Bonnie Fishburn reviews her 2016 season

Champion Blog – Bonnie Fishburn

2016 has proved to be the usual roller-coaster ride that we, as event riders, tend to go through most years. One minute you can be sat on cloud celebrating your day’s results but then the next you can be sat scrubbing grass stains out of your breeches wondering where it all went wrong. I had my usual crew of Frankie, Percy and Florence to play with this season and new boy Elfie and baby Arrow. But things were somewhat different. Frankie my 17 year old that I rode to BE intermediate, although sound after having little issues through 2014 and 2015, has taken a different career path this season. Due to having suspensory damage I had decided to call it a day with the eventing and just have a play at some Working Hunters. That way he still gets to jump and compete but without the strain they undergo getting them fit and having to gallop. He first competed at Royal Cheshire where he was 2nd, was also 2nd at Newport and Aintree in the summer, 3rd at Burwarton and finally 4th at Aintree’s Autumn Spectacular in the intermediate and 2nd in the Open. Not a bad result for his first season in a new career and one that he seems to be enjoying.


Florence, my 15.1hh homebred 10 year old, who I have competed to BE Novice had the biggest rollercoaster ride of all of mine this season. We started out in March with a win at Lincolnshire in the Open BE100, but with weather being typically British we didn’t get to run again until May, where we were entered in the Novice at Moreton Morrell. She dressasged and showjumped well but I had a fall at fence 4 xc. Being a clever mare this stuck with her for our following event at Llanymynech where she just wasn’t travelling and enjoying the xc so I pulled her up. Heartbroken and wondered what my next step should be, I headed to Somerford Park for a little jolly round an Open BE90, back on form she flew round and had a wonderful time to take her second win of the season. After this I made quite possibly one of my biggest decisions of the year, I had always said that one day I would like to breed from her and with her being 10, now seemed as good a time as any. So we got the ball rolling with that and went in search of the right husband. Meanwhile I had a couple of runs to finish her off and neither went to plan. Stafford she was lying in a good top 5 spot heading into xc but had a very cheeky moment as fence 3, then flew the rest. And at Cholmondeley Castle the course was perfect for her but we had a complete freak fall showjumping. Sometimes there is no reason for what happens and you have to just forget it and move on. Which we have, she is now 5 months in foal to the lovely Amiro Z, so exciting times ahead for next summer.


The majority of my eventing this season has been with my lovely homebred coloured 9 year old Percy, aka Mr Precision. He finished last season picking up his first point at BE Novice, so this year I decided to get going with an Open BE100 and then kick on with Novice again and get lots of experience at that level and enter some of the bigger more technical tracks. In our first couple of runs we jumped clears sj but had silly moments xc, just a spook and a glance off a skinny, that was Lincoln and Gatcombe, then he flew round Weston Park for 10th.  In May he suffered cracked heels and was sore in the sj at Moreton Morrell so didn’t run xc. And at Chatsworth he had a fabulous dressage score of 25, an unlucky pole sj but a silly glance of a corner cause he just ran on a bit after the big parallel at ‘A’. Cracking round otherwise. Onto Brand Hall for a good round and 10th, another super round and 10th at Upton House, before heading to the British Riding Clubs 100+ National Championships. Here he put in a super performance to win his section and our team. Tushingham & District Riding Club were 2nd. From there we headed to Somerford Park for the BE Novice, a very wet and miserable day, but still on form jumped a double clear for 2nd spot. Next we were 12th at Llanymynech, 3rd in the Open Dressage at the BRC National Champs in Lincolnshire and then a fantastic 9th at Gatcombe, in super hot company. This left us with one final run of the year, Weston Park. He started the day with a fair dressage and jumped his socks of sj just lowering one rail and by the time we ran xc, the sun was low and the course was causing trouble, so much so that there were only 11 clears of 36 competitors in our section. We got caught out at the log drop into the stream in the wood, he just couldn’t read it, which is so not him. We ended up taking the long route and then popping sweetly round the rest of the course. Such a shame to finish our season like that but I can’t complain, we’ve had some fabulous runs and super results to go with it.


Elfie is a horse that I bought as an unbroken 3 year old in November 2015. This year for him has been about getting out and about to lots of new places and introducing him to dressage, showjumping and cross country. I broke him in, in December last year and tuned him a way. Come February he was back in work and by the end of March he’d had a little jump and was at his first dressage competition. He seems to take to new situations really well, is very level headed, enjoys his work and the judges like him. He’s had plenty of wins and placings at little competition’s, competed in a Burghley Young Event Horse Class, represented our riding club at area level and completed 2 little events, one of which he was 2nd in. Over the winter he is going to tick along and go to the odd party, then hopefully come spring next season he might be ready for his first BE event.

Finally there is baby Arrow. I bought her at the same time as Elfie as a yearling. She is now 2 and this year has been about handling her and taking her out on the lorry for a few little shows, including the SHBGB National Championship Show, which was a real eye opener for her, as it was so busy. She has been a little pleasure, once she discovered ow to walk down the ramp!!! And has brought home a 1st, 2nd,4th and 5th. She is a real stunner and moves beautifully, so an exciting one for the future.