So I have failed on keeping up to date with blogs since June and so much has happened since then. If you would like to find out about all the events in more detail then head over to my Facebook page where there are updates for each event.
"I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted." This is no more true than at the end of the 2017 season where I have had the most amazing year. I am getting to do what I love all day every day alongside some teaching. I am quite literally living the dream!
So this season I have competed 19 times at 12 different events. Coco has done 9 events, Hudson 5, Joey 4 and I rode Smarty at one event.
So a few basic stats...
Average dressage score: 33.5
SJ Clears: 11/19 (58%)
XC clears: 17/19 (89%)
This only touches the surface of what my fantastic horses have done this year. We jumped at all 3 Hickstead Jumping meetings with Joey, Hudson, Lily and Coco and all four picked up placings at some point during the year. Always an enjoyable show and gives the horses such good experience. Of course the highlight was Coco jumping round the Eventers Challenge in the main arena in style. Finishing 10th in very good company. I hope we get an invite to come back next year!
We have also had several good results out show jumping with Coco qualifying for the Foxhunter 2nd rounds as well as the 1.30m Final at the British Showjumping Champs.
However, there is one moment this year that I will never ever forget. The moment I realised that with my horse of a lifetime we had won a car. We had an impressive 2nd in the AI at South of England (1) and followed it up with a 3rd place at Eridge. So it came down to the wire at South of England (2) with Pippa Funnell and I on equal points. However, 10th place in the OI after Pippa couldn't run Billy Walk On meant we had done it. It took a few days to actually sink in - not many people can say they have won a car. He is 18 now and just getting better and better.
So a few thank you's to make:
Firstly to my Mum, Gill Wood who not only helps me look after the horses and exercise them, drives round the country at all hours and generally supports everything I do, she also keeps all the horses in one piece as she is an Equine Chiropractor and I don't believe Coco would ever have achieved what he has this year without all her input.
To Liz and Kari Hale who own the beautiful yard where I am lucky to keep my horses but also own Coco and part own Hudson. They have supported me for many years now and it was lovely they could both make it to South of England when Coco won the car.
To Peter Greenaway for his ongoing support, having sent me Oscar and Hudson to produce and of course we have bought Hudson. His horses are all such gorgeous characters and if you are looking for a beautifully bred, young competition horse then don't hesitate to get in contact with him at Greenlane Stud.
To Simple System Ltd who have supported me for several years and I totally believe in their products. They have the most amazing feedline which is accessible for everyone and they are so knowledgeable that I know I can rely on their products to keep my horses feeling good on the inside and looking stunning on the outside.
Equine Superstore have joined us this year. Providing me with products to test and review. They have a brilliant range of products and are a friendly and reliable company. I am delighted to be working with them and hope we can build on it going forwards.
Thank you to my fantastic trainers who have helped me get the best out of my horses. Ernest Dillon, who nearly 15 years later is still inspiring me to ride better and improve as a jumping rider. He has nearly managed to persuade me to be a showjumper!
Also to Jenny Watson and Alison Craig who have helped me with the horses on the flat this year. The horses work has improved beyond recognition this year and I couldn't have done it without you.
Finally thank you to my very much long suffering boyfriend, Rob. Who has just about managed to stop complaining every time my alarm goes off before 7am! However, in all seriousness, thank you for your support and encouragement!
Here is to a winter of show jumping, dressage and arena eventing before making the 2018 season our best ever.
See the picture summary of 2017 by Clicking Here.
Ok, so I said I would update after Royal Windsor and it is now a month later, but better late than never as they say.
We have been out show jumping a lot the last couple of months, Coco has jumped another 1.30m double clear as well as jumping several double clears at 1.20m and is qualified for Foxhunter 2nd rounds which I am going to have a go at. Lily is flying round the smaller classes just rebuilding confidence and she has picked up several more placings. Am looking to step her back up to the 1.10s again soon so that she actually has to try!!
The baby bay boys (aka Hudson and Joey) have been putting their best foot forwards and both successfully completed their first event at Ascott Under Wychwood at the beginning of June. Joey did a sweet test for 33 and then jumped a double clear to finish on it for 4th place and won a lovely boquet of flowers for his efforts. Hudson got a bit tense in the dressage due to managing to slip over behind before I got on him. Luckily we have a travelling chiropractor and Mum was able to work her magic before the jumping phases. He jumped a sweet SJ round for 4 faults and then cruised round the XC picking up more and more confidence with every fence to finish with just 0.8 time faults. A great start. They have also been out show jumping with Joey picking up a couple of British Novice double clears towards next years second rounds. Hudson has jumped more Discoverys and a 1.05 with ease, you just feel you could put the fences up and up and he would jump round just the same.
Hudson also made his Badminton debut in the 5yo BYEH class, ready for his 4* appearance in a few years time(!!). I honestly couldn't fault him all day. He did a sweet test for a respectable mark, right up there with some very smart and much more experienced 5yos. He then went on to jump a fantastic round and was unlucky to role one pole but was still one of the top jump marks. He finished in the middle of the field but considering how little he had done, especially in comparison to the others, he really held his own.
Joey and Hudson are entered at Offchurch Bury BE90 before hopefully making their BE100 debut at Upton House in the middle of July.
Coco has been on fantastic form. We enjoyed a lovely two days at Royal Windsor, where he jumped the Foxhunter in the main arena which was pretty cool, unfortunately when I went to turn him a bit tighter in the jump off it made him a little tense and so he had two rails, still very respectable! Then the following day we jumped the B&C Handicap which was a speed class. There was a huge buzz round the arena and I was delighted that he stayed relaxed and although picked up an unlucky 8 faults I was delighted with how he jumped. He also ran at Tweseldown OI after we withdrew from Rockingham as it was so wet and we didn't dare risk him. He did a lovely test for a disappointing 35, then a super showjumping round for 4 faults. We then went out for a nice run round the XC but no aim of going too quick, however he just ate up the course despite me never asking him to gallop and was 12th fastest of over 70 intermediate combinations.
This set us up nicely for Little Downham Advanced the following weekend. He was a star all day at Little Downham, a really super dressage, the best I felt he had ever gone and the best I had ridden and the judges agreed scoring us 27.4 (12th/47). He then jumped a lovely round SJ and was so unlucky to roll the back rail of the in of the combination. It started to pour with rain as we left the start box and it was by no means our most fluent round, but that horse just keeps trying, if we made a mistake he would prick his ears and go again. A horse that does that just fills you with confidence and he finished full of running and full of confidence which was great. We picked up 24.4 time faults which was not the slowest at all and was good enough to leave us 16th.
This week we are off to Hickstead and hopefully avoiding the heatwave (as much as we can). With the weather like this, I am making sure the horses are all getting their Simple System Summer Salt to replace any salts they are losing through sweat. They don't tend to want to eat so much whilst it's so hot but I still make sure they all get their balancer. Joey and Hudson get Total Eclipse whilst Coco has Lunar Eclipse and Linseed to keep them looking and feeling great.
