All season, I’ve been acutely aware of the great efforts and sacrifices of stewards, judges and organisers, and will no doubt be devoting a blog to them one week (when HOYS isn’t round the corner).

However, with the news that Mr Pattinson has been shortlisted for Horse & Hound‘s ‘volunteer of the year’ award, I’d like to start this blog by asking you all to please go and vote for Terry Pattinson, and if possible forward the link to anyone else who might like to vote for him.

Terry Pattinson

Terry Pattinson

Mr Pattinson has been there to steward from my very earliest efforts at working hunter pony classes, and judging by the number of people who say the same thing, seemingly for hundreds of years before that. When we were in cradle stakes Susie and I always hurried over to him with the plea that he whisper his magic word to our ponies before we jumped, and he always performed the ritual with great solemnity, which gave us (and I’m sure many anxious mothers) terrific confidence.

He is always the same, whether it’s 7am in the Caldene Arena collecting ring or 7pm at the BSPS Summer champs. He is endlessly kind, smiling, calm and encouraging. So I do ask you all, if you or any of your team have ever been encouraged by Terry Pattinson, now is your moment to thank him: www.horseandhound.co.uk/awards

Terry Pattinson

Terry Pattinson

As for my own recent news, I had one of my worst ever days of competing at Burghley Horse Trials in the Burghley event pony showing class. Neither Cash nor I were at our best (to say the least), and we now seem to be in a bit of an unfortunate lull in the season. A tiny bit of me always thinks it’s a shame that at this time of year we would love to be able to take the ponies home from the magic of Burghley, thank them for a wonderful year and give them a holiday over winter. However, having traipsed the land all year chasing HOYS qualifiers, we now have a tortuous five week wait until the final itself in October. This means we are obliged to keep the ponies up and running, all against the instincts of nature (their coats and my mother’s energy).

Cash and I during the dressage phase at Burghley

Cash and I during the dressage phase at Burghley

Since I’m away from home at school I find it particularly frustrating to have to watch everyone else training and getting ready, while I rely on the hacks my mother has taken Cash on, and suffer her daily groaning down the telephone to me about the torture instrument she regards my saddle as. And just in case you were wondering: no, hacking a pony for five weeks is probably not adequate preparation for one of the biggest jumping competitions of the year (although thanks mummy, I appreciate your efforts). I have an exeat next weekend and rest assured, we will spend it fine tuning…

Cash and I at Burghley

Cash and I at Burghley

Having said that, I always think there should be fear of over-training. It is a problem I’d say is frequent in working hunters. I can see that it is very tempting in such a huge gap of time between now and HOYS to get in as much practice as possible, however the seemingly long term gain of this is usually a misconception from uber keen mothers.

Susie Eddis Noble Sir Prize at Burghley

Susie Eddis Noble Sir Prize at Burghley

In fact, there is a considerable amount of evidence which would disagree with the notion that you should be getting a lot of extra practice in just before a big event. Obviously this is not true of every pony and I am certainly not advising that you all take a huge great break for the next few weeks; but sometimes, if you can pull it off just right, the results are excellent.

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My best example as proof of this is the most successful week we have ever had at the BSPS Summer Champs, which began the morning after we’d had a week on holiday. I honestly don’t know why we thought that would be a good idea, but somehow it paid off. Both the ponies and ourselves arrived at the champs looking and feeling our freshest ever, and their jumping rounds reflected this beautifully, with the result of a very unexpected three supreme titles (in fact, Susie remained unbeaten all week in all her classes and championships). All produced from a week turned out in the field.

Susie in the line-up at Burghley

Susie in the line-up at Burghley

Now this is all very well, but the fact of the matter remains that looking forward to HOYS Cash really is not a pony who will benefit from this approach and so I think we can safely say that this whole blog is just the product of wishful thinking. Looks like I’ll be relying on Mr Pattinson’s magic word then…

Lucy