One of the marvellous things about team chasing is that the season is split in two halves, so you never really have long to wait between one end of the season coming to a close and the next starting.
In April we packed away our bobbled hat silks and ultra-streamline base layers and gave our partners in crime a couple of weeks holiday. The first week off riding was bliss, but by the beginning of the second week I had started to trawl the internet for clips of team chasing in anticipation of the new season starting. Then the realisation hit hard that there were four months to wait for the season to kick off; a plan was needed brewing to make the time go faster.
Cue printing off entry forms for a couple of local one day events run by the Pony Club. Chivvied along by a great friend and occasional team chasing buddy; Briony, we made our entries for the gigantic heights of the 90cm class on two consecutive weekends.
A quick trip to Ely Eventing Centre with new team member Kelly (pictured top) on her fantastic ex racehorse Bluey was arranged and we had a great afternoon having a spin over the fences. Quick to state that the schooling was needed to get our horses’ eye back in, we cruised over uprights, banks, combinations and those dreaded trakehners like it was the middle of the season.
It was all too apparent that they had forgotten nothing over their mini holiday — the horses were well on form. Helen from our yard came along for the afternoon and snapped some fantastic photos. She did a great job being heavily pregnant, following us up, down and back up again all over the course to get the perfect photo.
In the ribbons
Come the one day events, I surprised myself with our successes; both Briony and I were in the ribbons at the first event and better than mid divide at the second. I took to the dressage well and in an attempt to leave the poles up in the show jumping, opted for time faults in the hope of regaining some control.
Briony being a bit of a pro at these things, beamed encouragement from the side-lines while I tried to remember to sit up, to see the stride and rather than urge him on, to hold for it before each fence. All a bit foreign but it was fun.
The weather was foul both times but the company and the day as a whole was enjoyable, yet something was missing for me, something wasn’t ticking all my boxes; there wasn’t that element of sheer elation coming over the finish line that you can’t help but feel team chasing.
So when the first schedules appeared at the beginning of July on www.teamchasing.co.uk it was go go go for checking the team were ready for a run at the first date, the Warwickshire on the bank holiday weekend. I was thrilled that the four of us that completed the Heythrop at the end of the season were all on board, the entry was put in and it was a case of just waiting patiently.
In the meantime, Kerrie, our lead rider was lucky enough to join her hunt, the Fitzwilliam, at the Festival of Hunting at Peterborough showground for the inter hunt relay. Always up for a day out I went along to watch the fun, yet later found out that pretty much the only reason Kerrie invited me was to help carry the two stone of lead weight up the seemingly everlasting hill to the weigh in tent before she ran.
Sadly, again the weather was a bit hit and miss but Kerrie and her gorgeous horse Harty had a total blast around the inter hunt relay course (three laps of the course after having to take the turn of two other members) and we had a lovely afternoon browsing around the stalls and seeing lots of familiar faces.
New gear and team tactics
A quick stop in at our team sponsors www.forelockandload.com the week leading up to the first team chase to pick up some new saddlecloths and chat team tactics meant come the bank holiday weekend we were all raring to go…
And then horses being horses, my trusty accomplice Kitkat pulled a shoe the day before meaning I had to step down from the team. Fortunately we had two very reliable reserves in place as Kerrie was also unable to run.
So as a full team, Forelock and Fully Loaded made it to the Warwickshire, where the ground had been impeccably prepared and the fences well presented. The team had a brilliant round, came away learning a lot and full of running. We are entered for the Belvoir on 13 September and I can’t wait.