Hopefully lots of exciting updates in my next blog.
So it is now April and my last blog was at the beginning of February.. Sorry! I will try to keep it as short as I can whilst trying to remember all the exciting things that have happened since February. So in brief, since February all four of the horses have been out competing. Coco is back out Eventing and on fire, feeling better than ever. Lily has been back out show jumping and out of 3 competitions has jumped 3 double clears for two wins and a 3rd! Joey has also been out show jumping and Arena Eventing picking up some placings and some double clears. Hudson has also been back out after a quiet winter building strength and fitness and he is feeling better than ever.
We went to Wellington BS at the beginning of February with Joey and he jumped two super double clears in the British Novice and Discovery for 5th and 3rd. Click Here to see the video. He then went Cross Country schooling at Tweseldown and loved it, taking it all in his stride. Coco then went to Felbridge BS jumping a super speedy double clear for 3rd in the Foxhunter with over 60 entries. The next outing was to Aston Le Walls arena eventing with Joey for the BE90. He did a sweet test but still a bit wobbly. I proceeded to fall off at the first fence in the jumping and join the 2017 tumblers club but once I had caught him and got back on, he jumped a super clear! To see the video Click Here. To make sure Joey hadn't scared himself at Aston, we headed to Felbridge combined training where he did a lovely test and a super jumping round with the wind blowing down one pole(!!). I also rode Nathalie George's 'Tully' in the BE80 who did a 31 dressage and finished on it to win. Then I rode 'Cedric' in the BE90 for a 27.5 dressage and clear show jumping for 2nd.
Back to Aston again the next weekend with Joey and Coco. The 100 for Joey was a huge ask and I managed to fall off for the 2nd time in a week (whoops) but it was really educational and he tried so hard! Coco saved the day by jumping the most amazing double clear in the 2* Arena Eventing class, including clearing two big uprights after the cross country to be one of only two double clears and taking the win! You can see Coco's winning round by Clicking Here. To prove it wasn't a fluke, we then went to Felbridge BS the following week where he rolled a couple of poles but followed it up with our first 1.30m double clear - what a star!
Then it was time for Lily's first outing in nearly a year, I have been rehabbing her slowly since November from the field and without shoes on. She is the happiest she has ever been. We went to Petley Wood BS and just jumped the 90open but a speedy double clear was enough for the win! Joey was a little tense and tight in the British Novice for a couple of rails, but settled down beautifully for a really unlucky pole at the last in the jump off, there were so few double clears it was good enough for 4th. I couldn't recommend Petley Wood as a venue enough. Lovely arena, lovely atmosphere and friendly organisers. We haven't had time to get back yet, but we definitely will be back lots! The video from Petley with both horses can be seen Here.
First event of the season was Aldon with Coco. Unfortunately he insisted that the dressage required some extra moves as we trotted down the centre line, but there were nice moments so 36.8 was a fair score. He show jumped really well for 4 faults at the smallest upright on the course. As always, he cruised round the cross country for 10.4 time which was good enough for 10th. A great start to 2017. The highlights of the day are Here.
Hudson's first outing of 2017 was to Windsor Park Equestrian Club for his first dressage test. He was an absolute joy to take out, scoring 68.7% for his first time ever on grass and so much potential too. We took Coco for dressage practice after his attempts at Aldon and he disgraced himself again - but we hired the arena and I schooled him through the test again which was a major breakthrough. Unfortunately we had a disasterous journey home, breaking down on the m25 and being stuck there for 5 hours. In the end the road had to be shut both ways whilst we transferred the horses from one lorry, to a friends lorry which they had never been in before at 10pm at night in the dark along the m25. Coco was a superstar and this rubbed off on Hudson who was so patient and brilliantly behaved throughout. A very stressful experience and very disappointed in the emergency services who took 40 minutes to get to us when we were broken down in a live lane and then as soon as we were on the hard shoulder, re-opened all 4 lanes with no speed restrictions so cars and lorries were flying past and shaking our lorry constantly.
Event number two of the season was at Belton. Very much anticipated after all the recommendations we had about it as such a lovely event. Safe to say it did not disappoint, a real atmosphere, super courses, super ground and fantastically organised. We stabled at Hannah Westropp's on the Friday night thanks to a recommendation from the Upton's, Coco was in heaven and we had dinner cooked for us - it was very civilised! Having had some help in the dressage from Jenny Watson and Alison Craig, Coco performed to his best in that phase, I was delighted with how well he listened to me and stayed relaxed in a buzzy arena. He scored 50, his best mark today and makes me even more determined to break the '50' barrier this season. We had a long wait before the show jumping and when we went in he was very tense and slightly worried which resulted in two early poles, he then settled and jumped well before an unlucky rub at the last for 12 faults. On to the cross country and he was incredible, one of very few horses to take the direct route clear at a tricky combination at 17 and was so focused on his job. I never pushed for the time so finished with 7.2 time leaving us in 23rd of over 50 starters. The highlights can be seen here. I also bought the full Cross Country Round from An Eventful Life which can be seen Here.
Event number 3 came a lot sooner than expected, Coco was feeling so good and the ground holding up brilliantly that we thought we would put a last minute entry in for South of England AI. The gamble paid off, with a super dresssage which was the Badminton test, scoring 37.7 (flying changes were a little exciting!) and not being far off the pace in good company. He followed it up with an awesome double clear and one of just three across all the intermediate sections to make the time which left him in 2nd place between Pippa on Sandman and Tina Cook on Star Witness - so not a bad result. He picked up 10 points which has now taken him into Advanced points! The days video can be seen Here.
Finally this week we have had two show jumping outings with Lily and Hudson. The first was to Coombelands on Thursday, where both horses jumped the British Novice. Hudson had a couple in the jump off where he got a bit tired and Lily jumped a super speedy double clear to win the open section. We also took Hudson for his first taste of XC whilst we were there and he showed a lot of potential! The next stop was Felbridge today for the British Novice and Discovery. A super round from both horses for 4 faults each at the same fence!! However they were both super in the Discovery with it being Hudson's first ever 1m track he was unlucky to have one down in a decent jump off. Lily jumped a super speedy double clear for 2nd in the open section.. She would have won if the jockey had remembered where the timer for the jump off started!! Still 4 shows, and two wins a 2nd and a 3rd isn't bad going!
Hudson's Video: Click Here
Lily's Video: Click Here
So that is a brief summary of the goings on with the dream team of bays for 2017 and so far they really are proving they are the dream team and I am feeling very lucky to have such super horses and an awesome support team. I have also been getting on very well with my teaching, absolutely loving the work I am doing at St Teresa's Equestrian with a super bunch of kids and a lovely environment to work in. The Royal Holloway Riding Teams have been amazing this year, winning 9/11 competitions as a team and qualifying all 3 teams for Regionals. As a result I was lucky enough to follow up my 'Sportswoman of the Year 2016' award with 'Coach of the Year 2017' which is a true honour and I could not have done it without the support of a fantastic club.
