The year started with Lisci (7yo) working well towards her debut at Advanced Medium. Mimi (Rusalka, 4yo mare) was being brought back into work after having four months off with an injury because she an accident in the field. Luckily she has the most fantastic temperament so this was a very straight forward process which involved a lot of walking for the first few weeks, with the end goal to have her fit and ready to compete in the young horse qualifiers in the spring.
Lisci won both her Medium tests in late January with great scores to qualify her for the Medium open at the Summer Regional Championships in August, this win set her up nicely for the Winter Regional Championships in mid-February. The Winter Regionals were a big success; Lisci qualified for both the Elementary open (1st 71.77%) and Medium restricted (2nd 69.28%). However, the weather conditions were atrocious; it was blowing a gale and pouring with rain but Lisci excelled herself in spite of this.
Lisci made her Advanced Medium debut in late march and won both tests, one with 70% and all her changes were very good gaining 7s and 8s. I was very pleased with how she coped with the step up. This meant she had enough points from this one outing to qualify for the Advanced Medium Restricted at the Summer Regional Championships, next stop Winter Championships in April.
The Winter Championships at Hartpury didn’t go to plan as she got a bit tense and tight and just didn’t feel herself. I just couldn’t get her to relax and the roof was creaking in one of the tests to add to my problems. She also added a flying leap and I forgot one of my tests! In the end we managed 9th in the Elementary Open and 11th in the Medium Restricted, never mind – you learn from experience!
We had some challenges after the winter championships with Lisci as she was slightly lame after the championships which could have explained her below par performance. I feared the worst so she had six weeks off, the vet came out and x-rayed her stifles and found nothing which was a relief. There were no problems to any of her ligaments or tendons so we were still unsure why she was lame. The farrier came out to put back shoes on her for first time when he found a very deep seated abscess in her hind hoof; to our relief this could have been there for months so she had a further week off. He came out the following week to put the shoes back on and found another abscess but this time in her other hind hoof, so she had another week off but at least we had found the problem, she was now sound. All in all she had about nine weeks off and with the Summer Regional Championships at beginning of August, I was in a race against time to get her fit as it was already late June when she was brought back into slow work.
In the meantime it was the turn of the babies, Mimi went to her first show as a young horse qualifier in April, she behaved impeccably, nothing phased her. She just went a bit within herself so was rather behind my leg – she just needed more confidence but gained a good score of 75.4% giving her 5th place. A new horse arrived from MX Sport horses, Chilli, a lovely 16hh 4yo mare who had just been backed and needed training for a career in dressage, she was sent to me to produce to sell.
I took both of the 4 year old’s to do a prelim at beginning of May which was Chillies first outing and I had only had her for 2 weeks. She produced a nice test but just was a bit wobbly and green, however I was thrilled with her as she was 4th and Mimi won with 77%. The next outing for both of them was a Shearwater Young Dressage Horse Qualifier a couple of weeks later and both horses preformed with credit and were well placed.
Following this came the Badminton Young Horse Finals. Mimi had been improving at home and had enjoyed a week off after her last outing, which she felt stronger for. The warm up was on grass and then I had to hack her to the indoor school to do the test. This was by far the biggest atmosphere she had encountered as there were lots of people seated at one end which very close to the arena and on the judges table there were lots of flowers with banners on the wall; all very scary for a 4yo. She was amazing and didn’t look at anything, just went a little bit within herself but it was the first time I had done a test on her without a whip which we weren’t allowed as it was a final. I couldn’t have asked any more from her as we finished 23rd out of 45 starters. The class was for 4 and 5 year olds and both age groups were judged together.
Lisci was now back in light work but it was still very much touch and go if she’d be fit enough to compete at the regionals, especially having only competed in 2 Advanced Medium tests!
I had a fantastic week at the beginning of August. I took both Mimi and Chilli to do a Shearwater Young Horse Qualifier and they both scored personal bests. Mimi was superb and won with a whopping 90.05% and had qualified for the National Championships. I was elated and her owner, who couldn’t be there, was over the moon.
Next was the turn of Lisci five days later at the Summer Regional Championships. I really didn’t know what to expect as she’d been off for so long and hadn’t competed since April. We had a really heavy shower just before I needed to warm her up; very heavy rain and golf ball sized hail stones hit the test arena leaving standing water so I was very concerned as she’s not good with puddles. There was one on the centre line but to her credit she knuckled down and produced a lovely flowing test with a couple of extra flying changes thrown in for good measure. We won with 71.4% which was an amazing result considering it was her third ever Advanced Medium. I was on the podium again – she really does produce her best at championships. Next was the Medium open where she was a bit more tense and had a couple of big mistakes. It was a very hot class with most of the top riders competing, but we were 6th (69.92%) which wasn’t quite enough to get us a wild card for the National Championships but at least we had qualified for the Advanced Medium Restricted at the championships. Two out of three horses qualified for the Nationals which was a great achievement.
