Following a feeling of quietness and a lull on the yard towards the end of 2017, the beginning of 2018 has certainly not been quiet. With my batteries recharged, my body is having to get used to the early alarms again and eating on the hoof whilst tacking up a horse! With numerous horses out at various training sessions most days, the 2018 season was rapidly approaching and my social life had gone down hill fast!
Included in this were a couple of trips to Yorkshire for some training with Chris Bartle. We stayed there for five days in January with four horses and it was well worth the trip with all of them going very well although the inclement weather, with a fair bit of ice and snow, kept me very busy. At the end of February, despite the weather warnings, we travelled back to Yorkshire in the lorry with four horses and weren’t sure if we would make it! Luckily we timed it perfectly and were feeling a little smug when the snow hit us hard the following morning! We were stranded there for an extra couple of days – the perfect place to be snowed in. Because of the indoor facilities the horses were able to keep working normally. At 5.30 am every morning I did have to remind myself that I do love my job and it didn’t matter that it was a snowy -6 degrees outside and we were sleeping in the lorry for five days!
Kicked off the season at Tweseldown with five horses – it was great to be out, horses felt super and the team at Tweseldown did a superb job to run. All five in the placings with Freestyler 3rd. Thanks to @devonequestrian for the lovely photo. #smileforthecamera #crosscountry #eventing #horsesofinstagram
After regrouping back home and slowly warming up we headed to Tweseldown for two days for the first event of the season. The snow and cold might have gone, but instead we had to deal with rain and mud! I was starting to think that I might want to become a fair weather groom! I mentioned this to Harry but he didn’t seem to take me seriously …. We had five horses over two days and they all ran very well with placings all round.
Aldon the week after was next on our list, with seven horses from the yard competing. Whilst I was getting up at 2.30 am I’m sure most of my normal friends would just be getting in from a wild night out! Apart from it being freezing cold and snowing, the novice horses went very well. This made up for the washing off and icing in freezing cold temperatures! I have to say it was possibly one of my most demanding days eventing!
The following Saturday morning we were set to go to Gatcombe, with 5 horses loaded on the lorry, when we heard that sadly they were forced to abandon due to the heavy rain overnight. This seemed to be becoming a familiar pattern and it’s hard to take sometimes, especially when the horses need to get out, but everyone is in the same boat! Anyhow we quickly rerouted and managed to get nine horses out XC schooling instead – five of those being plaited and washed for the occasion too!
On Sunday we were pleased to hear that Gatcombe was going ahead. We only had Away Cruising (Spot) in the AI and were planning on just doing the Dressage and SJ as he went schooling the day before. He was a star and did a lovely test to score 27. He then jumped a great round in the SJ with only one pole down but, in the deep going, jumped very well. We were thrilled with him. However, I was not feeling quite so thrilled at the beginning of the day. When we arrived I took him for a graze and all of a sudden he got down and rolled! Everyone found it rather amusing and had their cameras out! I, however, was trying hard to get him up – he was having none of it. There was a fair bit of damage done and I only had 30 minutes to make him look white again. Luckily I love a challenge and am pretty used to doing things at high speed and against the clock! As you can imagine Harry found this all very entertaining too – all he had to say was “well he looks alright now”.
We made the long trip to Burnham Market, Norfolk, with five horses over the Easter weekend. We had four intermediate horses on Friday. It had been very wet but the rain held off, with Cavalier Crystal (Nell), Monbeg Medlar (Gus), Red Kite (Cooper) and Tenareze (Taz) all doing lovely tests, great SJ rounds and were all fab XC. We couldn’t have been happier with them. Four lovely horses who I love to take eventing.
We had lots of rain overnight and woke up to a lot of mud and standing water. The weather recently has become very depressing, but I find this job so rewarding when it all goes right and this weekend has proved that. Sadly, they were forced to cancel Saturday’s competition when Away Cruising (Spot) should have been competing in the 3*.
Due to the competition being abandoned a lot of people made a mad rush to get home and bolted from the stables. We found ourselves the last ones standing and stayed a little longer. We managed to have our own practice run which proved to be very worthwhile. Spot is aiming for Badminton in a few weeks time and is feeling well prepared. It was good to feel that we were still, in a way, able to complete our 3* run.
Despite the bad weather and consequent cancellation of events, its been a very busy month. We have been lucky that our horses have gone very well at the events that were not abandoned. It’s very good to see that our team’s hard work over the winter is paying off. Fingers crossed spring will be around the corner and the 2018 season can finally get going!