So exciting goings on over the next month includes taking Coco back to Withington to fix the result from last year, a trip to Royal Windsor for some show jumping and Hudson is entered for the BYEH 5yo at Badminton! So the next update will be after Royal Windsor where hopefully I will have lots more exciting news to report.
It’s February already and despite the weather being against us for a lot of January we have managed to keep the horses ticking over on the whole and even made it to some competitions.
I am delighted that I have got myself a new JAS pony in little Joey! The first weekend of January we headed to Merrist Wood for the JAS. A slight military operation was required as my cousin and I had 4 horses going in 4 different classes with times from 9am to 5pm! We managed to get the early horses home and swap them for the others so none of them were stood on the lorry too long. I had Joey in the 90Open, his first indoor competition and first JAS, he was a star and although jumped a bit big and green to start with, he settled into his rhythm beautifully and despite having an unlucky pole he still managed a style score of 9 and with just 2 time faults he took the win. Second rosette in two weeks and his first win. He then jumped in the BE100 but conscious not to make him tired in the warm up I went in with a bit of a flat canter and with the jumps having gone up 10cm too I don’t think he realised! He rolled 3 of the first 4 fences and then jumped a lovely clear so I was delighted with him. Joey went home and Coco came back to have a pop round the Open Novice, so it was rather small for him but a good fitness run and some fun! He was squeeling every time he landed over the warm up fences and trying his best to employ the ‘faster we go the better’ tactics which I will admit I wasn’t such a fan of! Anyway, he went in and was ridiculously over excited so hit the 2nd fence which came down, then settled into his job and jumped a great clear with a style mark of 8 and just one time fault to finish 3rd. You can see the video from the JAS by Clicking Here.
I then had a fab couple of jumping lessons with Ernest on Coco and Hudson. Hudson just improves with each lesson as he is strengthening up and finding his jump. It is still going to take time with him though so whilst it has been snowing and frozen through January we have given him an easy time as we feel he will benefit more from lots of hacking now to build his base fitness. The jump is there and will get better as he strengthens up so we are in no rush this year – he will be a horse for the long term and we want to get the basics right to give him the best future possible. The video to him jumping with Ernest can be seen by Clicking Here. It then decided to snow before freezing solid for 2 weeks so the most we could do was hack them in walk. Fit event horses and no work isn’t the greatest combination but we managed.
Joey and Coco have been cross country schooling, Jenny Wijsmuller came and rode Coco for me as a nanny for Joey but he didn’t need it. First time on grass cross country and you would think he had been doing it all his life, jumped everything first time including ditches and straight through the water. So now I am actually letting myself get excited for the 2017 eventing season and currently hoping that he will start his campaign at Swallcliffe BE90Open. You can see the video of the XC schooling by Clicking Here.
Today we finally managed to get Coco out to a decent Show Jumping show (even though the weather tried to sabotage us again!!). We made the trip up to Addington which is always worth the journey, brilliantly organised, lovely arena and educational courses. As he hadn’t jumped for a while we just entered the 1.15Open and the Foxhunter to give him a jump and hopefully we will be able to step back up to 1.30m next time out. He was very happy, as only Coco can be, and flew round the 1.15m, unfortunately despite our best efforts and speedy jump off turns we were too slow to pick up any prizes but he jumped well. We never quite hit such a nice rhythm in the Foxhunter but he still jumped really well, unfortunately just coming down a little bit on a back rail coming out of a double which came down. See the video by Clicking Here. However a great outing to get our eye back in and set us up for more excitement over the next couple of months. The plan with him currently is to start his campaign at Aldon Intermediate before heading for Belton CIC2* as we have heard such great things about it and I have never been. It was lovely meeting fellow eventer Lydia Hannon at Addington today and she confirmed that Belton would be well worth the trip!
The University Riding Teams have started 2017 with a bang, continuing their incredible run of form from last term taking another two teams wins so far this year, making the tally 7 competitions, 6 team wins, and 1 team second. They have also picked up 8/8 Individual placings since Christmas. One team is already confirmed as through to Regionals with 3/3 wins so far so all to play for now.
We have got more BS planned, a trip to Aston for their Arena Eventing and an outing to Munstead for Combined Training on grass before we start our 2017 Eventing campaign!
That's all for now
Well this is it, Christmas is over and the first BE competitions of 2017 are entered. This year has gone so fast it is easy to forget that it was less than a year ago I was handing in my dissertation, marking the beginning of the end of my University life. I have graduated from Uni with a 2:1, despite sitting my finals with a broken collarbone. I have made lifelong friends and am now loving University Riding from a team trainer perspective, rather than a rider. So far this season the teams have had a brilliant set of results with 4 team wins and a team 2nd out of five competitions. They have also picked up several individual placings at each competition which is a really positive start. Hopefully they will continue the good form next term and we will qualify three teams for regionals for the first time ever.
I am trying not to let myself get excited for the 2017 season yet but I am finding it really hard. I have three gorgeous horses that are raring to go and feeling fantastic. On that note I must introduce you to the new addition to the team, Greenlanes Hudson, Hudson, owned by Peter Greenaway of GreenLane Stud. He is a 4yo by Zambesi out of a Calvados x Voltaire mare and is with us to produce as an event horse. So far he is looking like a very exciting prospect for 5 yr old classes in 2017.
Smarty made the trip over to Germany safely and is very much enjoying being back with Amy. They are hard at work, preparing to take the eventing world by storm on the continent next season and I have no doubts that they will!
Coco continues to be his enthusiastic self, he has been out show jumping and been placed in a Foxhunter at Addington. See the video by CLICKING HERE. We have kept him in work as we feel that is more beneficial for a horse like him who is much better for being busy and he will be 18 next year. He is entered for two days show jumping at Bury Farm, trying to have some fun jumping some bigger tracks. It is a great idea apart from the fact that we will be staying in the lorry, in January!! He is also going to the JAS at Merrist Wood as although it is only the Novice, it gives him a bit of fun. Currently the plan is to crack on eventing him next year. But we will play it by ear and pick and choose our events, as long as he feels good he will keep eventing.
Joey has been a superstar and not put a foot wrong so far. He has jumped round his first two shows at Parwood British Novice, having a very unlucky pole in the jump off and Pyecombe 90cm Arena Eventing where he flew round but jockey error meant he had a silly pole. You can see the video of him by CLICKING HERE. Then today he managed to pick up his first ever rosette. We went to Felbridge BE90 Combined Training where he did his first ever dressage test, he was a little wobbly and inattentive at times but you would never have guessed it was the first time in a dressage arena. He was given a very generous mark of 28.5 but an exciting start with lots more to come. He then popped round the jumping making it feel so small for a lovely clear which was good enough for us to finish 2nd in a huge class of 30! You can see the video by CLICKING HERE.
