HAPPY NEW YEAR to all those horse-lovers out there! As is quite standard, this time of year is quietly reflective for most people. Even though we are now in the new year, I look back at 2016 with my horses and I can’t believe what we achieved this year.
In my personal life it was a tough year which unfortunately negatively impacted my summertime with my horses. I suffer for multiple, chronic and slightly serious health complications and have done my whole life. 2016 took a toll but I tend not to dwell on the down as the highlights were phenomenal.
2016 really has been all about Storm, the year of Storm. This was my first year eventing with Storm. We have started right at the bottom of the tree of British Eventing – BE80(T). His results so far have exceeded what I thought. I would have been thrilled just to be able to do a season with our best efforts and aim to finish in the top half each time. As it was, he completed 6/6 events, the final event being a step up to BE90. He also was in the top 10 5/6 times (and only just missed it coming 11th in the other event), even more astonishing, he came in the top 5 in the final 3 events of the season. Including the BE90 at Norton Disney.
We worked so hard on dressage and flat work so I am delighted it paid off for us. He gets quietly stressed if pushed and pulled too much during dressage training so I think in my mind – ‘play the long game’ – i.e. Have patience. Do not overload him just quietly and easily ask him for a little more over the course of several weeks rather than get ‘cross and firm’ and pill it all on him. He would shut down and become unresponsive if you ask him too much, yet when it’s brought along slowly – he is smooth and light.
Storm has given me the ride of my life in the cross country phase. He has taught me how to ride effectively, conserve energy and manage both our fitnesses over this phase. He loves it, he is so keen which gives me so much confidence and experience. I am a much better rider across the country now because of him. Going forward I am now able to help him out when he needs me rather than leaving it all to him and I feel braver over bigger XC fences of which I am not used to. On that jumping vein, I have been lucky enough to have been successfully showjumping (thanks to my faithful Dice) for many years so I do feel I have some experience in this area. Here is where I think I have improved and helped Storm along as in competition so far he has only ever had 2 fences down. Not to mention he came to us with the previous owners saying he was not a good Showjumper. On the contrary, now I think he is fantastic!
He has given me so much this year and let me play out my dreams. Such an amazing pony.
Compliation of my 2016 Eventing season. **Note, the top right corner pictures of us jumping the house – the lower picture was our first ever event on the BE80 track back in April and the upper picture is us back doing the BE90 track at the last event of the season at the end of October**
Of course another wonderful highlight was the finding and arrival of Jazz. Who else is crazy enough to buy a horse without trying him first?! Only me! He’s turning out to be a pretty great choice though. He’s already come such a long way in a few months. From seeing him in July, to buying him in August, to finally having him at the farm in October to FINALLY being able to ride him in November, it has already been a challenge getting him and me together. 2017 is going to be so exciting for us. I can’t wait to see where we are in another year. I’ll take the rough with the smooth and embrace the challenges facing us on the road to becoming and eventer.
And last but never least my ever faithful, ever loving pony Dice. My little Dice qualified for trailblazers finals this year that were held at the beginning of August at Stonleigh Park. Unfortunately my luck was way down that year and it was not only Storm who missed a large chunk of his season, my darling Dice did too. He is getting older and I notice he is a little stiffer in his legs these days. He is 17 at present and has jumped so many jumps with me. I think he could still have a few good jumping years left in him if i look after him carefully and limit his jumping at home – though I am nota fan of over jumping anyway – and he adores jumping. His whole self lights up. But his welfare is the most important thing to me and I will keep him forever. Here’s to a successful 2017!
Happy New Year, from all me and my boys; Dice, Storm and Jazz.