Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

Back home after a fantastic weekend representing Carleton Riding Club at the BRC Combined Championships.

We’d qualified in the 80cm Senior Team. Now you may remember, we had a bit of a mare at the Qualifiers and got there by default. So I was determined that we would hold our own at the Champs.

This was our second Champs. The first one wasn’t our finest hour. So again, I wanted to show we’re making progress at these big events.

So pleased to report we did! The Team came 10th overall. And we put a score on the board. OK so it was still the discard score but we did good.

Buddy was rather apprehensive and so was I wasn’t sure which Buddy I was going to get. When he had a spook on the way down as someone came out of a port-a-loo, I feared the worst. But after a good warm-up he soon settled and was flying the practise jumps.

Soon it was our turn to go. He was so busy shying at a fence, he took an ages to lock on to number 1. It was a tricky SJ course with 3 planks on a half circle and a bounce!! And lots of twist. I rode him forward with determination and trusted him to jump. And jump he did! We flew round in a fast time and a clear round.

Then it was off onto the XC element. He flew the first two, then had a nappy moment towards 3. I wasn’t having any of it!

We were clear till he slipped coming round the corner and lost impulsion. I know I didn’t ride it well so picked up 10 faults the refusal. Cleared it at the second attempt though. Knowing I’d had a stop, I took my foot off the gas. But he still came home with plenty in the tank!

Absolutely thrilled with my little boy today. It was a huge step up for us and he rose to the occasion. And yes, I burst into tears when we were done.

It’s taken blood, sweat and tears (not to mention the bumps and bruises) to get this result today. Not to mention the training and guidance I’ve received from some amazing trainers. Being away at camp definitely seemed to do the trick.

Now I know he can do it, there are no excuses.

Massive thanks to my wingwoman Sam for chauffeuring us, supporting us and listening to me bang on about how proud I was of Buddy. And to my team mates for making it such a fun weekend. Wonderful to feel so supported by a lovely club.

I know I’m not the best rider and Buddy isn’t the best horse, but today I felt like we were more than good enough to be there.

We shall sleep well tonight.


Easter Rider

Buckle up people, this could be a long one. Buddy and I headed over to Blackwater for a spot of SJ as it was Carousel’s show. I’d entered the 70cm and 80cm – all good training for the Champs.

It struck me as I was driving there. Buddy has only ever jumped in the grass ring as part of an ODE. So doing two rounds in that ring would be a new thing for him. My aim was to have fun and see how it went. It’s only our second jumping competition of the year.

Buddy warmed up slightly feral. His allergies are back so he was throwing his head around a bit and tanking off round the collecting ring. Still he was flying the practise jump and felt really good.

Not sure how, but I managed to miss the course walk again. I think I was tacking up. It’s definitely one for me to work on. It was another twisty turny course with some interesting lines. But seemed to be riding OK.

Soon it was our turn and we entered – me determined, Buddy anxious. Tried my best to stay calm and keep him the same. Positive Pip was in full force as I coached him the entire way round. Still I got a few more fans who commented on how wonderful it was to hear me chatting away to him in such a positive manner. Even when it didn’t go to plan.

We ended up on 16 faults. But to be honest, I was thrilled to make it round the whole course!!

Bit of a breather till the 80cm. Buddy was in heaven being able to munch on the lush grass.

Eventually we headed back for the next class. This time, I’d had a serious word with myself. And Bartholomew, my chimp who’d come out to play. He was firmly put back in his box. And it seemed that a bit of grass and Buddy was much more willing to listen to me. He warmed up nicely this time.

We popped one last practice jump before we headed into the ring. I didn’t realise someone had put it up to 90cm! So we were both a little surprised when we came round the corner.

In the ring, it was a much calmer and fluid affair. I brought Buddy back to trot when needed as I’d decided to go for a slow and steady round. Imagine my surprise when we finished with a clear round!

There were only two clear rounds in the class. And the other one was by a 5* eventer on a young horse. I’ll take that any day!!

Can’t tell you how chuffed I am. Buddy isn’t the easiest horse to ride. And I’m not the best rider. But today it came together in a wonderful way.

Team player

Today saw our return to Carleton Riding Club team competitions. This time Combined Challenge (a few SJ, followed by a few XC jumps) at Horseheath.

It was also our first jumping competition of 2023. I’d love to say that my contribution to the team was vast. Sadly it wasn’t our day. I know why, so that a good thing. Once again, my team mates were awesome. So we’ve qualified for another championships by just turning up.

I got today a bit wrong. I got my timings wrong so missed the course walk. Learnt the course by eye. But that meant I wasn’t clear on the lines or how the course actually rode.