Hudson had been out to a couple of shows before we got him. He has proved what a lovely, level headed young horse he is. He is so bold and easy to ride, but at the moment being a big weak baby he makes the odd mistake and has the odd rail down but he is fundamentally a horse that wants to leave the fences up. We will give him time to grow into himself and give him the best chance of reaching his full potential (which we think could be rather special).
A quick note on Lily, who is back in hacking work without shoes on and is feeling really quite good. I am cautiously optimistic that she will be back out jumping in 2017 but we will take each step as it comes. She currently has a very fat tummy and resembles a New Forest pony on the moors, but she is very happy!
So that is all for now. It just remains for me to say another huge Thank You to everyone who has helped me this year. My fabulous sponsors Simple System who are on the end of the phone with advice whenever it is needed. The horses look great and as a result they are able to perform to their best. I am sure I would not be where I am without their invaluable support, just knowing I am able to contact their fantastically educated feedline gives me so much confidence. What is even better is it is not just me as a sponsored rider that gets the access to their feedline, but anyone who needs advice can give them a ring and receive their knowledgeable answers. To my parents and particularly my mum who is groom, lorry driver and general superhero. It also helps she is a very good equine chiropractor and keep my horses feeling tip top! To my aunt and uncle, Liz and Kari for their ongoing support with Coco and of course a lovely yard that I can base myself at. To Morganne and Dan who kept me sane (well as much as that is possible) throughout my final year at Uni and still are now, lifelong friends I hope. To all those that helped out when I had broken my collarbone, Jenny Wijsmuller who helped keep the horses exercised, Laura Wijsmuller and Nathalie George who drove me to uni and back for my exams and to Freyja Cox for coming eventing with me and being a brilliant groom when Mummy Wood went on holiday! Finally to my long suffering boyfriend, Rob, who not only has to accept the fact I am out riding horses all day, but when I go and see him in the evenings, I am normally so tired I fall asleep (although maybe that is a positive)!
Anyway, enough from me.. I am sure you are all bored (if you have even made it to this point). If you have, pour yourself a drink and raise a glass to 2017. Whatever happens, I am going to take the positives from the year and employ the attitude of the inspiring Hannah Francis. We are not going to let her be forgotten as she has inspired us all.
So that is it, my 10th season with BE and probably the biggest roller coaster of a season that I have had. Although I can't complain after having nine fairly faultless seasons. I have competed at 22 events with three different horses and recorded my best ever results at International level.
But before I start recapping some of my highlights of the season I will go back to our last event of the season. We made the journey down to Aldon, one of my favourite events on the calendar and a venue where I have always had brilliant rides over well built and cleverly designed courses. An early start on the Saturday to get there in time for Smarty's dressage. We have had a few lessons with Sally Andrews to help me really improve my test riding technique, which from a rider and someone who judges eventing dressage up to Advanced level as well, it has really paid off. He performed a beautiful test and was rewarded with a leading score of 42.6, the test can be seen by Clicking Here. Unfortunately I think the early start and long journey, and then working really hard in the dressage made him a little tired and flat for the show jumping. He jumped beautifully and as the pictures show he was clearing them by miles, unfortunately he had three down which was very disappointing. However that is horses and there was nothing I would have ridden differently if I had a second chance, some days they stay up with a bit of a rub and other days they don't! Smarty then went to bed for a rest whilst Coco came out for his test. He was clearly bored of having had to wait around all day and to say he was wild was an understatement. I did my best to settle him outside and he went in and really tried for me, unfortunately we had a change in one of the counter canters but otherwise it was mistake free. His two half pirouettes were super and the marks agreed, with a 7 & 7.5 for one and 7.5 & 8 for the other. This was good enough for a score of 50.8 which was 22nd overnight but within a fence of the top ten so all to play for! We then had a lovely course walk with Katie Davies and her mum Francis and Peter Greenaway who had come along to support before heading back to the rugby club for a lovely dinner and catch up! We had to shout over the music a bit but plenty of people provided entertainment with their dancing and it seemed to be a good night. We left about 11 to go and check the boys and get ourselves to bed.
We had a lovely relaxed Sunday morning where I went and walked the course to make sure I knew all my lines before getting on Smarty who proceeded to jump round like a total pro (again). Finishing 14 seconds inside the time without me pushing him at all. He is so genuine and brave and I am going to really really miss riding him across the country as he is something very special. Unfortunately the show jumps proved costly, with 2 down he would have been 3rd but with three down he finished 8th. However he tried his best and it just wasn't meant to be. Have a look at his jumping by Clicking Here. I have also bought the amazing video of his cross country from An Eventful Life which can be seen by Clicking Here.
Then it was time for Coco to show jump and it was causing plenty of trouble, we were more than capable of a clear round if I rode him well and he was able to relax - which sometimes he finds a little challenging! He was definitely a little over excited in the warm-up but the bigger the fences got the better and more relaxed he jumped. The problem in the ring was that the course wasn't big but very cleverly built. However with years of jumping lessons with Ernest in the back of my mind I went in determined to give Coco every chance to jump his best and he responded beautifully. He jumped the most amazing clear to pull us up to 7th place! On to the fun bit and it was the type of course that Coco loves (although I think Coco loves every cross country course if I am being totally honest). I went out with purpose and made up so much time I could just let him cruise home, which he did! You can see the video compilation by Clicking Here. I have also got his cross country from An Eventful Life which can be seen here. Unfortunately the cross country was relatively straightforwards so he finished 7th but I couldn't be more proud and what a fantastic way to finish the season with two such incredible horses that try their best for me with everything I ask.
So onto my season review:
Events Started: 22
Events Completed: 19
Oscar: 7 events, 4 placings (1st, 2nd, 4th, 7th) BE90/BE100
Coco: 10 events, 4 placings (4th, 5th, 7th, 9th) (Intermediate/2*/Advanced)
Smarty: 5 events, 3 placings (8th, 10th, 12th).
Average dressage score (National): 31.9
XC Clears: 18/21 (including pulling up when clear at Great Witchingham)
So as you can see it has been a fairly successful season and once I stopped riding Coco for 20 time faults cross country he has started to pick up regular placings.
Oscar started the season very green but quickly made the step up to BE100. He was the first horse I got back on after I broke my collarbone and carried me round Rackham for a win in the BE90 at BCA at my first event back. He was a pleasure to have and together we had so so much fun, from fancy dress to bareback and bridleless riding as well as being such a talented competition horse. He has been sold locally to a family friend who has already won a BE90 at Littleton Manor and helped his Pony Club Team to a win in the show jumping arena, proving what a lovely and talented boy he is. I think there are big things to come from these two in the future and I wish Luke all the luck in the world with him.
Coco continued to prove what a special horse he really is, cruising round Withington Advanced making it feel like nothing before a slightly tired mistake due to a long distance just 2 from home which was so undeserved. However, he came back to then jump clear in every single other cross country run this season, including four 2* and an Advanced where he was placed. His show jumping has been getting more and more consistent, with several clears at 1.20m level and jumping in the main arena at Hickstead and all aged 17. He will continue to work over the winter and his season next year will be dependent on what he is telling us. After all he owes us nothing and I would love for him to be able to continue competing at a lower level for longer than pushing him until he breaks at a higher level!
