So we are coming to the middle of February and we are just about getting ready to head out with the baby ponies for their first show! Working through the snow, rain and mud has been testing at times but we seem to be getting there and I am really excited to be bringing out some nice novice ponies this season.

My 2016 season ended with a bang when Jacob finished reserve champion in the SSADL (Senior Horse Showing and Dressage League) final at Olympia. It was Jacob’s third trip to Olympia and it was amazing to score our best result yet. Luckily the weather held quite well up until the day so Jacob was saved from having endless rugs put on to keep his coat, and my money was also saved as Jacob didn’t trash endless rugs like he usually does.

Me with Jacob at Olympia

On the day, I couldn’t have asked for any more from Jacob, especially as I didn’t feel great. I also managed to leave my in-hand trousers in the lorry which meant a last-minute dash down to the lorry to get changed, much to my mum’s despair. Thankfully we made it in in time and Jacob put his best foot forward.

As they were counting down the placings on the tannoy, I was lucky enough to be stood next to my friend and we were both keeping our fingers crossed for a top six placing. The competition in these classes is so tough that no matter where you are placed, it is a great achievement. As they called the numbers and I was left in the top two, I couldn’t believe it. Reserve champion! It was far beyond anything I had expected. The sash was amazing — is it sad I still get excited by rosettes and sashes at my age?! (Pictured top). My one in a million pony had done it again. Win or lose I love him the same but it really is lovely when people still think he looks great at 18-years-old and he really does enjoy having his odd trip out each year. Olympia is extra special too and somewhere I always wanted to compete from a very young age.

Jacob with his sash

Our Olympia trip didn’t end there as we returned on the Sunday night this time to compete on the Monday with Windy (Shilstone Rocks North Westerly) in the BSPS native ridden final. It is such an honour to be part of this class which represents a collection of the top native ponies in the country. Windy has competed once at Olympia a few years ago and since then we have never done the qualifiers but this year after winning HOYS we decided to give it a go.

Windy at Olympia. Photo credit: Steve Dawe

I always think that with showing, sometimes the day goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. For Windy and I, Olympia wasn’t quite our show. We didn’t do anything wrong in our individual performance but we’re probably a bit lack lustre and scored disappointing marks. You can see your marks after your show so you know how you have done or at least if you have a chance, so after seeing my marks I kind of knew I was out of the running. However this didn’t stop us having a great time and returning in the afternoon for the prize giving — it is always a magical experience.

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So what a 2016. A year I never dreamt could happen the way it did. Two HOYS wins, five HOYS qualifications, two Olympia qualifiers and a reserve champion at Olympia! Wow. I feel like the luckiest person. A year I know I will never repeat but what a fantastic time we had.

So now it is time to look forward again and see what 2017 can bring. Hopefully as much fun, a bit of success and some more great days with family, friends and the ponies. I’m definitely not going into this season with any expectations, especially as I’ve already had my first low of 2017 quite literally when my younger Dartmoor pony, Leo, decided I looked better off him than on him. As people say there are no better levellers than horses!

I look forward to letting you know how the babies get on at their first outings

Chloe