Hello again everyone and welcome to my latest blog!

As mentioned in my previous blog, the Pol Roger Bursary includes master classes with top event riders, who are sponsored by Pol Roger. A few weeks ago, Raf and I were extremely lucky to meet and have a lesson with fellow fizzy rascal, Harry Meade! (swoon).

As with my lesson with Laura Collett, Harry had sussed Raf and myself out within minutes and was busy preparing a course to improve our technique and form. We used a relatively simple course of just five fences, that could each be jumped each way and on different lines. Harry placed a lot of emphasis on the outside rein and its importance throughout the lesson, and was quick to correct me when needed. Throughout the lesson, the fences did not exceed approximately 90cm, and we did absolutely every fence in trot. Harry accentuated the importance of being able to simply trot round the simple course of fences, in a rhythm, on a line and with the correct contact. He also emphasized that I should be interfering as little as possible on the approach to the fence, and should be letting Raf work more of it out for herself. Harry was extremely generous with his time and I left feeling very much inspired and ready to crack on with his all of his useful advice!

Since my second year of University, I have been a member of the Great Britain Student Riding team. I have been to a handful of competitions around Europe and last weekend, I was fortunate enough to be selected to compete in the Student Riders Nations Cup in Romania. The student riding competitions consist of three days of competition, in dressage and show jumping. The first round of dressage is a team test whereby all 3 team members perform the test at the same time! If you think that sounds like carnage, you are correct, as it often is. Unfortunately, I was unable to embrace my inner Charlotte Dujardin and was knocked out in the first round of dressage. The show jumping is then a knock out formant whereby three individuals from each country take it in turn to jump a horse, and the rider with the best style mark out of the three proceeds to the next round. My lessons with Harry and Laura must have paid off as I progressed through the rounds in the show jumping and finished on the podium in bronze medal position! My other teammates did brilliantly and as a result we picked up team 4th overall!

As for many others, the dreaded waitlist threatened to ruin a weekend eventing for us in the middle of May. Last minute, I decided I wasn’t going to squeeze in to Tweseldown, so rang up and pleaded with the Solihull event secretary who very kindly put me in the 100+.  Raf was delighted to be out again, and as a result we added a few extra moves in to our dressage test. My final salute was a combination of the required movement, and bowing my head in embarrassment! However, the judge was very enthusiastic about Raf’s potential, and even got out of her car to compliment her. Just this weekend, we did the Novice at West Wilts and had a fantastic day. The dressage was miles better than at Solihull, with no improvised movements! The SJ was slightly disappointing considering how well Raf has been jumping recently, resulting in 3 down. Nevertheless, I didn’t let this get my spirits down as I headed to the XC start box. Having walked the XC in the morning, I was slightly nervous, as it was by far the biggest and most technical track we would be facing to date. As soon as we left the start box, Raf gave me the most fantastic ride, taking all the tricky combinations in her stride like a complete pro! Despite, in the words of the commentators, making a complete ‘horlix’ of a gigantic ditch palisade at 13, we galloped on to the finish with a big grin on both of our faces and Raf strode back to the lorry as if we had just been on a little hack!

The following weeks will be involved in preparations for our next Novice, which will be at Chepstow at the end of June, and then hopefully Aston Le Walls a few weeks after.

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