January – June
We had a slight hitch over christmas in that my Dad slipped, fell and broke his ankle on Boxing Day. We are told that if you were to have a break that this, thank heavens, is a ‘good’ break!?! We have however learned that he is not a good patient and that mum and I are not good nurses…..if he had 4 legs and a tail this would be different of course!!
At this time it’s always a battle with the weather and this year is no different. Humphrey, Goofy and I have however managed to have a session with Dominique Flament at home and have just returned from 2 days in Gloucestershire with Carl Hester. I am thrilled to feel the ability that the two horses have and it is down to me to realise their potential…..no pressure!!!
Fast forward 5 months & I have a couple of weeks to take breath between end of qualifying for the Regional Championships, trips to train with Carl, the Young Horse Semi Finals & the Regional Championships. The last 5 months have flown by & now the winter and summer weather seem poles apart. This winter was a constant battle with the cold & snow. I know we live in Scotland but it seemed that we got off lightly for the first half but the 6 weeks after the Regional Championships made up for it. Yes, it had snowed in March & April before but never like this & when you only have an outdoor arena I was a little stressed by it all. Especially when the week before the Winter Championships at Hartpury we had yet more snow!!!
Goofy had an outing to Morris in early February in which we tried out our new music at Medium which had been put together by Tom Hunt. Tom has the patience of a saint, as he had music returned to him 8 times before I was happy with it…..& that was just for walk & trot! With yet another ‘Tom’ tweak needed before the Regionals, we headed headed there with music that I loved!
Goofy had 4 classes at the Morris EC Regionals; Elementary Freestyle, Elementary Gold, Medium Freestyle & Medium Gold. He was very good but as time went on he started to get tired both mentally & physically. He won & got direct qualification for the Winter Championships in the Elementary Gold & the Medium Freestyle & was 2nd in the Elementary Freestyle & Medium Gold. So we had to wait for wildcards to be issued & we were fortunate to get them in both!! I then made the tough decision to do just 3 of the 4 classes that he qualified for. I felt it was better to do 3 classes well than try for 4 & have a very tired horse at the end of it.
It turned out to be a very good decision, Goofy won the Elementary Gold Freestyle at the BD National Winter Championships with 78.01%!! It has been 3.5 years since my last National win & in all honesty I thought the days of National titles were past. So this felt like an Olympic medal….& as Olympian, Charlotte Dujardin said ‘you’ve proved yourself wrong & that is probably the hardest battle – well done!!’ Thanks Charlotte, that means a lot & is very likely true.
Our elementary freestyle was debuted at the Championships. I used our ‘Tom’ Medium music & choreographed an Elementary floor plan for it & thankfully it all came together on the day! In the Elementary Gold he scored 70.16% for 8th & in the Medium Freestyle he scored 72.11% for 4th. Not bad for less than 10 months together. Thankyou Kingfisher & Gordon Grainger for letting me ride Goofy. I hope his successes bring you as much pleasure as they do me!
We returned home from the Championships & quickly gained qualification for the Elementary Gold & Medium Gold Summer Regionals. My plan was to give us 2 months free to work on way of going & tackle flying changes. I can report that we are over the worst as far as the flying changes are concerned, they now need tamed before we try an advanced medium!
Humphrey has continued to grow (yikes he is huge), mature & develop. He is finding his balance & learning to control his body. The lovely thing is that as the work gets harder he is actually finding things easier.
At the Winter Regionals he was 2nd in the Novice Gold & 3rd in the Novice Freestyle. It was a wildcard wait for him too, but successful in that his %s were good enough to be awarded them in both!
Hartpury was an ENORMOUS learning curve for Humphrey, it was the first competition that he had stayed away at & his first experience of anything like the atmosphere of the Hartpury arena. Fortunately his BFF, Goofy was there to support but when Goofy went for a lie down while Humphrey was being plaited it did result in Humph having a meltdown as he thought Goofy had abandoned him!! I was thrilled that in both tests, Humphrey tried his best & gained 72.04% & 5th in the Novice Freestyle & 69.38% in the Novice Gold & 6th. We had the pleasure of meeting his & Freddie’s breeders at the Championships. Ilse Bosch & her daughter came over from Holland to watch his classes at the Championships. After all these years of keeping in contact about Freddie’s successes it was lovely to meet them at last!
