Hello everyone, and welcome to my latest blog post – sorry its been a little while! Since finishing at Edinburgh, I have been working as a summer intern at Blenheim Palace Horse Trials, which has been absolutely amazing. I have to admit, I was worried at first that I had taken a job too close to finishing university, and I would struggle to enjoy my summer eventing. I have however, managed to find a good routine that means I can still ride everyday, work, eat, occasionally socialise, and on the odd occasion, sleep.
Raf and I had a great run at Chepstow a few weeks ago. It was our first time visiting the venue and it was absolutely fantastic. I cannot thank the whole team there enough for putting on a beautiful event, and preparing the ground so brilliantly during the especially dry spell we have been having. Raf was slightly exuberant in the dressage, but overall I felt did a very pleasing test, which I was very happy with. In the show jumping, we had two unlucky poles down, but the overall feel of the round was much improved on others we have had in the past! On to the cross country (the best bit!)… The course was hilly and twisty, with myself actually getting lost a few times when walking it! However, this sort of course really suits Raf, so I was excited to get under way. Raf made absolutely nothing of it and flew round, pulling like a train the entire time. We ended up finishing 16thin a section of approximately 40 people, which is definitely our best placing at Novice level so far.
Next on the agenda was the Novice at Aston Le Walls. It is safe to say this wasn’t our best day out and I could easily not write about it. However, all of us who are involved in eventing or any sport really, know that our lovely horses are not machines, and some days (just like humans), they have an off day. After weeks of 30-degree heat, the heavens well and truly opened for Aston. Good for the ground, not good for competitors who have just made it to the collecting ring in just their stock shirt, and left their jacket on the lorry! After jumping like a stag in the warm up, it was our time to shine in the arena. The first half of the course went brilliantly. Raf maintained a lovely rhythm and so far we were clear. As we approached a double towards the end of the course, I felt Raf well and truly back off, which isn’t like her at all. I represented to no avail, and it was safe to say Raf didn’t fancy finishing the show jumping that day! An unfortunate and frustrating elimination, but we live to fight another day. After days like that, as a one-horse rider, I do find it hard to stop myself from dwelling on it. I try not to let it fester, but I do like to assess why it happened, and where I can go from there to prevent it from happening again. I decided it would be good for Raf to have a really fun, confidence boosting few days out. One of these days was a fun ride at the Cotswold Farm Park with my Mum and sister, which was brilliant, and meant we could have a good gallop. Another was a combined training competition. I decided to take a few steps back, so we simply did the 95cm class. In complete contrast to our day at Aston, we ended up with a red rosette! Raf did her best ever dressage test to date for a score of 26, with lovely comments from the judge. She then jumped an easy clear round to finish of her dressage score and win the section. This was the perfect result, and was exactly the kind of day I wanted both Raf and myself to have to get us back on our feet.
I recently went to The Festival of British Eventing as it is right on my doorstep, living in Gloucestershire. Pol Roger had a fabulous lodge set up, with unsurpassed views of the main arena, and of course, copious amounts of Champagne… I was lucky enough to join in the Lucinda Green course walk that was taking place, organised by Pol Roger. This was the first time I had met Lucinda, and she was just brilliant. She was so willing to talk us through all of the lines of all of the various combinations round the course, and answering all of our questions. We walked the majority of the way round the course, looking at different combinations at different levels, and watched a few horses jump through each part. We even bumped into Pippa Funnell and William Fox-Pitt on the way round – two of my idols!z
Next on the agenda is the Novice at Solihull this weekend. This is one of my favourite venues so fingers crossed for a good run! In a few weeks time I am heading up to Burghley as a spectator where Pol Roger will be serving up more of their delicious champagne. Then before you know it, it will be time for Blenheim and it will be all systems go to pull off a brilliant event, which everyone in the horse trials office have been working so hard for all year! With a very busy eventing calendar lined up over the next few weeks with Blair, Burghley, WEG and Blenheim, I hope everyone will be enjoying eventing their own horses, as much as they will be spectating.