WOW - What a week! I had the most amazing time and firstly I must thank Shiela Barker and Mark Corbett for giving me two fantastic years on the South East squad. Their help and support has been invaluable and I hope that everyone else has enjoyed it as much as me. Now I am sure you want to find out how the actual riding went!!
We left as quickly as we could on Wednesday, however that was after I had played a hockey tournament at Reeds School and dashed home in time to get the lorry packed and we left at 1.30! It was a four hour journey with one very quick toilet stop, where I met another lady who was off to HOYS, so a quick exchange of Good Lucks and we were on the road again. We arrived in the park at 5.30, so a quick check by the vets who couldnt get anywhere near Ozzie - he did not like being attacked by a stethoscope!! I quickly tacked up and jumped on, I gave him a 30 minute walk and trot on a long rein and he seemed really relaxed - so I was feeling quite hopeful!
We got up nice and early on Thursday morning so I could give Ozzie another quiet ride before the trot up! Again he was very good, at which point I was almost worried about how well he was behaving! So back to the stables to smarten him up and get him plaited ready for the trot up! My plaits weren't my best effort as I managed to fail to pull his mane before I left, luckily he looked smart enough and we headed over to the trot up. I was number 8 so trotted up 8th. As soon as the trot up had finished I put his tack on as Tracey Brown had arrived to help me with my dressage warm up. The wind had really started to pick up by this point and Ozzie hated it, I kept my cool and rode him through it, however I was becoming increasingley worried that I was going to end up with another test like last year even though he was working so much better. We put him back in his stable for a couple of hours to chill before getting ready for my test! Thank god Tracey was there to help me as he was not being the easiest because of the wind, however we worked through it and he was going beautifully by the time I went in. He was so relaxed (as much as Ozzie can do relaxing) and came out with a 59.3 - I was delighted, not only had I broken 60, but it was a 13 mark improvement on last year! The only real dampener was that the judges had an 8% difference, one gave him 64% and the other 56% but I didn't care as I had got below 60! Polos and cuddles for the pony before setting off to walk the course!
It was big and bold, and I thought it was very cleverly built, it didn't look too tricky but I thought it may cause a fair few problems. When walking the course I managed to completely miss out fence 9 and Georgia Hatton Brown thought there was a flag in her line, until we realised we were meant to jump 2 parts of it, not all three! Its lucky we had Mark there as team trainer!
Friday was my day off and a chance for relaxation and another coursewalk, this time with Mark. It looked just as scary but definately more do-able the 2nd time round.
Cross country day was upon us before I knew it, and the 1*s were going first, before the cross country started I walked it once more on my own to gather my thoughts. Everyone seemed to be falling off and I was becoming more nervous by the minute. Eventually it was time to get on, but no - hold after hold left me wanting just to get going. Eventually we got the call to go up to the cross country warm up - getting there for a tack check revealed I didn't have a tag on my hat and I had 6 horses in front of me, having not even trotted yet! A call for the steward sorted it out, and before I knew it I had jumped each warm up fence and was called to the start. Suddenly realising my stick was in the wheelbarrow in the wash down box, I sent Anna Lawson running to get it, and got handed it as the starter said 30seconds - nothing like cutting it fine! With some calming words from Mark got me focussed, confident and ready to go!
Out of the start box and over the first, a lovely big log, before following the rope left handed to a big box fence with enough width - which he flew. At this point I lost a bit of control and galloped up to fence 3 - a steeplechase fence which I angled across before carrying on to fence 4. Fence four was the same turning line as last year, and I had very little control, I thought I would have to turn a circle - I then told myself to man up and turn him - which I did. I got so deep to it which was very handy as it caused him to land stationary allowing me to turn him before losing control again! Down the hill and over a simple fence at 5 before having to turn up to a coffin fence at 6. He started to listen and popped through it really nicely. Over the teddys bed at 7 - which was the fence I was worried about after Goring, however he made it feel easy and up on the clock I kicked on to the quarry at 8. I took the inside line and he made it feel simple. Still up on the clock I kept moving to the Barrel to Ditch at 9 which he popped very happily, a simple pheasant feeder was a nice let up before the water. A skinny brush followed by a 90 degree turn over a step into the water then over a skinny in the water with a shaped brush on top. He was a little pro, listening to every aid I gave him and making it feel like mini pony club! Over the blue wagon and successfully round the slippery corner to the wagon at the top of the hill which he flew, then over another steeplechase fence followed by a left handed turn to the corner which was lovely, he got a bit deep to the corner but he was dead straight. Through the sunken road like grid work in the school, then over a wide roll top before heading to the main arena. I had planned to get straight and go round the intermediate fence, but he was jumping so well I cut inside on the angle as I was 10 seconds down on the clock. He flew it and still had plenty of jump, so I kicked onto the last, pulling up with just 3.6 time faults! So proud of my little pony.
He was a bit stiff Saturday night which was hardly suprising, but with a lot of TLC he was feeling much better on Sunday morning.
The trot up went well, he dragged me back down the trot up flicking his toes and generally showing off - luckily I managed to keep hold of him.
The showjumping was big and wide, so I knew I had to attack it. He felt very flat outside, but went in and exploded. He jumped amazingley, making all but one of the horse striding down the distances. Sadly he managed to make the treble of uprights much too short and had the out down, but he jumped fantastically.
He finished in 34th place and his score counted towards the teams 4th place which was an added bonus.
I am so proud of my little superstar! And he is now for sale if you hear of anyone - he would be a fantastic FEI event pony.
I couldnt sign this off without mentioning the South Easts fantastic win in the Weston's got Talent competition. Choreographer Georgia had made a routine to Gimme Gimme Gimme by Abba and on Friday night we performed it to an overflowing marquee! Well the South East were victorious, acheiving 42/40, definately helped by Shiela in a very short sparkley dress and Mark in a blonde wig. Not to mention Will topless and in Bright Pink tights.
YES SOUTH EAST!
I had the most amazing time so if you are a junior and have the oppurtunity, use the junior programme as it is such good fun and I have made some ama