Smarty only came to the team in August but quickly settled in become a favourite on the yard. Within just two days of picking him up we were at Aston Novice where he jumped clear cross country and just a week later we were at Bicton 1* with a 6 yr old I had first sat on less than two weeks prior, and another fab but steady clear XC. Our next run was Goring Heath Novice where we had time to get to know each other and I let him run and jump for a clear inside the time and his first BE placing for 10th. From here it only got better with placings at both South of England 1* and Bicton 1*, with clear XC rounds inside the time both times. Not bad for a 6 year old and just proving what a fantastic job his breeder and owner Amy George has done so far. We will be very very sad to see him go next week now that Amy has recovered from her injury as I seriously rate him and think he will work his way through the levels with ease. He is such a kind and easy horse but I know that Amy can't wait to start cracking on with prep for next year!
So that's it - who knows what 2017 will bring but for now I am going to enjoy lots of show jumping and can't wait to get baby Joey out to some competitions ready to start his BE career in style next year!
Suddenly the evenings have become noticeably shorter and early mornings have a certain autumnal chill in the air which points towards the time of the year that us eventers hate.. The last event of the season is fast approaching. Final entries are in and the bay boys have just one more event to go. However, before I get too depressed by that thought I have got to fill you all in with the exciting things that have gone on over the last month!
So since I left off, Smarty has run at Goring Novice and South of England CIC* and Coco has just had a run at South of England CIC2*. I hadn't been to Goring in 5 years so it was nice to go back to an event where I have had some of my best placings and great rides. He started off performing a nice, settled test, but there were a couple of mistakes and it was lacking the real 'wow' factor which left us on a score of 34.8. He warmed up amazingly for the show jumping and rolled an unlucky pole coming out of the related distance and then as I came round to the next fence the arena party ran behind it and it just took his attention so he finished with an undeserved 8 faults. We put that behind us and I headed out on to the cross country to enjoy it and get another confidence giving run under our belts. He cruised round, I never had to take a check I just let him run and jump which he did with his ears pricked. He finished 4 seconds inside the time and one of very few to make the time all day which was good enough for 10th place and Smarty's first ever BE placing! You can see the video by Clicking Here.
The boys then had a bit of quiet time whilst we headed off to the Lake District on a family holiday for a week. Mum and Dad, my brother and two of his friends and Rob and I stayed in a cottage very close to Esthwaite Water and a 2 minute walk from Beatrix Potter's house at 'Hill Top'. The location couldn't have been better and my only complaint would be that we weren't there long enough to fit everything in!
Rob, Mum and I climbed Helvellyn via striding edge and during the first hour Rob and I were getting dangerously close to having to carry Mum who was being overdramatic and convinced she wouldn't make it. But with lots of encouragement and positive re-enforcement we stormed it and the reward was definitely the incredible views at the top.. A classic glaciated environment which my inner Geography nerd very much enjoyed! We also headed to Go Ape and the canopy activities. There were 6 different stations and each one finished with a zip wire which was good fun! The weather was incredible and Rob and I ended the week by heading out Ghyll Scrambling which is basically climbing your way along a river, jumping off rocks into pools and generally pretending to be a kid again! I can't recommend the company 'Crags Adventures' enough and Craig who took us was so much fun and really made the experience what it was. Rob and I only did the short version but we can't wait to head back and do 'the big one' which is 4 hours in the water jumping off cliffs several metres high! You can see some pictures at the end of the post.
Whilst we were away Theresa hacked the boys and my cousin Katie schooled Coco a couple of times for me which I think they both rather enjoyed (Katie and Coco that is!). After getting back there was just a week to fit in some practice before South of England, both boys felt on great form and I was excited about the performances I knew they could pull out of the bag if it all went to plan! We started off with Smarty's dressage on the Friday and it was really lovely to have his owner Amy down for the weekend to watch and help! He performed the best test we have done to date for a very respectable 52.5 but a big discrepancy between the judges, however he was in touch and all to play for. On the Saturday it was Coco's turn to do dressage and Amy and I were left to our own devices as mum was taking my brother up to Uni where he has just started a Geography degree (clearly runs in the family!!). He warmed up brilliantly but unfortunately a bit of tension crept in at the beginning of the test. He then settled into it for another respectable score of 54.5 with some of the best quality work we have ever had. Sunday was jumping day and a bright and early start with Smarty jumping just after 8am, luckily we are local. I realised I needed to ride him a bit more forwards in the show jumping as he prefers it like that, stop trying to protect him and let him attack the fences a bit more and do his job. I was rewarded with him rolling a really unlucky pole coming out of the combination, but there were very few clears in a section of 60. Onto the cross country and I knew a quick round would leave us in with a shout. He flew out the start box and never looked back, every combination he was switched on and listening to me and aside from a horrible moment coming out the water where thankfully he jumped me out of trouble, the round was faultless. He is such a bold and scopey horse you do feel that you could aim him at anything and he would give it a really good go! He was the first horse of the day to go inside the time and by the end of the class, just 3 more had managed to finish inside the time. All this and he is barefoot, which is how he came to us, he very rarely slips and happily hacks on roads and bridleways without any problem at all. He finished 12th out of a big and competitive field and it is so hard to believe he is just 6 years old. The video edit I have made can be seen by clicking here. I also bought the video of his cross country round from An Eventful Life which can be seen here: https://www.an-eventful-life.com.au/ride/georgina-wood-touch-optimistik-south-england-2016-2
Once Smarty had finished Amy and I stayed at South of England whilst Mum drove the lorry home to swap him for Coco as we didn't want them both standing on the lorry all day as it wouldn't benefit either of them. Coco was not jumping as well as he can do in the warm up as he was a bit tense, but as soon as he walked into the ring and saw everyone watching it was like he took a deep breath and went 'these people are here to see me and I am going to show off'. He absolutely flew round for a great clear which moved us up the leader-board considerably. I went out to attack the cross country and see how much further we could move up with a quick clear round. He was absolutely flying and making good time when we were held just before fence 10 due to a fall further round on the course. On this occasion it definitely worked in our favour as Coco got five minutes to get his breath back about half way round the course. I made sure he was awake before we restarted and we continued where we had left off. I crossed the finish line with the biggest grin on my face at how lucky I am to ride two unbelievably talented horses who give everything and bring me home safe. Coco finished with just 4.8 time faults, 4th fastest and only one horse made the time which was Chris Burton on Adelaide winner TS Jamaimo so not too bad. Not only this but we had pulled right up to finish 5th and receive the award for the highest placed South East Eventers League combination in the 2* which was so so exciting. Coco's video can be seen by clicking here. We also bought the video of his cross country round which you can watch here: https://www.an-eventful-life.com.au/ride/georgina-wood-sjapo-le-sursaut-south-england-2016-2
There was yet more excitement as we had a new arrival to the team just before South of England. A 5 yr old Irish pony that Mum and Dad have bought for me from Rapkyns. He was bred on the farm that we picked him up from and he had never left the farm before we picked him up to bring him home. Yet he is so laid back and is one of the kindest horses I have ever had the pleasure of riding and caring for. He learns unbelievably quickly and just wants to please. We have taken him over to Littleton to have a jump with Ernest where he excelled himself and proved what a lovely temperament he has so I have got big plans for him.
