For me — as so many others — 2012 has been defined by the Olympics and the weather.
The torrential rains might have put paid to numerous events such as Badminton, but it couldn’t dampen the wonderful sport we enjoyed over the summer.
The Olympics really didn’t disappoint. Despite 5am starts every day to make sure I was in London before the trains got too busy, I loved every minute. The big screen in the office kept those of us unable to be in Greenwich up to date on what was going on — the atmosphere was electric and, surprisingly, the novelty of the National Anthem playing over the office PA system every time we won a gold medal didn’t wear off.
I was lucky enough to experience the Greenwich buzz first hand as the eventing dressage got underway, which was great. We got utterly soaked, ended up wearing green bin bags as ponchos and queued for about an hour to get a drink. But we were there, and it was amazing — my first Olympic experience!
In other 2012 firsts, I made my debut as H&H hunt reporter with the Holcombe Harriers in Lancashire — what a great hunt to start with. I was made to feel so welcome and thoroughly enjoyed it. When the 17.2hh Taffy sauntered off the lorry I briefly wondered whether I might need an oxygen tank (my horse is 15hh), but he was a gentleman and the hedges looked tiny from up there.
Another highlight of my year was meeting Denman for the first time. My friend Charlotte Alexander — who is retraining him for hunting and team chasing — and I went to the Cotswold Farm Park fun ride. I took Bosco, my five-year-old grey (pictured above beside Denman), and we had a lovely time schooling him and Denman over the cross-country fences. It’s not often you get to give a lead to a former Cheltenham Gold Cup champion!
On a personal level, I made a return to the eventing circuit with my 15hh coloured mare, Jas. It didn’t take long to get back in the swing of things and we won the unaffiliated 90cm championship at Aston-le-Walls. The series was sponsored by Harley Equestrian and the prizes were unbelievable — winning a saddle isn’t something that happens every day!
We finished our season on a high by qualifying for the 2013 Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championships at BE90 level, so fingers crossed Jas will stay sound over the winter and bring on Badminton 2013.
And I was delighted to be made Horse & Hound’s team chasing editor at the end of November. As a competitor myself, I’m really looking forward to the second half of the season, starting in March next year.
Horse & Hound celebrates an incredible 12 months for the equestrian world in our 2012 Review of the Year magazine (6 December, 2012). Grab your copy from your local stockist or buy a digital issue online now.