British Riding Clubs National Championships

Last weekend was absolutely wonderful.  I was of course very nervous but definitely excited too.  I love being part of a team, although I do worry about getting everything right!

It was fun to pack everything into the lorry and we had a surprisingly easy run up to Lincoln – six hours in total with only about an hour stuck in traffic.  We arrived at lunch time, got the horses checked in and settled whilst our camp was set up, then sat down for lunch.  It was very civilised!

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My favourite part of the day was hacking the horses to stretch their legs and help us get our bearings.  The competition has grown a bit since I was last there!  I also walked the style jumping course which actually helped to settle my nerves – fear of the unknown is far worse than fear of the known.  Plus, once I knew what I was facing I could visualise myself riding round the course – and getting it right!

The next morning it was all hands on deck to get the senior horses ready.  Dressage was first for us so I went up to support my team and also managed to watch the first few style jumping rounds.  These did not fill me with confidence as the first four riders all had refusals at the first fence and the first two were both eliminated by fence three.  In reality though, it was really useful – it made me very determined to get over the first fence if I did nothing else.

Before long I was up on my horse and ready to go.  Murphy can get worried and tense at shows but – apart from calling desperately for his friends – he felt remarkably relaxed.  We were soon into the ring and saluting the judge – 0Murphy had to call out a greeting too!

Our round didn’t feel all that tidy – which matters in style jumping – and we got a couple of incorrect canter leads but we were at least jumping clear.  Murphy had a good look at fence one but there was no way I was going to stop at it!  After that he didn’t look at anything and was jumping beautifully

Then we came to the penultimate fence.  We were only a couple of strides out when it blew over and we had to circle away whilst it was rebuilt.  We jumped it on our second attempt but sadly knocked the last pole down.  Its impossible to tell how much we were affected by the break in rhythm but I was nevertheless thrilled to have got round respectably.

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I have no pictures of me riding yet but I will share them when they arrive.

Having waited for the class to finish I found that we had come 16th out of 50 in our arena and 30th out of 108 overall.  I was delighted – at a national championship and my first attempt that wasn’t bad at all.

Sunday was another busy day helping our junior riders in their classes.  It is great to be part of a team, where everyone supports each other and the delights of success are shared.  The success wasn’t missing either – the lorry had a good decoration of rosettes and sashes for our long journey home.  It was a wonderful weekend and I will be trying very hard to make it happen again.

Nationals Bound

In July I went to our regional showjumping and style jumping qualifier for the British Riding Clubs National Championships.  The showjumping did not go quite to plan as we had one refusal and  twenty three time faults in the first round which clearly put us well out of the running.

We had to go into our second round almost immediately so I gave myself a stern talking to and tried to push my horse forward more.  We had a pole down but were at least inside the time and it felt like a much better round.  Obviously I came nowhere individually but we did come fourth as a team which was some comfort.

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Picture credit: Indy Equine Photography

We moved on to style jumping which I had never done before so I was quite nervous about it.  Especially as the horse I was riding is inclined to pick up the wrong canter lead on the left rein.  However, this time we got all the right leads, the course felt nice and flowing and we jumped clear.  All I could do then was cheer on the rest of my team and wait.

I ended up coming second which was very exciting and totally unexpected.  The person who beat me was on the winning team so I knew there was a chance I could be invited to the Nationals as an individual but I tried very hard not to get my hopes up.  However, two weeks ago I received an invitation and so we are going to Nationals after all.  When I heard I was so thrilled I actually squealed and dropped my phone.

I have been up once before – fifteen years ago when I was a junior and got eliminated in the second round of the show jumping.  Hopefully I will at least manage to finish the competition this time!

The Championships are next weekend (I am both very excited and very nervous at the moment!) so I will have no blog post next Sunday.  I will update you on the whole experience the following week.  Fingers crossed it’s a good one!

Blair Castle Europeans 2015

I spent last weekend at the European Eventing Championships at Blair Castle.  I have been planning the trip for over a year and it was so good to finally get there.

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We hired a campervan so we could stay on site.  It is the first time I have done so and it was fantastic being able to wander around when most people hadn’t arrived/had gone home.

Obviously we had to show our support for Team GB.

Obviously we had to show our support for Team GB.

That included my nails!

That included my nails!

It also meant that I got to see the opening ceremony which was very exciting.  The two children reading ‘Tam o’ Shanter’ were particularly good.

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I managed to watch very nearly every dressage test, mostly from the top of the stands which gave an excellent view.  It was rather chilly though as it was very windy!

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The first day was especially good as the Brits were doing so well.  I always find it rather comforting when watching the professionals to find that they don’t get all eights and nines either.

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Cross country day was wet.  Really wet.  I loved the course and thought it was very interesting but it was a shame that the weather meant bits had to be changed.  One of my favourite fences was the haggis which I never saw jumped as it had been removed by the time we got that far.

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It was completely understandable though – it was hard enough walking down that slope, never mind riding it.  The neeps and tatties were still good and I loved the fact that there was a baked potato stall next to the tatties (they provided the real tatties on the fence).

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It's a long way down!

It’s a long way down!

There were so many good fences I can’t possibly describe them all but here are a few of my favourites.

The Castle Wall and Cannon

The Castle Wall and Cannon

The Stags Heads

The Stags Heads

The Firth of Forth Crossings

The Firth of Forth Crossings

We waited here to watch a few extra riders in the hope that someone would take the direct route and I was thrilled when Izzy Taylor came along and jumped it beautifully.

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Of course the last fence – the Final Fling – was pretty special too.

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Show jumping day was thankfully dry (we had uncovered seats) and the course was interesting to watch – there weren’t too many clear rounds!

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The Queen came to present the medals which made it extra special.

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It was a shame we didn’t win but the Germans were just too good.  They seem to be unstoppable at the moment!

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I had such a fantastic time and it was worth every bit of planning and the (very long) journey to get there.  I only wish it happened more often and as relatively close to home.

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