We also said a very sad good bye to Oscar this month. He will be very sorely missed both to ride and to have on the yard. He was a seriously special horse who really turned his hoof to absolutely everything and I wish his new owners all the luck in the world with him. A huge thank you to his owner Peter for allowing me to produce him for the past year as I have loved every minute of it.
It must be some sort of record too because I have managed to write my blog within a month of writing the last one.. This is what happens when your boyfriend goes back to Uni and you find yourself with free time in the evening that you didn't have before! So the next blog will be my seasons summary but if I can have a run at Aldon anything like that of South of England then I will be extremely happy!
I know I say this almost every time I write a blog, but seriously.. We are now in September and I have graduated from University and starting to come face to face with real life. Well I would be if it wasn’t for the fact I am undertaking the optimum level of real life avoidance and playing ponies all day every day!
I left off before we were heading to Great Witchingham where the two bay boys were running. We had a great day with Oscar performing a super test in revolting conditions for 25 then just added an unlucky pole and a faultless clear cross country to finish 2nd in the BE100 Open. You can see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8VmZqBp0jw
Meanwhile Coco was rather overexcited to be back out eventing so performed an enthusiastic test for 32.5 (somehow!) then an unlucky pole SJ before storming round the cross country to fence 16 where I pulled him up to save him for Barbury 2* the following weekend. His photo is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FN9Uv6JCwEI
Onto Barbury and I was so excited to still get there as it has to be one of my favourite events with such an amazing atmosphere. The disadvantage being that the atmosphere slightly got to him in an already harshly marking section to score 59.5. However we put that behind us and went into the show jumping full of confidence to perform our best, he jumped a brilliant round and was so unlucky to roll the last fence but I was pleased with how he jumped. Cross country he was awesome, we had definitely put our blip at Withington well and truly behind us and he just cruised round, eating up all the combinations with his ears tightly pricked at all times, I never asked him to gallop so we finished 20 seconds over the time for 8 time faults. You can see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELhmusZ0syc
The following week it was time for my graduation, it was an amazing day with the obligatory pictures but I am so glad I went and got to spend the day with two of my closest friends Morganne and Dan and I would never have got through my degree without them. You can see the pictures in the album at the bottom of this post!
The next event was Eridge with Oscar in the BE100. He pulled out another great test for 26 – Mr Consistent. The ground in the show jumping was a bit false and holding and it just made him lose the shape of his jump and his confidence a bit so he had four down which was a real shame as he didn’t deserve it. The cross country start at Eridge is not very friendly and he started off lacking a bit of confidence but by fence 4 he was on the job and jumped a lovely clear. I just let him take his time and build his confidence so he picked up 7.2 time but the course and show jumping caused so much trouble he still finished 13th!
I then had a week teaching at The Vine Pony Club Camp which was brilliant fun. They were a fantastic bunch of kids who improved so much over the week and it was a pleasure to get to know them and their super ponies. I took Oscar with me for the experience and he even played a bit of polocrosse whilst we were there, which we both thought was great fun! Mum had been lunging Coco in the equi-ami all week whilst I was away which allowed me to get back and head to Hickstead on the Saturday for the 1.20m and 1.30m. He jumped an awesome double clear in the 1.20m to finish 8th out of 90, then just rolled a couple in the 1.30m but tried hard. You can see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oh6UO7yaJ2s. I feel the equi-ami made a massive difference in Coco’s core strength, particularly in the canter and definitely helped him to jump as well as he did at Hickstead.
However the following week the news came through that everyone had been dreading. That the inspirational Hannah Francis had lost her battle with cancer. She was so strong and so brave and she fought until the end, but her legacy will live on in what she has created with he charity, Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony and you can find out more and donate money here: https://www.willberrywonderpony.org/
Our next outing was with Coco to Pyecombe to jump the 1.20m derby. It was an amazing course which ran out the arena and all the way up a steep hill and over a fence on the top of a bank, it really was a mini derby. Coco jumped brilliantly and there were only 3 clears. He would have been one of them if it hadn’t been for the slight miscommunication at a rustic oxer jumping out of the arena, he was making up a lot of ground so I took a strong half halt and I think he suddenly thought it was the fence round the arena and he shouldn’t jump it, so he stopped in front of it! I was cross with myself but I never expected it and I was so delighted with how he jumped so just one of those things! Here is the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCDH3ygSU8M
Oscar then headed to Smiths Lawn BE100 for his next run, and another lovely test for 27.5, just one down show jumping in a tight arena that wouldn’t naturally suit him. The an amazing clear cross country well inside the time for 4th. He should have been in the Novice the way he jumped round as he was so bold and so straight. I never had to even put my leg on, he just cruised round! The video of Oscar is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1lIoM4kK0o
I then had some very very exciting news and got to pick up a lovely new horse that I have got until the end of the season. He is known as Smarty to his friends and is bred and owned by Amy George, she had a really unlucky fall and broke her leg and so I offered to take on Smarty for the rest of the season. He is 6 and absolutely gorgeous and I am very very lucky to ride such a talented horse that loves his job. Just 3 days after picking him up we headed to Aston Novice where he did a nice dressage with a few mistakes through miscommunication and a similar story in the jumping where we had a couple down because we were not used to each other. But then he gave me an awesome ride round the cross country for a steady clear. Here is the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zywbkPiux_U
Just over a week later we took him to Bicton where he was entered in the 1*. He tried hard in the dressage and I was a bit disappointed with the score but we had a couple of mistakes which brought the mark down. Then we were a little over keen in the showjumping which meant he rolled three but made up for it with a super clear round a tough 1* track, taking all the direct routes. The video can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjwcJ8IDi0w
Coco also went to Aston and Bicton but for the Intermediate and 2* respectively. At Aston, Coco could see the cross country and just about held it together in the dressage for 34.8. The show jumping was causing a lot of trouble, but not for Coco who flew round for a brilliant clear. I went out on the cross country determined and aiming to make the time. We had a couple of iffy moments where Coco was definitely right and I was definitely wrong but luckily he is so clever he just ignores me and does the right thing. We finished just 2 seconds over the time which was good enough for 4th! Here is the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5djtMtrGKQ
At Bicton, I was pleased with the test although mum felt the canter could have been more connected. I was really disappointed with his mark of 58 but when we got the sheets back there was 9% difference in the marks with 65% from one judge (which I would say is about right) and 56% from the other which was a shame. He was then ridiculously over excited in the show jumping and decided the point was to complete as quickly as possible which meant finding out how quickly he could get his feet back on the floor after taking off which was not ideal. He had two of the first four fences down and then settled and jumped a beautiful clear! We couldn’t decided whether to run cross country but the course was lovely and the ground fantastic so we thought we might as well. I ran him steady but he loved in and finished with 20 time faults which was still good enough for a top 50% finish! Here is the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEtDudq9ebo
We made a last minute change of plan and took Coco to Wellington Advanced on bank holiday Monday. We had heard fantastic reports on the ground and we were on a bit of a roll so went and had a look at the course, liked the look of it and managed to get a slot where someone had withdrawn. He did a nice dressage with a couple of big mistakes for a respectable 35.9. He warmed up beautifully for the show jumping but I think he just tensed up a bit in the ring for an uncharacteristic 4 down which was a shame as he has been jumping so well, but I put it behind me and knew that it was the cross country I was there for. He gave me an incredible ride and didn’t make it feel like an advanced at all, he just popped round all the direct routes and answered every question. We had 20 time faults but still finished 9th. You can see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vggbz1q7N0k&feature=youtu.be
As if the week hadn’t been exciting enough, we then headed to Hickstead on the Friday for the 1.20m amateur qualifier where he jumped a super double clear for 4th out of 72 and qualified to jump in the main arena on the Saturday. I was really excited to jump in the main ring and there is no better horse to go in to the main arena at Hickstead on than Coco as he is so bold and will always keep going. He had 3 down, all of which I could have prevented by riding better lines, but the main arena is so big it was very easy to cut corners and not ride the lines you would normally ride. We will both have benefitted massively for the experience and can’t wait to go back and have another go!!
