Well where to begin! So much has been going on since my last update that I haven't had time to write a new blog, so apologies in advance if this rambles on for what seems like forever!
The Paralympics seems a sensible starting point, although I'm gutted it has now finished and London 2012 really has been and gone. But what a spectacle we put on, I think I am right in saying that it has exceeded all expectations.
What an inspiration the Paralympians were. I think it is fantastic that the general public have finally got to see how truly amazing these athletes are. I was lucky enough to get to visit The Paralympic Village thanks to Lee Frawley who did herself proud with her horse Rhapsody whilst representing the US Virgin Islands. Mum, Dad and I also went to the closing ceremony and I was even lucky enough to be included in the invitation to Team GB house first where all the Gold Medal winning Paralympians were having a photo with their medals. I had a lovely chat with Sophie Christiansen about Royal Holloway and what it was like which was really helpful. I also met Aled Davies, the Discus Gold and Shot Putt Bronze medalist. Mum nearly had a heart attack as Tony Hadley (I know I didn't know who he was.. Apparently the lead singer from Spandau Ballet [look it up if you don't know]) sang Gold with all the Gold medallists behind him, and I have to say it was incredible. The closing ceremony was also fantastic so bring on Rio 2016 is all I can say! I did feel genuinely lost when there was no longer any sport to watch on the tv from London 2012. Then the football season restarted and I felt even worse!
Anyway back to the horses who I have to say (touch wood) have been going great guns! So I am hoping this season will end with a bang! On the 5th of September I took, and passed my Pony Club AH exam. It was an exhausting day but in a weird way was quite enjoyable. My only really dodgey area was my lunging but that was a border pass.. Onwards and upwards to my riding now and if anyone has any tips or advice for my pony club A test please get in touch!
On friday the 7th of September we headed to Blenhiem for the Pony Club Eventers Challenge. Ozzie hadn't quite come right in time so we took Punch instead! I have to say he flew, one of the best rounds we have ever jumped together and he made it feel so easy. He was one of very few clear rounds, as a result we finished 3rd in the style competition out of around 140 competitors. The team was just a bit unlucky and finished on a total of 8 faults which was just outside the placings. However an enjoyable day had by all.
On the 15th of September we headed to Pycombe for some affiliated show jumping with Punch and Coco. Punch took exception to one of the fences in the 90 Amatuer 2nd round but after a sharp reminder of what his job was he flew round. I then jumped both Punch and Coco in the 1 meter Amatuer first round. They both jumped beautifully to finish 4th and 5th respectively.
On the Sunday it was Lilys turn at Munstead BE90. I have to say she was feeling incredible. A huge thanks to Simple System for helping us to sort her feeding out appropriately as she feels a different horse now that she is a bit fitter and her diet is suitable. She did a 30.5 dressage, and a thoroughly deserved mark too, she went really really well. A minor strop at the pole pickers chairs in the arena lead to a silly fence down in the show jumping ( she is definitely ready to move up a level in terms of the show jumping) but a beautiful clear inside the time cross country left us fifth so I was really pleased with her. She felt like a different horse on the cross country, I think she is finally getting it so hopefully we can crack on now and really get going. Especially if we can go show jumping and jump some bigger tracks this winter.
Next up was South of England Novice with Coco, in attempts to get our 2nd Novice clear cross country so that we could go to Aldon CIC*. His dressage was so much better, it was much more engaged and as a result he was more rideable. I think that has come from us starting to build a real partnership so he trusts me more. Show jumping, he jumped really well and just had 2 fences down which was a shame. One he barely touched, and the other I think he just took his eye off slightly. But he jumped really well so I wasn't too disappointed. Cross country was causing a lot of trouble, and as a result was running really late. I started panicking that I wasn't going to get to run, but thankfully due to the efficiency of the starting team they managed to get everyone round, so a huge thanks to them. Apart from a sticky moment coming out of the water at fence 3 and then having to take the long route a couple of fences later due to him being a bit worried he flew round. He gives me so much confidence and makes it feel so easy, I feel very lucky to have such a lovely horse to ride.
On the Sunday after South of England we thought we would go to Pachesham unaffiliated dressage to practice. Mum rode Lily and did really well getting over 71% in the Prelim and 63% in the novice. Considering the weather and the lack of warm up for the Novice test, it was a great result. The weather was foul, horizontal freezing cold rain is unpleasant at the best of times, however practice makes perfect (I tell myself anyway!) Punch was also really good and won one test on 66% and was 2nd in the other on 64%. I also took Ozzie along to the party as he was feeling left out! I wasn't holding out much hope as I had the wrong bit and 10 minutes warm up. But to prove how far his dressage has come (Thank you so much Tracey) he got 66% and won the class - he even got a 9! I love my mad little grey pony!
On the Tuesday it was Lilys turn again, this time at BCA. With her all sorted in the dressage by mum I went feeling positive that we could perform to our best, and we did. A 24.5 dressage, she did go really fantastically (thank you mum, you can ride her again!) A rather energetic but clear show jumping round meant that it was game on cross country provided I could stay on in the warm up! Well I managed to and as soon as we came out the start her mind was totally on the job in hand. She popped round so well I dont think I could have made her stop to be perfectly honest! The result of it all was that she WON! I am so pleased that my hard work has finally payed off and I feel set up and ready to tackle the BE100 with her at Coombelands on Friday!
Then on Saturday we were off to Dauntsey with Punch, for his BE100 regional final. Third time lucky I kept telling myself. To say the day was stressful was an understatement. He did a fantastic test, and I felt that it was one of the best tests I had ever ridden on him. After the dressage we then had a nervewracking wait before the show jumping. Some of the time was used up walking the cross country, the rest of the time I used to make myself as nervous as possible as we decided it was best if we hadn't seen the dressage marks!! Then it was show jumping time. The warm up was really deep and Punch was hating it, even touching fences which he never does. So more nervous than ever I went into the ring. Well he jumped his heart out, if there were marks for trying, Punch would win every time. The ground was sticky, so what did he do, jump a good 3 inches bigger! So a clear round it was, and I have never been so relieved as my dressage mark was 32. This was in 5th after the dressage, so I knew a clear inside the time would stand us with half a chance of qualifying!
He flew round making nothing of it, he is such a pleasure to ride cross country as he has such an easy rhythm and jumps out of it. It is a really lovely feeling being able to trust a horse to jump from anywhere sensible. So a clear inside the time it was, and then for the nervous wait.
One person had 2 time faults and dropped behind us, but a girl finished 0.7 in front of my score and was read out as 3rd, making me 4th. We weren't sure if it was 3 or 4 that would qualify. However my hopes were quickly dashed when it was the top 20% of 15 starters, meaning it was exactly 3. I was so disappointed as it is really my last chance at Grassroots, because if I do step Coco up to intermediate next year, that would be it. However we then had a call from a friend to say one of the people read out before me had actually had a stop, and that she thought I was 3rd. So after a nervous wait it was confirmed that I was 3rd!! I am sooo sooo pleased as Punch really deserves it, he is so consistent. So as long as we can keep him in one piece we will be heading to Badminton next spring, and our biggest aim.. To enjoy the experience! It will also I'm sure, inspire me to ride in the 4* there even more than I already want to!! I can't wait!!
Anyway - I think that is enough of my ramblings and just three events left now *sob* - the season feels like it hasn't even started. So Pulborough on Friday, Larkhill on Sunday 14th and Aldon the weekend of the 19th/20th! So this is it, and a round up and an update at the end!
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More to come soon and sorry for the endless ramblings