Since the Winter Championships he has started elementary & had qualified for the Novice & Elementary Summer Regionals. At Rockrose EC a few weeks ago he took part in the YH 6yo qualifier. He won with 81.5% & so we head to Port Royal for the Semi-Final.
We have decided to retire Freddie from competition & turn his focus to becoming a schoolmaster. I will teach clients on him & give them the chance to experience advanced movements.
Colin has been quietly following his rehab program over the last 11 months. He the BURST back onto the competition scene at Alnwick Ford & SNEC. Competition 1 was tense & tight, competition 2 was over exuberant – to say the least & competition 3 was back to the Colin I know & love! He qualified for the Advanced Medium Gold & PSG Gold for the Regionals.
Since then Colin had had a VERY minor setback & is to take things easy for a few weeks but he will return soon to competition.
Henry is set to return home from his 8 months grazing mid July & Darcy will go to be broken-in in October.
July – December
After an initial ‘upsetting of the apple cart’ due to learning flying changes Goofy had to stop thinking of such things for a few months while we concentrated on Regional, Scottish & National Championships. So, mid July saw competition & test practice resume!
With Carl’s ok I started ‘home’ training with Paul Hayler. He travels to a yard in Biggar (45mins from me) to do clinics & goes there every 4 to 6 weeks. This means that as I’m only able to head to Carl every 2+ months with 2 horses, it gives me the option of more consistent training. I am really enjoying these additional sessions & I feel the horses & I are really benefitting from it.
Goofy ventured to meet Paul before the Regionals for an outing as we hadn’t competed since April. It set us a good grounding for the Regionals & he won both the Elementary Gold & Medium Gold up at Cabin EC.
Next was the Scottish Championships at Rockrose EC. He competed in the Elementary Gold, Medium Gold & Medium Gold Freestyle winning them all! He completed his Medium Gold Freestyle qualification there & made a healthy start to his Medium Gold points accumulation.
Then onto the National Championships…..the standard is now so high, a few years ago if you scored over 70% you could realistically think you would get a top 5 placing, now it’s likely to be top 15!! The Medium Championship was Goofy’s first & despite the working in not being my planned ideal he went through the pillars of the competition arena & put on his competition hat. Thankyou Goofy……we were rewarded with 70.89% & 9th place, which I was really happy with. With 2 horses in the Elementary on the Sunday morning, it was full steam ahead. Thankyou Mum & Mary for all your help in getting things to run smoothly on that day & the previous ones! I was still on a high from Humphrey’s Elementary test as he was on first. I knew Humphrey had done well so Goofy had to pull up his socks! Goofy was fantastic, rose to the occasion & the test went how I wanted. We didn’t hear his score for quite a while but I knew the ones before me had scored big & were provisionally lying 1st & 2nd….then I heard Goofy had gone into the lead!! It was painful waiting for the last few scores in the class to go up but when they did it confirmed he had won!! 2 British Championships, 4 Scottish Championships & 4 Regional Championships in 15 months – WOW, what a time we have had! To win the Freestyle at the Winter Championships had been amazing but a straight class at the Summer Nationals took it to another level!!
A weeks holiday to R&R for Goof then we completed his Medium Gold Winter Regional qualification at Rockrose.
Then we headed down to Carl’s, who was thrilled that he could ‘play’ with no restrictions of having competitions to aim for. Hello again to changes & an introduction to pirouettes, piaffe & passage. What is lovely is that the greater questions that I ask, the more pliable Goofy becomes in body & mind. All VERY exciting!!
Humphrey travelled to Port Royal in Yorkshire for the YH 6yo Semi Final. He was super as new to the level required both in this & the elementary. We were thrilled that he was placed 5th & secured his place at the National Championships. Fortunately they ran a practice of the Regional Elementary test & I thought its good chance for a practice as he had never done a difficult test at this level. We ticked most boxes with only minor wobbles so I hoped we could go to the Regionals & not embarrass ourselves!
At the Regionals he really tried & won the Novice Gold & was 2nd to Goofy in the Elementary Gold. He qualified straight with his win & was awarded a wildcard in the Elementary. Clever boy, he now had 3 classes at the National Championships to compete in!
Scottish Championships first; 4th in the Elementary Gold, 2nd in the Novice Gold & wins in the Novice Gold & Elementary Gold Freestyles with huge marks.
