I was looking forward to cracking on with the youngsters over the four-day Easter weekend — until I went down with the Norovirus after a meal out on Good Friday, which totally wiped me out.

So, there I was at 4pm on Easter Saturday, at the age of 27, on the phone to my mum begging for her to take me home and make me better. Good old mum! Despite feeling terrible, I did manage to ride on Easter Sunday and the Monday. Although I use the term ‘ride’ very loosely — more like bobbled about on top as my stomach muscles complained bitterly.

Luckily by the following weekend I had recovered enough to head off to BSPS Area 16 with Jacob (my Section C stallion) and Spud (Carol Dutton’s Connemara stallion) for the RIHS qualifier. Both the boys had been out to BSPS 15A without me mid-week and they had finished 3rd and 4th respectively.

It was lovely to be back at an outdoor show with great rings and the sun was shining, which in my mind means the season has really begun. Spud did a good go round with the others, but on the day clearly wasn’t the judges type as we were pulled in towards the lower end. His show was not my best piece of riding, so we ended up out of the top six. But it was great to see Claire’s niece taking a deserved win on her Connemara, Glencarrig Duke.

I came out the ring and did a quick swap onto Jacob, who was in the next class. He flew around the ring, but was pulled in down the line. He did a nice show and I was pleased to be pulled all the way up to 4th. So now Jacob has had two 4th’s and one 3rd in his qualifiers — good but not yet good enough!

I don’t bounce as well as I used to!

After the show I headed up to ride my young Dartmoor, Francis. After our recent blip he has been going really nicely, so we tried a little canter. He was a very good boy and although we had a little buck into it, he seemed to get the hang of it.

The next day we did the same thing and he felt relaxed so I thought I would try to keep the canter all the way round the school. This was fine until the yard dog stuck his head through the fence and barked. Now Francis is quite use to dogs, but I think this took him by surprise. His head went down and, in that split second I made the wrong decision to pull it up and kick him forward. Mistake! Francis launched himself into the air and then shot sideways out from underneath me. I knew I was going to hit the deck — he was far too quick and the neck strap was nowhere in sight!

It isn’t far to fall, but I was pretty shocked to be on the ground and I had a nice mark on my hat where I had managed to land on my head. I am a bit paranoid about falling off youngsters as the first fall can really worry them, and because Francis is quite nervous I thought this might take him right back to the beginning, but thankfully he was fine. I got back on and we did a few more walks and trots around the school to regain our confidence and then called it a day.

I am pleased to report that we have managed to canter again since, and I haven’t hit the deck yet! I’d rather not test my bounce factor out again if I can help it; once every couple of years is fine for me. I don’t bounce as well as I use to!

Until next time

Chloe