Watched too many go meaning my warm up was shorter than I’d usually do. Still Buddy gave me a great feeling over the practise jumps. It’s the first time we’ve jumped SJ on grass for a long time. The footing was a tad slippery after all the rain we’ve had.

We entered the start box and headed off toeards the first jump. Buddy flew it. So I was thinking it could be a good day. Then he slipped round the corner to number 2 and I got my line totally wrong to number 3. Still he cleared both. But by the time we got to number 4, the combination of my very dodgy line and an evil filler were too much for Buddy. First stop. Kicking myself more than him, we got over it at the second attempt.

Regrouped over number 5. Then another evil filler at number 6, two stops there and it was all over for us. Gutted, I patted Buddy and walked out of the arena.

There were lots of positives though. I didn’t get lost finding the venue. My new sticky competition riding tights were super comfy and did the trick. Buddy dealt with a very slippery and busy warm up. I knew the course. And the jumps we did do felt good.

It’s another new venue for us. And another new format. I now have two months to get the practise before the Champs. I’ve booked onto a XC clinic next Sunday and am forming a plan of how to find as many evil fillers as possible to jump.

So in May, it’ll be back to Aston Le Walls we go! At least I’ve been there before.

Competition prep

My new competition sticky jods have arrived. A winter thermal pair and a lightweight pair. All part of the master plan to crack dressage (and competing).

Also part of the master plan is sorting out a snaffle for Buddy as he’s been unsettled in his mouth. Today we tried a different one and there was a definite improvement. Got a couple more to try too so fingers crossed we find one he likes.

I’ve also ordered some meal replacement shakes to try and sort out my nutrition issues. One thing I’ve realised is that I’m not setting either of us up for success by not looking after myself. So making a conscious effort to improve.

Just need to enter some competitions now….

Pretty trotting

After a longer than expected hiatus, Buddy and I entered the boards today for a spot of pretty trotting. I worked out that our last pure dresssge competition was December 2019. I’ve done camp tests and ODEs since then though.

So this was a big deal for us. Well me. We’ve been working hard on our flatwork so I was hoping to see some improvements. But as I drove there, I told myself today was about having fun. And if I got over 60% I’d be thrilled.

Things didn’t run smoothly this morning. It took me longer to plait and the Buddymobile needed another jump start again. But we were off only about 10 mins behind schedule. The A11 was crawling along. So I was behind when I arrived at WHW.

Still got tacked up and onboard in super quick time. I’ve been riding a lot in sticky jods recently, so to switch back to non-sticky took a bit of adjusting. I slide quite violently when I asked for canter. Poor Buddy wasn’t sure what to make of it all!

Still we entered and the test went rather smoothly. I was really pleased with Buddy as he’s only ever been to WHW for jumping. He did all the moves at roughly the right places. And didn’t spook at anything.

Really pleased with 64.21% (6th place). And we got a 7.5 for our first centre line.

Then it was a bit of a wait for the second test. I lost track of time chatting so Buddy had a very short warm up. It was all going rather well till my brain decided to go AWOL and I totally blanked. Error of course for me then. Like I can afford to throw marks away. Doh!

Picked it up again and finished the test. I was expecting a very low mark. So 58.46% wasn’t too shabby (10th).

All in all there were lots of positives to take from today. And I know where I need to improve.

First thing I need to do is buy some competition sticky jods. Then I need to sort out my nutrition as I felt the tank empty. Two bits of toast isn’t enough it seems for a full day out.…

Clipboard power

Now those of you who know me well, know I love a clipboard. So this afternoon I was in my element with an A3 one!!

I was stewarding at Carleton Riding Club’s last show of 2022. We started behind, but soon caught up time. And even ended early! I feel that I ran a rather tight ship. Thankfully all of the competitors and horses were happy to be yelled at by me. It seems my voice carries across the warm up rather effectively.

Of course, I’d rather be competing. But this was the next best thing today. Well done everyone.

Comes together

There are many times when I question my life choices. A 4:30am alarm call on a Sunday morning is definitely one of them! Think Buddy was questioning them too when I turned up at stupid o’clock. He looked a little confused to be honest. Breakfast on the Buddymobile made it more appealing.

We were heading off to the Suffolk Equestrian Centre in Bury St Edmunds for RC Arena Eventing. Another new venue for us. And our first time doing Arena Eventing. But not our first time representing Carleton RC.

I wasn’t sure how today was going to go. We haven’t had the best build up if I’m honest. I’d dropped back to 70cm to give Buddy a really confident run. It proved to be the right decision.

