New Zealand event rider Lucy Jackson is joining the H&H team as a guest blogger in the run up to her first attempt at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials. Meet her two Badminton horses and find out how preparations are going in her first blog.

I can’t believe I am writing about the build up to my very first Badminton aged 35!  I have spectated at the great event for the past 20 years and, having been a horse crazy teen, I just assumed that if I worked hard enough at being able to ride at Badminton Horse Trials, then of course if would just happen.  Little did I realise it would take this much hard work!

I am lucky enough to have two horses entered for the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 2013.  Willy Do, owned by Gillian Greenlees, is a 12-year-old by Matinee Du Madon, whom I have ridden for the past three years.  He is a natural born trier, who is almost apologetic in the arena and has really started to grow in self confidence, strengthen up and come into his own more recently.  Good things come to those who wait they say, so here’s hoping that after a solid first four-star at Burghley in the autumn (see picture top), he’ll be ready to show how fantastic he is in three weeks time.

Animator II (aka Luke, pictured below) owned by Ann and Nigel Taylor and Kathy Brown is my second ride.  He is a 16-year-old by Animo with boundless self belief and a giant ego. This is to be my last event on him as he returns to Aston-le-Walls for Grace Taylor to take over the reins.

Lucy Jackson and Animator II at Chatsworth Horse Trials

I have been lucky enough to ride him for a little over three years now and owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for really restoring my confidence on my return from New Zealand. He has given me some great mileage and exposure at the higher levels, ending up as first reserve for Team NZ for the Olympics last year.  I have huge admiration for Grace’s riding, temperament and work ethic and can’t wait to see Luke and Grace make teams and win medals.

Both horses ran at Tweseldown in the OI with shocking dressage tests thanks to massive amounts of over enthusiasm, but solid jumping rounds in testing conditions allowed them to let off steam.  Then Burnham Market CIC*** where they both did far better tests although still room for improvement!  A super double clear from Willy left him in 10th and although Luke’s over enthusiasm got the better of him in the showjumping, his cross-country was wonderful.

They are both lucky enough to be benefiting from my spot on High Performance Team NZ, with regular coaching not only from my incredible mentor Gill Watson, but also Luis Alvarez and Andrew Fletcher.

The build up to Badminton is going to include dressage and show jumping at Withington, some jumping and dressage days with the squad as well as plenty of fitness work, of course.  So there are exciting and nerve-wracking times ahead, juggling that fine line between having them absolutely ready to run but fresh, fit, sound and happy.

Watch this space!

Lucy