So 1,824 words later you are up to date with the last two months of excitement. It is a small essay and I think I have written fewer words for some of my marked coursework during my university career!!
I promise promise promise I really will not leave it so long next time, but I am sure that has been said before. Coco evented three weekends running and then jumped two days at Hickstead the following weekend and is still buzzing and full of energy. So if anyone is worried that Simple System Feeds won’t provide the needed energy to compete regularly at a high level, this is a case in showing that is not an issue. He looks so fit, his coat is gleaming and he is feeling better than ever.
We have got just three events planned for the rest of the season, Coco and Smarty are going to South of England for the 2* and 1* respectively. Then Smarty will head to Broadway Novice before both boys finish their season at Aldon, again for the 2* and 1*. Smarty will then head home to Amy who is recovering well ready to get a winters training in for next season. Coco will have a quiet month of hacking and less competing before being picked back up again as I feel with an older horse it is important for him not to lose too much fitness as it is then harder for them to pick back up again!
So a month on from finishing my three years at University and I have found out that I will be graduating with a 2:1 degree in BSc Geography from Royal Holloway University of London. To have been able to continue to ride and compete as much as I have alongside a degree has not been easy, but it has been made possible by the awesome support team at home (aka Mum) and everyone at Uni including my lecturers and tutors who have been so understanding of my commitments, to the University's sports bursary programme who have provided invaluable back up and opportunities which never would have occurred otherwise. Also my friends from uni who have embraced my madness, collected lecture notes from lectures I have missed and helped me with my work - this grade is a reflection of everything, not just what I have put in.
So back to the horses and safe to say my enforced rest has done my horses the world of good! Jenny took over competing Oscar whilst I was off and jumped some lovely rounds out show jumping. She gave him a lovely ride every time and he learnt a lot as a result. You can see a compilation video of their rounds by Clicking Here.
Coco spent two weeks down in Sussex at Equine Aqua Training which has a water treadmill and I have no doubt this contributed to his recovery and to come out of our fall as well as he has. Just 3 weeks post break I was given the all clear by the Doctor to get back on (provided I didn't fall off). I was back riding the next day and back in the gym later that week. My aim was to be back eventing for Berkshire College of Agriculture on the 12th June so that gave me 2.5 weeks to get going. The weekend of the 4th/5th June I took Coco and Oscar show jumping, immediately getting in to my stride with Coco jumping a fantastic double clear in the Newcomers for 2nd and then an unlucky pole in the jump off of the fox, you can see his rounds by Clicking Here. Oscar jumped a lovely round in both the British Novice and Discovery having a silly pole early on in both rounds but jumping the bigger jump off fences much better, you can see his video by Clicking Here. We then headed off cross country schooling later that week with both bay boys. Oscar was like an old pro, popping round all the fences he had never seen at Parwood including jumping off the steps into water. Coco is like putting a comfy pair of slippers on and if he remembers the fall it hasn't bothered him, he flew round feeling confident and happy which was such a relief!
Having been signed off by the Doctor as fit to compete with BE, it was all systems go for BCA with Oscar who was just entered for the 90 as the last time he evented was March. Mum was now in Australia so it was time for me to go at it alone, luckily a good friend of mine was able to come for moral support. Oscar was a superstar, a good dressage for 26.3 followed by a faultless double clear and inside the time to WIN his section by a huge 8 penalties. Safe to say we nailed the comeback and it was quite emotional!You can see the video by Clicking Here. I can't thank his owner Peter Greenaway enough for allowing me to produce his lovely horse and to everyone who has put the work into him to make him the horse he is, who tries his best and always wants to please.
However, there was no time to rest as the following weekend we were stepping up to BE100 again at Rackham, but not before we went to Felbridge for some show jumping practice. Oscar jumped two lovely rounds, including making the step up to Newcomers easily, the bigger the fences get the better he jumps! Coco also jumped well in the foxhunter, just rolling the last fence in the jump off which was a shame.
Rackham was a big step up in the jumping phases for an inexperienced horse. I realised that poor Oscar had only ever jumped on grass twice before Rackham and the SJ is renowned for being tough. He ended up with 3 down which is not a true reflection of his talent or desire to leave the fences up. I was a bit gutted as I felt I had let him down and he had done an awesome dressage for 24.5. However, putting that behind us and knowing the XC time was tight, I headed out of the start box meaning business. Oscar responded and stormed round without a moments hesitation. He loves his cross country, he jumps out the start box with his ears pricked and never looks back! Unfortunately no videos as I was there on my own so no one to film it!
This week was another busy one with Coco entered at Hickstead jumping on Wednesday and Thursday before Farley on Saturday. He jumped amazingly round a tough Foxhunter on Wednesday for a double clear and finished 21st out of 130 horses which wasn't bad going. Unfortunately when we headed back on Thursday, heavy overnight rain had made the ground quite wet and Coco is too special to risk when he doesn't need to be jumped so I took him home again. Then Farley had to cancel their event as the river burst its banks and flooded the cross country. I am gutted for them as they had invested so much in the track and the venue, I was so excited about heading back and you wouldn't think flooding would be an issue at the end of June! So now poor Coco hasn't had a run since his fall and he is entered at Barbury 2* in two weeks time, so a late entry at Great Witchingham next weekend and him and Oscar are heading to Norfolk for the Intermediate and BE100 respectively!
Oscar is now out a lot more, so he has come off the purabeet and is just having Greengold and Total Eclipse whilst being target fed Red Grass Nuts for energy leading up to the events, they are great as they just give him a bit of spark but without making him sharp or naughty.
