Hello everyone, and welcome to my first Pol Roger Bursary blog post! I will start by introducing myself: my name is Zoë and I am a 22 year old, final year Economics student at the University of Edinburgh. But more importantly, I am an aspiring eventer!

I own and compete my horse, Rafnae, currently at Novice, and am looking to move up to 1* level this year (eek). We bought Raf as a 5 year old when I was at school, as I sadly outgrew my pony. We started doing BE80 and have since progressed through the levels. My Mum and sister also have horses, Ramble and Buttons. Ramble is a 17hh Cleveland Bay gentle giant who will turn his hand to anything. He has done a bit of everything in his life and I occasionally take him to do some dressage or show jumping. Buttons is a cheeky welsh section D who my sister takes show jumping (he hates dressage!). My main trainer is my Mum, Zane, who has been riding her whole life. I am extremely lucky that Mum looks after Raf for me when I am away at Uni, and is then head groom/trainer/therapist/life coach throughout the event season!

It was a total shock to receive the email from Champagne Pol Roger, congratulating me on being awarded the bursary. I had just finished riding Raf, checked my emails and there it was in my inbox.  I gave it a quick skim read then began ringing every family member! That evening we opened a bottle of champagne at home (Pol Roger of course) and celebrated the news.

Since then, I have been down to meet the Pol Roger team in London. It was a fantastic day discussing the plans for the year, and meeting with a few of the people who will be helping along the way, including Victoria Jenner from Stitched Equestrian. The next engagement will be heading to Gatcombe International in the spring with the Pol Roger team, which I am very much looking forward to. It will be nice to enjoy the event without the pressure of competing! Raf and I are aiming to do the 1* there in September.

So far this year, there has been little horsing around sadly. Being in my final year of University means spending long days in the library as opposed to on the yard. Nevertheless, we have big plans for the year ahead. I will be heading home a few times over the next couple of months to ride, and do some pre season show jumping and dressage. We are aiming to do the 100 at Ascott-Under-Wychwood as our first event of the season in the middle of April. Then depending on my exam timetable, I will try and squeeze in the Novice at Whitfield, or Broadway at the end of April/beginning of May. If you are at these events, come and say hello!! I can always be found at an event wondering round with our little Jack Russell, Jasper, buying a snack, or trying to convince Mum that the jumps aren’t that big!

I am looking forward to sharing my 2018 journey with those of you who wish to follow it! I am extremely grateful to Pol Roger for providing me with this bursary, and hope to achieve my goals with their help this season. I will keep you updated with the highs, and inevitable lows of the season ahead!

Zoë x

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