And that’s a wrap on another eventing season, my third as a blogger for H&H, which I am really grateful for, and I hope you all enjoy following my year with my horses.
This has been my second full year eventing full-time since leaving Exeter University in 2013. It hasn’t all gone swimmingly and when I look back now I definitely never appreciated how lucky I was to have the horses I did while at uni. I had three three-star horses and with their retirements I am still in the process of building up my team again with a bunch of exciting young horses.
This season has been slightly frustrating due to various horse injuries, the most sad being the lovely little Max (Maximus Meridius), who will need a couple of years out to recover. I am very upset for his owners, Sir Richard and Lady Hardy, who are so supportive of me and love him to pieces. Max has given me loads of fun at intermediate level and the ride he gave me round a huge two-star track at Tattersalls was one of the highlights of my season.
Ruby (Rubabell Cruise) picked up a slight injury early in the season but is now back in work and gearing up for next year already.
I have been thrilled with the progress all my young horses have made over the season. Nick Engert’s two lovely mares, both by the exciting stallion Emperor Augustus, have been superstars.
Effie (Augusta Firefly) produced two fantastic double clear performances in her one-satrs this autumn, with a second place at Bicton CIC* and a 12th at Ballindenisk CCI*. For a six-year-old I couldn’t have asked for more and she finishes her second eventing season still with a faultess cross-country record. Edie (Aunt Augusta) is a big, rangey mare who we have given lots of time and she popped round all her BE100s with ease so will be ready to step up to novice level at the start of next season.
Di White-Hamilton’s two five-year-olds, Sweet Pea (Wish Upon A Diamond) and Balou (True Blue Too) have also had very educational seasons. Balou had a couple of BE100 runs but then we decided to take him off the circuit for the rest of the season to concentrate on getting him stronger and more settled in the dressage. Hopefully this will pay dividends for him next season. Sweet Pea has had a great season and jumped five double clears in a row at BE100 level. Very sadly she was slightly off the boil and in season for her last event but she now has a winter of hunting ahead of her.
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Archie (Arise Cavalier) so nearly finished off his season in fantastic style. We took him over to Ballindenisk to do his first CIC2* and he led the dressage on a great score of 43.7. I was absolutely thrilled with this as my dressage trainer, Hannah Biggs, has been working really hard all season to get him to produce a performance like this and excitingly I know he has lots more to give. We ran across country before the showjumping and he gave me a foot perfect ride until a serious rush of blood to the head from the jockey at the second last meant he left a leg and smacked his knee on the fence. We finished in one piece and it was only an hour afterwards that he decided that he had actually a rather sore, bruised knee. Despite masses of icing overnight we just weren’t happy with how he was the next day and sadly had to withdraw before the showjumping. I was devastated that he didn’t get a chance to jump for the win, but it obviously wasn’t meant to be. We took him home and decided to re-route to Osberton and run him in the seven-year-old championships. In hindsight I think he had gone slightly over the top and was ready for a holiday as he wasn’t quite his usual full-of-life self and we ended up having a very frustrating and uncharacteristic couple of run outs cross-country when lying in fifth place. He is on his holiday now before coming back into work early in November to spend some time hunting.
So at the end of another season it’s time for all the horses to get a bit of a holiday and also a little holiday for me! Then we have a winter full of hunting and racing and lots of training for next season. It also gives me a moment to thank my wonderful team; my sponsors, Hermione Gayton equine physiotherapist and Unicorn Saddlery for their continued and much valued support, to my very supportive owners my super groom Bridget, my fantastic trainers, Hannah Biggs and Emma Fisher, my farrier, Neil Watts, my vet, Keith Jones, and of course my super parents who I definitely couldn’t do this without. I am already looking forward to 2017!