What an amazing horse Lola (Cascadelle), pictured is to win two CIC*s back to back. She has done far more than I ever expected of her as a six-year-old.
Having won at Gatcombe International Horse Trials earlier in September, my plan was not to try and win at Waregem in Belgium. The idea was more to give her the experience of an international competition and broaden her horizons. But she had a clear lead from the start after her beautiful dressage test and duly followed this up with a double clear.
I withdrew her from the six-year-old championships at Osberton Horse Trials as I felt she has done enough this season. She will have a couple of months off and I will aim her for a CCI* next spring with a CIC2* being the long-term aim.
We’re really lucky to have Lola’s dam at home, Eva, who has bred two more youngsters; a yearling gelding by Sir Donnerhall and a two-year-old filly by Quad. They are both really lovely and I am particularly excited about Chilli, the filly, who is out of a jumping line similar to Lola. She shares a lot of Lola’s characteristics and is very cheeky.
Eventing is a sport of huge highs and massive lows. When I should have been celebrating Lola’s win I was instead feeling absolutely gutted as I had fallen off Derby (Wellshead Fare Opposition) at the 19th fence in the CIC3*, not least because it was our debut appearance on the British Nations Cup team.
He did a very good dressage test, although I did manage to forget the last movement, something I was paranoid about beforehand — a true case of a self-fulfilling prophecy!
It was very costly and frustrating but after a clear round in the showjumping we moved up to 12th place. Cross-country I had an amazing round and have never ridden so fast in my life. By the three and a half minute mark we were already at the 15th fence, which just shows how intense the course was.
But Derby was flying and really focused. I came into the woods, set him up before a difficult sunken road and got him back to a nice quiet canter, but for some reason he left a leg on the white rails jumping in. It’s lucky that he didn’t fall but as he twisted I got thrown out of the side door, so I had to do the walk of shame again. I felt terrible, as I’d let my horse down and the British team. It was such a shame, as we would have had a really good result.
As I have had two falls at FEI competitions I now have to go back to three star to re-qualify for a four star. I’ve decided to give Derby an easy couple of weeks at home and then I will go to Oasby Horse Trials for an open intermediate where he’ll have a quiet run so that we finish the season on a positive note. Hopefully we will go to Fountainebleau for a three-star in France and then aim for Badminton next May.
Jake (Highmead Proposition), who I also rode in the CIC*, only started eventing this March having never done it before and he’s come such a long way.
He was little tense in his dressage test but, without wanting to make excuses, there was a hole at X, which had been filled with white sand, which caused him to spook. The next day they moved the arena! He showjumped a lovely clear over the biggest track I have jumped on him and then was excellent cross-country. We took the long routes as he is inexperienced at that level and I wanted to make sure he stayed confident, but a double clear at his first one-star was brilliant and we finished 25th out of 109 starters. He will now go to Calmsden and Broadway Horse Trials, my final two outings of the season.
April (Total Belief) scored another win at Monmouth BE100+ and then went to the five-year-old championships at Osberton. Here she did a lovely dressage test to score 28.3 which put her in fifth place, but sadly felt a little below par which resulted in three poles showjumping, after which she did a super clear across country.
She took everything in her stride and really coped well with staying away for the first time — I am so pleased with her. She’s had 14 runs this season, and completed all of them with five wins and five top tens placings. She’s a very exciting horse for the future.
April will now have a holiday and then next season she’ll come out and do a couple of BE100s. She’s a big horse and she needs a lot of time and when I feel she’s ready she’ll step up to a novice and we’ll aim for a one-star towards the end of the year.
With the season reaching its conclusion, I am looking forward to a few quiet weeks so that I can recharge my batteries. I am off on holiday to Thailand on 6 November for ten nights and then I will quietely work away with my younger horses and spend as much time as possible teaching. It’s something I love and I have a few clinics lined up over the winter, as well as some private lessons. Watching people grow in confidence and develop a relationship with their horse is so rewarding.