Three months and counting……….

I’m not quite sure where January has gone already! The weather has taken a turn for the worse with the hard frosts and although it’s nice to be dry, it makes it hard to stick to the fitness plans I had for Blue. I’m glad I brought her back into work slightly earlier than normal! I am lucky enough to be able to ride over the New Forest everyday, we are on the top of a hill, so we have some great valleys to ride up and down which is great for an overall fitness routine for myself and Blue. When it’s frosty though it not really rideable so it’s into the school for flat a bit of flat work and jumping. I keep saying to myself ” it’s alright we’ve got plenty of time!” But the Mitsubishi Cup is only 3 months away and our first BE event is in March!!!

Out riding on the New Forest on not such a bright day!

I had planned to go to Moreton Equestrian on Saturday, to do some combined training but it wasn’t to be. It was the weekend that we had the really hard frost and after having had a great lesson on Blue on the Friday, when I got back from picking the boys up from school, I washed her tail and cleaned her up, plaited and loaded the lorry with all my tack etc. My old dog Molly, who is the best veteran lorry dog ever in my opinion, had been a bit quiet and not herself all day and I was a bit worried about her. Then overnight my son Will wasn’t very well and came and woke me up at 2am, so when the alarm went off at 6am I wasn’t feeling very enthusiastic! My husband was off to market with cattle and I thought it was probably best not to drag Will and Molly out in the cold, so we had to withdraw. Sometimes it just happens like that but there’s always another day!

I have had a couple of flat lessons with Nicola Buchanan already this year, she helped me so much last year to improve my dressage, which definitely helped me qualify for Badminton. She is always pushing me along to try new things and move on and I still feel slightly nervous when I hear her car pull up as I know I will have a proper workout for the next hour, I know I’ve had a good lesson if I’m stiff the next day. I’m quite a slow burner when learning new movements and getting the feel, but Nicola always has a way of explaining it so that I understand. It generally takes me another week till I finally have the light bulb moment of “Oh I get it!”

So after having a brush up on a few things I need to improve on, I headed to Crofton Equestrian centre for a morning of BD. It was the worst morning for fog and what should take me 40 mins took me 1 1/2hrs!!  I was attempting two Novice Tests, so had learnt the first one and briefly looked at the second one, thinking I would have plenty of time when I got there to go over it. The first test went ok, Blue decided that E needed to be spooked at everytime we passed it, to alert me to the fact that the board was slightly out of line with the other one! Luckily the judge couldn’t feel what I did and gave us 68.7% to win my section. Now to the next test, I had about 20 mins to properly learn it, I could feel myself starting to panic as I just couldn’t remember parts of it, I was nearly about to withdraw and quickly make my exit home. But I made myself stay and for once asked a lady,who was watching, if she would be kind enough to call the test for me. I’m deaf in my left ear, which is why I learn my tests, as half the time I can’t hear what the callers are saying especially if it’s windy. I was really glad she did as I would have definitely gone wrong! It again went ok overall with little mistakes here and there, we managed a 65.1% and won our section again. Very good although slightly stressful morning! 

BD at Crofton Equestrian 

This weekend I went to Sparsholt College and had another go at some long arena test and we went a lot better, after another go at Novice 39 we managed a 70.1% and I remembered the whole test without it being called, told you I’m a slow burner! We also did a prelim 15 and scored a 72%, I was really pleased with our progress. 

It’s funny, through the winter months there are quite a lot of Eventer out competing at dressage, You can generally pick out the Eventer in the warm up, compared to the more glamourous sparkly dressage professionals and one of the things I love about eventing is that, at events, riders chat away to each other whilst going to the show jumping arenas or the Xc warm up, so it didn’t take me long to strike up a conversation with a lady who like me was out trying to brush up on the dressage phase, but remarking how we would much rather be going cross country! 

As well as having a top class dressage instructor nearby I am also lucky enough to have Four star Eventer Kirsty Johnston from the Landford Common Stud, who are breeders of all the very talented Opposition horses, about 15 mins up the road from me. I’ve had a couple of jump lessons with her so far this year, which I have really enjoyed. As well as working on my crappy left leg, distances and keeping Blue in a forward rhythm all the way round the course, I have also been able to ask her lots of questions about what I should do and where I should maybe go before Badminton and Kirsty’s experience and knowledge of eventing has been invaluable. 

After an evening of learning the dance to “strip the willow” with the school mums at the annual Burns night, on Saturday, I was up Bright and early Sunday for a trip to Wellington Equestrian to compete in the BE arena eventing competition. It’s much like the JAS competition except that you don’t get judged on style and it’s timed from start to finish. After Kirsty lesson in the week Blue was feeling up for it and warmed up fab. She jumped a brilliant round and it felt good, we cut some corners and came inside fences and left everything up! Unlike the JAS competition a few weeks ago where we were too slow this time we were too fast!!! We ended up 8th out of 53 which I was pleased with. Me and the dogs had the tunes on in the lorry on the way home, needless to say I was in bed Sunday night shortly after putting the boys to bed!

I’m trying to stay organised and get things in place so I don’t have to think about it and with the BE calendar now open and in full swing and I made my first entry into Aston Le Walls in March, so I had a date to work towards. But since then Aston has been oversubscribed and I have been Balloted, so it’s back to the drawing board for plan B. I have a Xc booked up at Tweseldown in February hopefully the weather will be kind to us. Me and Davina have been seeing a lot of each other while I jump and thump around on the lounge floor trying to get fitter doing her DVD, much to my boys amusement and the spare blowup bed has been ordered in the January sales so we can accommodate everyone in the lorry in May. With all the posts popping up on social media about the Mitsubishi cup and Badminton its all becoming quite real! 


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