I spent the last two months of 2016 setting up my new yard which has been exciting and terrifying in equal measures – a huge learning curve and an enormous amount of hard work which has enabled me to be where I am now, with a fantastic support team behind me and some amazing facilities.
This also meant I was starting out which means from scratch. Alongside having a handful of liveries and teaching to help fund the expensive train, I seem to have somehow gained some amazing owners (plus retained some very loyal long term ones) who have enabled me to have this exciting team of young horses that I have been quietly been brining on this year.
So, the 2017 eventing season has drawn to a close.
It has been a funny old year, it started for the first time in many years without my long time partner Bump (Country Bumpkin) as I felt at the end of last year his physical problems meant that I couldn’t ask him to push on to 3*.
He is such a lovely horse that I know he would have tried to do it for me but it simply wasn’t fair to ask so we let him go off on loan for the season to teach a lovely under 18 girl the ropes, and hopefully take her to the Pony Club championships (which they achieved and in true Bump form, with interesting dressage and cracking jumping!)
Coming up behind Bump and poised to take my attention away from him going was Christine Ashby’s Ralph (Rittersporn) who is a very exciting 10 year old who I had in to sell in January 2016. He is a horse who has huge paces, with attitude to match and had barely jumped before he arrived with me as his character had come between him and his talent.
He was so talented and scopey that Christine Ashby agreed to buy him for me to compete and he was jumping round his first BE Novice by July 2016, plenty of work followed and we really believed that 2017 was to be his year.
He was getting better and better, we were looking at his first intermediate run when he picked up an injury at Chatsworth (after the most amazing round on perfect ground) following pulling off a shoe two from home in the 1* which put him out for the rest of the season. Heart-breaking, but as I have already learned with horses that’s life.
Austin (Power of Dreams) has come such a long way since he first arrived, you wouldn’t recognise him which is huge credit to his owner, veterinary physio extraordinaire Antonia Bealby. She has put a huge amount of time into turning into the horse he is today (when he arrived he could hardly trot or canter, let alone jump!).
We have taken our time with him, but he’s really stepped up to the mark going BE in July and even getting a win at Frickley Park finishing on his dressage of 28 (had he been able to be competitive in a BE90 class and I, completely fairly, have to ride HC at BE90 having ridden at advanced). He will show-jump and dressage through the winter and be aimed for novice next season all being well!
Pocket (Warren Hills Pocket Rocket) came to me to bring on and do a few 5 year old classes while her owner’s daughter was travelling. She was a joy to have around, very talented and I’m sure I will see her out next season doing brilliantly.
Lady (Savi Rose) is a lovely 5 year old who was only backed in the spring so has been taken very slowly, only doing a few unaffiliated events.I am really quite excited about her, so watch out for her next season.
Maple (Billy Maple) is a 4 year old who is owned half by my landlady and half by my marketing guru… No pressure there then!
Seriously though, I am absolutely privileged to be given the opportunity to bring on this very special mare who came from the Billy Stud and, to date, is showing us all why Billy horses are world class, she has been out to a few show jumping training shows and a couple of hunter trials and has not put a foot wrong, and simply shown her class.
Max (Quiet Approach) is (hopefully!) another future superstar. He is a 4yo ex racehorse, he raced once but was such a slow old boat they quit while they were ahead! It is not entirely surprising as he is 4 and just shy of 17hh, gangly and gorgeous but very weak, as you would expect for a horse of that age and that size.
He is syndicated (still a few shares available!) and we are hoping he may have matured enough next year to compete 5yo classes but if we feel he hasn’t we won’t push him. So far he has been out to a couple of very low key unaffiliated competitions where he has jumped beautifully and been so laid back and well behaved.
In July I was offered the ride on a lovely mare Dolly (Doctor’s Orders) owned by a very busy vet whose work commitments and career progression meant she simply didn’t have time to do this very smart mare justice. I only competed her twice this season at Novice but think so much of this horse that I think next season she may well surprise us all.
Earlier on in the year I was asked to show jump a horse who I had ridden from a 4 year old, just over from Ireland, up to BE Novice then jumped up to Foxhunter when it was decided that his talents lay in the show jumping route.
Wexford (PLS Halo Diamond) then went on to a pro Showjumper who developed his talents further. I was so excited and flattered to be asked to jump him again.
This is a journey of firsts for me, we are currently jumping 1m30 classes successfully and I am absolutely loving every second of this horse – I have genuinely never sat on anything before with such a jump. I am very excited where we might go. Being placed in the Star of the Future Grand Prix Final was quiet a turn up for an “eventer”!
Now the event season has finished we have the babies in from their summer of growing ready to learn about being grown up ponies, although so far we are yet to convince them this is a good idea..!
So really in conclusion, a funny old year does sum it up. It started with high hopes. Massive disappointments followed with the only consolation that kept me going being the gorgeous youngsters.
Then Dolly’s unexpected arrival, followed by the opportunity to jump Wexford again, things were on the up. Finally, to cap it all, Bump came home full of the joys of the Pony Club Championships, sound and refusing to retire so has been out to a couple of parties jumping double clear round Novices, so who knows what his old body might want to do next season! It may have its highs and lows but it beats working in an office. I feel so lucky to be able to do what I love every day, so a HUGE thanks has to go to all my fantastically supportive owners and my insanely knowledgeable trainers who I do not know what I would do without!!
Lastly, and as importantly as all of the above, I have for the first time in my career been a Supported rider for the best brands out there in the equestrian arena. A heartfelt thank you for all your support and encouragement during the season. You have genuinely made that difference to me between being able to do it and not. Thank you.