Coco is still having purabeet and topnosh as well as greengold to maintain condition whilst he is in a lot of work and cantering regularly. He also has Red Grass Nuts in the lead up to a competition. They are looking great, their coats are shiny and they are certainly feeling very well in themselves!
Hopefully Coco will have got to go eventing in my next blog - but with this mad English summer, anything could happen!
I can't believe we are already in the latter half of May and the last time I managed to publish a blog was the beginning of February! This year has been manic leading to the conclusion that there needs to be more hours in the day, or more days in the week (or both) so it becomes possible to fit everything in and still sleep!
Since my last blog we have had a successful start to the event season with Oscar stepping up to his new title of 'event horse' jumping double clear round Swallcliffe 90 and confidently completing his first BE100 at Munstead the week afterwards. Unfortunately since then we haven't had the best luck with events being cancelled during April and my exams starting at the beginning of May. I had aimed to be at Tweseldown last weekend with Oscar but unfortunately two days before the start of my finals I had a fall with Coco at Withington and ended up with a broken collarbone! Three weeks later and I am well on the mend and about to start riding again, however not ready to be eventing just yet!! Oscar is currently being kept fit by Mum whilst Jenny has very kindly stepped in as co-jockey to keep him jumping and competing. They have had successful outings to both Felbridge and Parwood over the last couple of weeks with Oscar showing his true versatility and suitability as an amateurs horse. He is so genuine and happy to help you out if you don't quite get it right! He is advertised at the moment and I really can't believe he hasn't been snatched up as he is worth his weight in gold with the temperament and ability that he has - wish we could win the lottery and keep him as a family horse as he really is good for everyone!!
Coco started off his season in fine style at Aldon Intermediate, an over exuberant dressage followed by an unlucky 8 faults showjumping and an awesome clear cross country in cruise control! However, following that everything we entered was cancelled or we couldn't risk the ground when it did run as he is too special! So after a bit of show jumping (including jumping our first 1.35m Open together) we headed to Withington Advanced. I was so proud of him in the dressage, he stayed calm and relaxed and we did an accurate test, even managing our flying changes which I was delighted with. I was disappointed in the mark we got of 41 as it was not a reflection of how hard he tried. Onto the show jumping and he wasn't enjoying the hectic warm up so I decided not to keep jumping him and just go in, if he felt unsure or not himself then I was going to pull him up. I needn't have worried as he went in and tried his heart out. It was a technical course with some very clever lines, he had an unlucky pole early on and then we had a flier to the fence before the combination meaning we came in a little quick so he rolled the back rail of the middle element, but he was great. On to the cross country and it was a tough track but I knew we could do it. Out of the start box and over the first 9 really well, making nothing of the first two combinations. Fence 10 was a wide table on an attacking 4 stride curve to a wide corner at 10b followed by another positive curving 4 strides to another corner at 11, this was the only fence I was really worried about and knew if he jumped that we would be fine! Well you would have thought it was grid work in the school as he said 'this is easy mum' as he flew all three elements! He continued to make nothing of the course, just popping any big, wide fence like it was a novice track all with his ears pricked. Unfortunately two fences from home we had a nasty fall which he did not deserve. We jumped into the water well and there was a curving line to a double of skinnies coming out which were built on a very long two strides. He didn't lock onto the first one early enough and as a result was unbalanced as he jumped it, I committed to the two strides but he was too far off the 2nd part, instead of him just nipping past it, he is so genuine he tried his best to fit in a third stride and jump it but caught a knee and twisted. This caused me to lose my balance and although he got his front feet down, I had pulled my right rein and the camber of the ground caused him to come down. I was trapped underneath him briefly and he knew it so lay completely still to allow me to get out. Luckily (or maybe not!) it happened at mums feet and she was the first one to us so she pulled me out whilst the vets attended Coco. They kept him down till the screens went up but I have never been so relieved to see him up and ok. He was a little stiff for a few days afterwards but is now fine and feeling very jolly.
Unfortunately I hit the ground shoulder first and although my Point 2 did an amazing job of protecting me when he rolled over me, my collar bone absorbed the impact from my shoulder and therefore it broke! Once Coco had been checked over by the vet, mum took him home and I waited in the ambulance at the event for Rob (my boyfriend) to come and rescue me and take me to A&E. I was very grateful as it meant that mum could get Coco home and comfortable which was my main priority. So after a trip to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and several hours waiting I was sent home with a broken collar bone! Since then I have had the arcequine on nearly 24/7 and I have been lasering it too. It is feeling really good and after just one week I no longer had any pain. The first week it was sore and very difficult to concentrate on both my exams and the revision, so I am hoping it wont have affected my grades too much!
So three weeks later and 6 exams down I have finished my Geography degree at Royal Holloway and I am off for a follow up x-ray to see whether I am going to be allowed to get back on and riding! Although I will be back on this week and am entered up for BCA on Oscar, Nunney IN on Coco and also the Hickstead Derby meeting with Coco so I am keeping positive! The aim is to get to Barbury CIC2* and then Aston Advanced so I can prove how lucky I am to have such a fantastic horse and that we are capable!
Coco has been down at Equine Aqua Training keeping fit on the treadmill so he will be ready to crack on as soon as I am back on board!
I can't thank everyone enough for their kind words, advice and help over the past few weeks. There are too many to mention everyone but huge thanks to Mum (as ever) who has had to fit in twice as much to an already busy schedule, and Jenny who has been coming back from London to keep Oscar going. To Oscar's owner Peter Greenaway who has been so understanding whilst I have been injured. Also to Nathalie George and Laura Wijsmuller who have enabled me to sit my exams by driving me into uni and picking me up when I needed it, I can;t thank you enough! Finally to my long-suffering boyfriend who has had to put up with me being fairly horrible and sulking whilst I couldn't ride and even came home to see me this weekend to celebrate finishing my exams despite the fact his don't start until next week!
The horses are looking fantastic and this is where I am so lucky to have the support team behind me. With the spring grass having come through, Oscar is on less topnosh as it is no longer needed, whilst Coco has been on increased levels of Linseed to help his recovery.
Lily started off the year in fine style, and was back jumping better than ever, she was placed in a tough 1.05m at Addington and jumped double clear in the newcomers. She also qualified for the JAS final where she finished 5th having only been out twice prior to the final. Unfortunately she is now injured (again!) and what is most frustrating is we think she did it being silly in the field (again). So she is currently turned out without her shoes on with a little friend for company to give her a chance to recover and I will aim to get her back fit for the autumn with the aim to show jump her and have some fun through the winter - watch this space!
Now I have finished uni I have a lot more time on my hands so hoping to start doing lots of teaching over the summer. If anyone needs their horses exercising I will be back riding properly at the beginning of June and happy to help out schooling/jumping or even just keeping them exercised. If you know of anyone looking for a rider in Surrey then please put them in touch!!
Until next time!