Hi, I’m Sophie Jenman and this year I will be competing at my first Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (I can still hardly believe it!). I’ll be Horse & Hound’s guest blogger up to and during the event.

Let me introduce you to my horse Geronimo (aka Al, pictured top at Burghley last year). He is a 17.2hh 12-year-old by Animo. He lives up to Animo’s reputation of being quirky and sharp, but also extremely talented. He was breed to showjump and he excels in that area. The dressage he finds a little more tricky…

Sophie riding Geronimo in the dressage at Burghley 2013

Sophie riding Geronimo in the dressage at Burghley 2013

Al came to the family as a rising 5-year-old for my mother, Kay, who competed him up to novice level. At the time I was riding a 16hh mare, who unfortunately needed 3 months off, so I borrowed Al just to tide me over for a little while… 3 months has turned into 5 years, and what a great 5 years they have been. I had to learn a lot to get the best out of such a big powerful horse, but now we have an amazing partnership and really understand each other well.

In 2011 we were selected for the Young Rider Europeans and went to Blair Castle finishing 24th. I thought the course was testing, but Al thought it was really rather easy! So in 2012 we were determined to move up to 3-star level, starting at Belton. Once again Al let us know what an awesome jumper he was with a double clear.

Jumping into the water at Bramham Horse Trials 2012

This set us up nicely for Bramham (pictured above), where we were 14th, before heading off to Blair Castle. At last we managed to get a dressage score in the 50’s! The cross-country course was seriously testing and many didn’t complete, but it was another clear round for Al finishing 7th. We came home knowing we had a potential 4-star horse and we were so looking forward to 2013!

At the start of 2013 I was very excited to send off my Badminton entry, but then came the disappointment of finding myself 20th on the wait list. Checking the list daily, I got as far as next but one to go, but it wasn’t to be. It was very frustrating to have a horse like Al fit and ready to go, only to realise it wasn’t going to happen. So we switched to Plan B and it was back to Bramham for 7th place. This was great news as it gave us lots of lovely FEI points.

The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials was such an experience; it lived up to all my expectations — the crowd, the atmosphere, but especially the cross-country, made it a very memorable first 4-star.

Sophie and Geronimo clear the planet fence on the cross-country at Burghley

Sophie and Geronimo clear the planet fence on the cross-country at Burghley

It’s such a relief not to be on the wait list this year for Badminton, so now it’s all systems go for the build-up to the great event. Next week I’ll tell you a little more about myself, so I hope you’ll enjoy following my Badminton journey through my H&H blog.

Sophie