After walking the course, I felt really positive about it. There wasn’t anything that I felt would be an issue. But this is Buddy. So anything was on the cards. And there were lots of questions. Including a water splash.

I had to stop watching the early rounds as there were so many eliminations and issues. So I told Buddy we were there to have fun!

He warmed up like a dream. Then when it was our turn, he wasn’t sure about the white barriers or standing in the rain by the ring. In the ring, everything came together! My little boy flew round! Even when he wasn’t sure, he trusted me and stormed round for a clear round, including the 80cm joker fence.

Flew a little bit too much as we were 8 second under the optimum time. Still good enough to take 5th place individually (out of 49) and to help the team take 4th place (out of 12).

To say I came out with tears in my eyes is an understatement. And the biggest smile you can imagine. Days like today are the reward for the hard work, bruises and disappointments.

When it comes together, it’s worth more than gold.

Camp close

Well that’s another BHS Camp done! And another brilliant one. Buddy was an absolute superstar! He tried his hardest and did everything asked.

He was also a complete piggy and hoovered up food like it was going out of fashion. As a result, he had by far the most disgusting stable. Shame there wasn’t a prize for that as he’d definitely win!!

Still we did come home with more rosettes to add to our collection. A 7th place for show jumping. And 8th place in dressage.

The latter was quite a shock as I was the first one in and I went wrong. I’d never been the first rider in, ever, and didn’t realise how much I watch the rider in front. Totally brain fart. Still there was a lot to like apparently, so that’s good.

The frustrating thing is that I’d ran the test in my lesson this morning. That was just over an hour before. Doh!

Oh well, placings were the cherry on the cake after a brilliant camp! We will both sleep well tonight!!

More firsts

Well today has been one of more firsts. Buddy and I made our debut representing Carleton Riding Club. We were in two teams no less! And first time jumping at Geldeston.

First up was Style Show Jumping. I’m going to be honest here, I’d never heard of Style SJ before. Rarely has the word ‘style’ been used in a complimentary way about my jumping. Well apart from being told I’m an elegant faller… So I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.

To come away with 6th place was a huge surprise. Especially as it was a challenge getting round the course. Buddy wasn’t feeling jumping this morning. Still we jumped all the jumps (not necessarily first time) and we put a score on the board for the team. Thankfully the other members were much more stylish so the team ended up in 3rd place.

Then onto SJ and the 80cm team. I took a jumping whip with me this time and made sure that Buddy was moving off my leg in the warm up. He was a bit shocked when I gave him a little tap. But was soon flying the practise jumps.

A couple of feral moments in the ring with two run outs and a pole down. Disappointed with it but I know I overrode it. Still we started together and finished together, even when I lost a stirrup and had to jump the double without it.

Another regroup before going back into the second round. A bigger and longer track this time. Oh my goodness, Buddy was so much more confidence. I let it flow and we were clear to the last two. Sadly we had them both down. But I was thrilled to finish on a much better note.

So imagine my surprise when I heard our team won! Again, grateful that the other team members were much better riders and all had double clears. We were definitely making up the numbers today (as both our rounds were the discard score). But that’s OK. We did it!

Sadly I’m now sporting a black eye where I head butted a metal corner in the lorry. That’s definitely not a first for me.…

Still trying

Well our first ODE of 2022 wasn’t this shining success that I’d hoped for. I withdrew before XC as Buddy wasn’t right.

Dressage was an unusually calm affair. Except he didn’t feel like he was travelling in the trot. In comparison, canter felt amazing. Still we did all the right moves, in the right place and I was pleased with how it went.

I was disappointed with a low score of 44. But I can understand it having read the sheet. Got 7’s for the canter and walk work. But 4-6 for the trot. Canter is usually our worse pace. Go figure!!

Then onto SJ. He rode in lovely and was taking me into the fences. So set off feeling good. Sadly Buddy went to pieces in the ring. He hasn’t been like that for ages. Mr Nappy Pants was back in full force. Got him round but it was a bit of a battle. The positives are that I did get him round and we left most of the fences up.

Wasn’t sure what to do as he just didn’t seem right. I know he can go a bit feral. But this seemed different. Decided to take him up to the XC warm up and see how he felt. Even if I used it as a schooling round, it would be beneficial.

Well that was the theory. Buddy was charging around, not listening and wouldn’t trot. When I did get trot, it was clear there was a problem. So I withdrew. Better to save him for another day.

He’s sound in walk and canter but trot isn’t level. All very odd. I felt every inch of him when we got back and there’s nothing obvious. I’ll trot him up tomorrow and see how he looks. There’s something going on with him. Just not sure what. All healing vibes gratefully received right now.