Next the National Championships were upon us. Lisci was competing on the Thursday and Mimi on the Saturday so I had booked stabling for both horses for the night before they competed so they could settle in and relax. It was a good job I did as I was on at 8:47am with Lisci and 8:51am with Mimi!
Unfortunately I went over to ride Mimi on the Tuesday of the Nationals and found her to be lame; we thought that she may have slipped in the field and pulled a muscle so got the physio out to treat her and give her every chance of being able to compete. She did improve each day so I took her to the Nationals on the Friday and had a sit on her there but decided she wasn’t sound enough to compete. I was gutted but she’s a horse with a big future there was no point in jeopardising that.
Lisci, on the other hand, was in great spirits as work at home with her had been going very well. I took her up there on the Wednesday evening and rode her there and gave her a bit of a stretching session to relax her muscles ready for the next day’s competition. On the morning of the competition I had a 5am start. The morning started with me feeding her and mucking her out before I took her for a short walk and started plaiting her up. I took my time to get them perfect, gave her a brush and then went back to the lorry to get myself ready. I sent Ed, my boyfriend, and the lorry back up to the stables with the tack to keep Lisci company. I was all ready and went back up to the stables to tack up and apply the all-important finishing touches, quarter marks, baby oil around her mouth and eyes and hoof oil; she looked stunning and I hoped her looks would match her performance! She was very on her toes to the warm up arena passaging all the way, we got through the tack check and into the warm up arena. Dan Greenwood was their waiting for me; it was very nice of him to warm me up. The warm up went well and we finished it off by riding a few canter centre lines in to a square straight halt then we were called. As it was so early in the morning there weren’t that many people around to watch our test although there was still an atmosphere, I had 5 judges, there were hospitality boxes down one side, grand stands down the other two sides and a large screen on the other. The arena was decorated with lots of flowers but luckily none of this phased Lisci. She performed a good test – all the flying changes were spot on. However, she could have been more supple through the right shoulder in and right half pass. We made two big mistakes which I thought would cost us the class as she lost rhythm and broke in the medium trot and cantered in the trot work! I really wasn’t sure what the judges would make of the test as there were some very good bits but also some bits that could be better and had two big mistakes. After the test I stayed at the stables getting Lisci washed off and sorted out. My mum came rushing over letting me know that we were in the lead – they must have liked what they saw; 69.91% with about eight combinations to go. I kept my eye on the scores coming in all falling short of my score, I went over to the scoreboard to wait for the last score to come in and I heard it over the score keepers radio and it was lower than mine, we had won!
My mum and Ed were very emotional hugging me and jumping up and down – it was amazing, my first National title. All I had to do now was get us both ready for the mounted prize giving. I was a bit unsure how she would be with a rug on and the Rosette on her bridle. She was very good with the rug but was not keen on the rosette but she did get used to it! I couldn’t get her in the arena at first but when she finally obliged she passaged in and then got spooked by the prizes that we were being presented with and started going backwards at great speed. I gave her a smack so she sat back on her haunches and launched herself through the air, which kept the crowd amused but scared the sponsors with the prizes. They were rather wary of her but nonetheless I was presented with a huge bottle of Moët champagne which I shared later with all the team and owners from Dan Greenwoods. We did two amazing laps of honour; Lisci was very lit up and all of it was done in extended canter. I did try to trot at one point but couldn’t! Lisci was so pleased with herself – she’s such an intelligent horse. Lisci had earned herself a well-deserved holiday while I was on holiday for ten days.
Mimi has not been in work since then but is sound now. I just thought I would give her time to mature, I will bring her back into work in January with the 5yo classes and Novice her targets for 2015.
Lisci enjoyed a good break, I took her to the KWPN grading at the end of October where she was awarded a Keur predicate which was the highest she could have been given. This makes her very valuable as a broodmare should anything unthinkable happen, or I do an embryo transfer from her which I would love to do but it is very expensive.
I qualified Lisci for the Advanced Medium open at the Winter Regional Championships and got a win in both classes at Summerhouse on 28th November with 71% and 72%. Now it is time to crack on with her winter training for her debut at PSG in the new year and maybe a small tour internationally and another national title would be nice.
I couldn’t have achieved all I have this year without the support of everyone at Global Herbs and their fantastic products, everyone at team Greenwood, my family and especially Ed who drives me to every competition and is there to support me. All the success is a team effort and all my horses who are amazing – I love them to bits.