Well where do I start with my latest blog. It has certainly been an interesting few weeks. I’ve moved from wanting to give up on showing all together, to being on cloud nine and not imaging myself doing anything else!

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of judging at Cheshire County. Wow, what a show it is. Having never been that far north before, I was really excited to be judging the SHP classes there as I had only ever heard good things about the show and I certainly wasn’t let down.

We were blessed with beautiful weather, with some lovely classes for myself and my co judge, including lots of young jockeys coming forward for the lead rein class. Although it was a long day (it took me four-and-a-half hours to get home) it definitely felt worth it. I wish everyone who qualified at Cheshire good luck at HOYS — I hope you have a great time.

A run of the blues

Chloe riding ChiefChief (pictured right) and I have continued to have our run of seconds in HOYS qualifiers, just narrowly being pipped! Although we haven’t got the ‘golden’ ticket yet, he is still doing me proud and just seems to be going better and better each time. Hopefully we will manage to pull it out the bag some point soon, but if not I think we will definitely be edging up the leaderboard for the most consistent Welsh section B.

There have been some moments in the last few weeks that have made me question why I do this sport. I am increasingly seeing elements of what I love about showing being stripped away, which makes me sad. Showing has bought me so much joy over the years, lots of friends and some amazing times. It has also taught me about hard work, dedication, sportsmanship and to be gracious in defeat (most of the time), but this year I’ve seen a lot of this disappearing.

Things are looking up

However on the last weekend of June, I was lucky enough to encounter the best of showing once again as mum, Jacob and I headed off to the Senior Showing and Dressage Championship Show. Having never done the veteran show before we weren’t sure what to expect, but it couldn’t have been lovelier. All the competitors and committee were so helpful and friendly. People actually clapped for people they didn’t know (!) and on top of that there were some beautiful veteran animals there.

The first class I did with Jacob was the in-hand Welsh pony class. Not being an in-hand person myself, I have always been banned from showing Jacob in-hand as I quote “I cannot run fast enough for a cob”! However, I felt in veterans we could probably go a little more sedately and we must have done okay as we won the class before standing reserve champion. Winning this class put us through to the in-hand championship at the end of the day, with the winner qualifying for Olympia.

I then did my ridden class, with the same result: we won and stood reserve champion, qualifying us for the championship at the end of the day. We decided to stay for the championships as we thought they would go in at around 5:30pm and it would be nice to see how it all works. But by 7pm I was telling mum that maybe we should have headed home!

A very special ticket

At 7:30pm we entered the ring for the in-hand championship along with around 15 other beautiful horses and ponies, some of which had already qualified for Olympia or qualified previously. Jacob was on great form. I think he was secretly pleased to be back doing the in-hand classes and was marching around the ring like the show-off he is. He stood beautifully and did a nice run-up, but there were some lovely horses in the class and I wasn’t sure a small little section C would get a look in.

After the initial go and individual, the three judges pulled forward six ponies to be placed. I was thrilled when they called forward my number — it would be great to be placed I thought. They then started to count down in reverse order. I couldn’t believe it when it was just Jacob and the lovely Connemara, who I had been reserve champion to earlier on in both the ridden and the in-hand. I sidled over to say congratulations to her as I was confident we would be pulled in second. When the judges didn’t agree, my jaw hit the floor.

Picture by emmpix

Chloe can hardly believe it!
Picture by emmpix

We had won… We had qualified for Olympia! I think I may have let out a little yelp, shortly followed by a few tears! I couldn’t believe it. Even writing it now makes me well up. Jacob and I are off to Olympia! All the hard work has finally paid off and one of the loveliest things was the reaction I got from the other competitors. Everyone clapped and cheered for me. I was so made up.

Jacob was presented with the most amazing sash and two trophies. As we trotted around the ring (pictured top, picture by emmpix), I just kept thinking we have done it — we have finally made it!

When I bought Jacob seven years ago I always said he would be my Olympia pony. To me, he is the best. However after suffering a fractured knee the first year I had him, then a covering injury and Jacob just being Jacob, we have never quite made it. I have always loved him no matter what, but it was lovely to finally have my belief in him returned. He is my one in a million – personality plus and I am sure our journey from now to Olympia will be one that is both fraught and entertaining.

Despite everything I have been lucky enough to achieve over the years, this is still the ultimate accomplishment in my mind. It has been all mine and my mum’s work, which I can’t thank her enough for. Between us we have got Jacob back into shape (thanks to mum for paying the all important vets bills, of which Jacob has had many!) and back to being a happy pony at the age of 16. For me it has made all those 6am rides before work more than worth it and, without wanting to wish my life away, I cannot wait for Christmas to come! We are finally off to see Santa!