I am definitely finding that Humphrey grows in confidence as he compete & that was very apparent at the National Championships. I had hoped that the Novice Gold would be his class, but I had a scared, nervous & withdrawn boy. He didn’t make any mistakes but it felt we apologised for being there throughout the test….we finished 12th. He came out the next day with renewed confidence & was 6th in the 6yo YH Championship. He however saved his best till last! I had qualified him for the Elementary Regionals with the hope that he might be ready. It was a dream that he would produce the Elementary test he did at the Championships & finish 9th with 71%!! I was equally elated with the win & 9th placing for very different reasons!
Humphrey has since completed Elementary Gold, Elementary Gold Freestyle & Medium Gold Freestyle qualifications for the Winter Regionals. It is now his turn to be introduced to flying changes & the ideas of more advanced work.
We have been on a roller coaster ride with Colin; he qualified for the Summer Regionals at Advanced Medium & PSG then had a minor set back & couldn’t do the Regionals. He then got back on track, managed training with Paul & won the PSG Championship at the Scottish Championships at Rockrose. He qualified for the Winter Regionals at PSG & gained points towards Inter1 qualification but we have hit another blip. Hopefully it is just short-term but means we are likely not to manage Inter1 qualification.
Henry decided that a jumping orientated life was for him & so after some jumping education with Scott McLennan he found a lovely home with a young rider. Good luck Henry & Kirsty, we look forward to watching you progress together. As Henry steps aside Darcy moves to Scott’s stables to get broken in. Good luck Scott, let me know when she is nice & sensible for me to take on, lol.
I felt hugely honoured to be nominated & shortlisted for the Horse & Hound award for ‘Inspiration of the Year’. It is lovely that people have followed & supported me as they have done over the last 4yrs & I hope my story helps other people. I still get very emotional when I allow myself to think back & realise just how far I have come. Even I didn’t dream that I could have experienced a year like this after what happened & how I was. Daisy Sadler, a very worthy nominee won the award but it was a great excuse for a trip away & to get dressed up!
Social events seem to be like buses….none for ages & then 2 come along close together! After the H&H Awards I had the BD Scottish Region Awards Ball. Another great evening & reason to get dressed up. Goofy won awards for being the Highest Placed Combination at both the Winter & Summer National Championships, while Humphrey won an award for receiving the Highest % at the Summer Regional Championships.
Thankyou everyone, especially mum, dad, the horses owners; Mary Hope & Gordon & Alison Grainger, my sponsors, Carl….the list goes on & on, for never giving up on me. I hope I have repaid you & I don’t intend to stop trying now!
Equestrian Stockholm gave me a lovely surprise & gift during the summer; a large box arwith lots of goodies which included competition numnahs, bandages, work breeches & stable curtains. All are of gorgeous quality & both the horses & I enjoyed wearing our smart look at the Nationals.
Goofy & Humphrey both had the luxury of new saddles from Sankey Saddles in the last year. Both love their saddles, as I do!! Sankey Saddle are made specific to each horse, they are individually tailored & suit their needs. I am lucky in that the seat has been designed to suit me & is VERY comfortable!
All continue to benefit from their TopSpec feeding I wish I could say their coats & condition was down to hours of brushing but I have to come clean & say the feed does the work…..I only ‘flick’ & wash them off after work!!
The massage & magnetic pads from Equilibrium have really benefitted Goofy & Humphrey. Being young horses at the start of their training, they are going to suffer muscle soreness & these pads help minimise aches & pains. In addition to this they receive Equine Massage from Emma Donaldson & Osteopathic treatment for Tom McMullen. All work well together to benefit the horses to strengthen & develop.
HorseScotland training has been great in getting horses out & about without the stresses of competition. With the addition of show jumping training going on beside the dressage arena it has been very educational for them & also a test for me in keeping their concentration! On occasion I’ve had to persuade them to stick to their job, that the jumps are too high & they can’t join in. 🙂
Along side the training, HorseScotland also keep an eye on rider fitness & we get a session with an equine related physio. From a fitness point of view I am thankful that I am not put through the tests the event riders have to endure! However, I am pleased to say my metabolic age is some 10-15 years below reality – though reality does seem to catch up more these days! I do see an osteopath fairly regularly to help with aches & pains but it is great to have the input from a physio who is rider orientated. Over the last couple of years there has been a steady improvement in my equality of both sides of my body……my right hand side has ‘switched’ itself back on. 🙂
Thanks as ever to; UVEX for keeping me safe & stylish in their lovely hats for work & competition & JM Horseboxes for the yearly TLC the lorry gets.