We had a fantastic week away at Burghley Horse Trials. We left Church Farm on Tuesday morning to go for a quick Show Jumping lesson first. It was quite exciting driving off knowing that we were finally on our way to another 4* and we were keeping everything crossed for a good week ahead.
We arrived late afternoon/early evening on Tuesday where I got everything unpacked and Spot settled into his new home for the next week. It was great to catch up with friends on the circuit and there seemed to be a great buzz around the place. Spot was rather excited to be out and somehow I think he knew he was somewhere special! It was a lovely feeling being back at a 4* again with him and even more special knowing I have looked after him from a 4yr old.
It’s safe to say Spot was feeling fresh and raring to go as he was full of beans at the first horse inspection and he had certainly made a name for himself before the competition had even started! We were hoping he wasn’t going to be auditioning for the Spanish riding school in his dressage test the following day though!
During a three day event it’s my job to make sure that I stick to my usual routine with plenty of walking, grazing and quiet time and most all making sure Spot is happy and well at all times.
We had an early draw which meant we did our dressage test on the Thursday morning. We were not quite sure how fresh he was going to be after his performance at the trot up the day before but we were just praying he would keep his cool and do his best and gosh did he do just that!
We were over the moon with his test and he produced some really lovely work to score 29.5 to lie in 3rd place after the first day of dressage. The exciting thing is is that there is much more to come in this phase as he keeps continuing to grow from strength to strength.
As I was walking around the stables on Saturday morning I could just feel the tension and nerves and it felt like the calm before the storm! I always like to make sure that I am organised in advance. I have my XC bag that is packed with spare tack, shoes, studs, towels, grease, rugs, drinks, etc and all my buckets and sponges. I also tape my bridle up too. At big 3 days Harry and I choose the studs together. I always feel that your rider is the one who has walked the course 5 times and the one who will be riding so it’s only appropriate that they have the final decision on which ones to use. I allow myself plenty of time to get tacked up so I don’t have to rush. Things can always go wrong and you need to be prepared for that and when you’re feeling nervous the last thing you want to be doing is rushing and panicking!
My nerves don’t usually hit me until we are down at the warm up where you know it’s out of your control and you just don’t know what will happen. You just want them to come home safe and sound and equally you know how much work has gone into producing these horses for these big occasions and are just willing them to do well. I’m happy to say that Spot nailed his XC round and flew round only 4 seconds over the time.
We were amazed with how fast he was and how well he recovered. He had his ears pricked the whole way round and just kept in a beautiful rhythm. The relief and buzz and tears of joy from everyone involved when they crossed the finish line is something I can’t describe. We just couldn’t believe it and were so proud. Harry and Spot did a fantastic job and looked pure class out there. I felt like one very proud mother!
Straight after the XC is when my job starts. Once Spot was back at the stables I iced his legs and gave him a proper bath with shampoo and checked him over. He had a drink, walk, graze and a feed. We also put him onto fluids to give him as much energy and hydrate him as much as possible. It’s important that you let the horses have there down time but equally give them enough walking and icing so that they don’t stiffen up. I would then give them a trot a couple of hours later to see how they are looking and continue with this routine throughout the day and into the evening if needs be.
Sunday morning arrived and we were were lying in 4th place going into the Show Jumping. Something that was totally unexpected but a nice feeling! Thankfully Spot wasn’t quite so fresh at the trot up but still on his toes which was lovely and refreshing to see actually considering what he went round yesterday and how fast he went! He flew through and it was down to the final phase!
The show jumping has always been Spot’s weak phase and Harry has worked very hard over the last few months. We were delighted with how he jumped. We had all said whatever happens in the Show Jumping on Sunday didn’t matter as he was just phenomenal XC but he is improving day by day and jumped really well and tried so hard to finish 6th at his 2nd Burghley. I still can’t believe it and am so pleased for everyone involved. He is only 11 and has his whole career ahead of him. It is a huge achievement to even get to Burghley let alone complete and come 6th! Each 4* he does he seems to be getting better and better and we are just so excited about him. He was close to winning this time round so I do believe one day he could win a 4*. Spot has suddenly made a name for himself after his epic XC round making it look effortless and enjoyed every single minute of it as well as Harry!
It’s always lovely when the horses arrive home happy and he has come back from the experience a better horse. He is now loving the amount of carrots and apples that seem to be piling up outside his stable and knows he is king of the yard and is a total super star!
He will have a very well deserved holiday now and hopefully restrain from putting on 100kilos like he did last year! It’s always a massive team effort and I am very grateful to everyone at home for their hard work and support day in day out helping Harry and I get Spot to Burghley in the best possible shape. The emotions and buzz that surround this sport when things go to plan is so special and for Harry and Spot to pull it out the bag when they needed too was just incredible to watch. I feel very privileged to be working alongside one of the best riders and horses on the circuit.
The long hours and hard work involved by everyone has certainly paid off! It’s safe to say we have an incredible, true 4* horse that is learning all the time and going from strength to strength which is very exciting for the future!