As I was lucky enough to qualify for Olympia in December, my usual showing break and end-of-season rest has certainly not been adhered to. I’m writing this thinking my body and mind are about to give up!
For me, Olympia is a dream show — not only because it has the best atmosphere, but it’s the only big show that is nearly on my doorstep! After staying at my boyfriend’s house the night before, I duly hopped on the bus and 10min later I arrived at Olympia. I don’t think I have ever taken a bus to a horse show before…
Ollie and Jo had arrived shortly before me with a fantastic-looking Windy, who was already settled in his stable. He didn’t look at a thing in the warm-up, so after we all felt comfortable with how he was going, we headed back to the stables ahead of the long wait before my class.
As I was in the third section, we had some time to watch the others and see how the ride marks were going. It also gave my friend Nina time to get to Olympia after I got a last-minute ticket that morning. It was like Challenge Anneka as to whether she would make it or not, but just as I got on Windy she appeared!
I didn’t feel nervous waiting backstage, but as I walked into the arena the pressure mounted and I became acutely aware of my breathing and how tight my tie was! In the go round Windy felt like he was trotting on air and I was so proud of him.
I was second out to do my show, so not much time to get worried. We had a little resistance into our first canter, but apart from that I felt our show went well. At Olympia you head straight over for the conformation section after your ridden show, so I was trying to see my marks as they went up on the big screen. Sadly I was disappointed — one reasonable mark, one bad mark.
I ran back through my show in my head to try to work out what we did wrong as my marks were lower than ponies who spooked, cantered on the wrong leg and threw their heads around. I would be lying if I said I didn’t come out the ring disappointed — I felt like I had let the team down and really wanted to do a great job for Windy’s owners.
There were a few hours to wait until the final results were announced, so after having some champagne and chatting with friends back at the stables, I started to perk up. I watched some fantastic jumping and realised what a big deal it was to just be there riding and how lucky I was to have my family, friends and my boyfriend there to support me.
It was weird going back in for the final results with an idea I wouldn’t be placed, but it is still so much fun to be part of it. To ride into that packed arena with some of the top ponies in the country is a dream come true and I loved every minute.
As predicted I wasn’t placed, but some beautiful ponies were, including some ridden by my good friends and it’s great being in the ring to cheer them on. I’ve never been a fan of standing on the sidelines!
When we saw the full marks for the class later on, we found out Windy had the top conformation marks for his breed, which was just great. He had tried his socks off and that was all that mattered. He has gone from strength-to-strength and is still only 6. To be riding him at Olympia made me so proud of the whole team’s achievement last season and hopefully this won’t be our last trip to see Santa.
Whilst Windy has now gone off for his winter holiday, there is no rest for the wicked and it is now time to crack on with the babies for the new season. Watch this space as I’ll tell you more about them in my next blog.