a mission! The fields have now grown back lovely and green too. All our hayledge is bailed and in which meant I needed to give the xc course some maintenance TLC. All the XC fences got painted and strimmed around. I’ve also managed to get the showjumps and dressage arena set up out on the grass.
The horses have enjoyed an unexpected break although I’m back on board and getting my brain back into riding mode again. They’ve had a trim up this week so looking more like competition horses and less like bog ponies which they’ve resembled the past few weeks! We’re lucky to have such great facilities at home to keep schooling. It makes me incredibly proud to say that my Dad has built everything that’s seen on the yard today from scratch!