“So I set a few goals at the beginning of the year, ambitious but perfectly achievable ones, the first being winning at a premier league, the second qualifying directly for the National Championships both at PSG and Inter 1 and thirdly to be selected for Great Britain to compete in a CDI at small tour level.
Wow… I managed to achieve all three of those things with my fabulous horse Celicia! She’s the most amazing horse to ride she’s so intelligent and powerful, sometimes these two things can get use both into trouble with her flare and exuberance in the arena! She really is the apple of my eye and I love her to bits and she knows it.
The hard training continued in the new year with Lisci getting stronger and more established in the small tour work and Rabbit learning to find her balance and control her power, I did feel the lack of control on a few occasions! I went through a six week period where she bronked me off every other Saturday without fail! I was a bit bruised and battered, especially when she had me off onto a semi frozen surface, but nothing that didn’t heal within a few days. I’m pleased to say she hasn’t done that since!
The year as always starts off quietly, I didn’t have any winter regionals to do so my year didn’t get going until Myerscough Premier League in March. I took both horses Celicia (Lisci) and Rabbit (Hibimona) on the long journey up north. Rabbit had been to her first ever competition a few weeks earlier, a prelim which she won with over 75% what a way for her to start her competitive career.
Myerscough was Lisci’s first competition since September so needless to say she was a little fresh hence a rather tense test with quite a few mistakes so not a great mark. She was much better the following day for a decent score over 67% for 8th place in the PSG. This was the first time Rabbit had stayed away at a competition, she was pretty well behaved in the stable apart from digging up all the stones/gravel into the bed. I swear she was trying to tunnel her way out! She wasn’t that straight forward to ride and was quite nappy in the arena which didn’t help our mark in the 4yo young horse qualifier, but still a decent score considering at 72.4%. It was a good trip, I learnt quite a bit about Rabbit and it was the first time she’d shown any nappy behaviour.
Rabbit went through a phase after Myerscough of being quite naughty and nappy at home so I spent some time working her through these issues, it wasn’t a quick fix but we got there in the end. She’s such a lovely horse with a bright future so well worth taking time with her, I knew she would come good as she had been so good as a just backed 3yo.
I had some fantastic results from the next few premier leagues with Lisci. At Keysoe Premier League I entered her in both PSG classes the one on the first day was a disaster but with a day’s rest then the next test on the third day what a difference a couple of days can make. We produced a lovely test to win the class on over 70% it was such a anxious wait as I was quite early on and these classes are always huge. That win gave us direct qualification for the National Championships at PSG and one and a half goals achieved.
Onto Addington Premier League where I’d entered us for our first Inter 1, we did four tests with a 2nd (PSG) and two 5th place finishes (Inter 1 and PSG). I was delighted with our first Inter 1 with plenty of room for improvement. I won all my entry fees back in prize money which made to competition even sweeter.
I had wanted to go to Somerford Premier League but unfortunately they closed the entries early as they were over subscribed so I missed out – note for 2017 to enter that one very early! I took advantage of not being able to enter by going away for a few days to recharge the batteries. Wellington Premier League was next up Lisci produced three good tests, I felt we were very hard done by in the Inter 1 but that’s how it goes sometimes.
Onto Hickstead Premier League where I entered both the Inter 1 classes, the weather was awful I have never seen so much mud before, Lisci doesn’t like getting her toes dirty or puddles! She felt great warming up for the Inter 1 on the first day luckily the weather wasn’t too bad at that point. She produced a great test, definitely the best one to date although we did have a misunderstanding in our canter to trot transition at C. Lisci decided she’d rather like to stay in canter so ended up with a rear right under the judges but still a fantastic score of 71.62% for 2nd place. I couldn’t have been any happier with her. I had a day’s rest before the next Inter 1. This was the most amazing day as I had a voicemail left on my phone to say I had been selected to ride for Great Britain at Hartpury CDI – I had to listen to the messages twice for it to sink in I was so overwhelmed! Then I had a mad rush to sort out her FEI passport, our FEI licenses, and I hadn’t got an Inter 1 freestyle and I had two weeks to get one!
The rain was torrential for two days with huge thunderstorms, the lorry park and stables were a quagmire and arenas flooded. Lisci isn’t very good with puddles so we had a rather exuberant and spooky Inter 1 after a day’s break. I did my test in a very heavy shower and Lisci thought this was all very exciting I was not so amused so many mistakes and extra movements thrown in! I was amazed with out score of over 68% for 4th place! What a show it had been!
My union jacks arrived for Hartpury CDI to go on my jacket and saddle cloths kindly paid for by Global Herbs, and thanks to my mum for sewing them on. The day was looming, Lisci had been going very well although I was slightly concerned that perhaps it may be one competition too much and unfortunately I was correct. Lisci looked mega in the trot up although very much on her toes, she’d never had to trot up in front of a crowd before it was quite an atmosphere. Lisci was on fire, extremely sharp and sensitive and so spooky in the warm up she’s not been that naughty in a very long time, to the point I couldn’t ride at one end! So I went in knowing I was going to have to ride for my life to even keep her in arena and complete without mishap. I trot around the edge and I’m just approaching the A end and the bell has rung to start, and the steward lifts the board out right in front of us. Lisci has a melt down. Then just as I was going past the marquee that’s on the grass outside, a gust of wind caught it and it flapped… this just finished her off so needless to say the test was extremely tense although we did complete, but I was so disappointed it wasn’t the International debut that I’d hoped for. That’s horses for you. The next day was worse she had just completely boiled over, although there were bits that felt quite nice but unfortunately she was quite unsettled around the arena again with a few leaps and a rear just before I went in. Half way through my heart sank as the judge rang his bell… Lisci had bitten her lip. I presume she did it during her antics before I went down the centre line but rules are rules and any blood is elimination, I was gutted and it meant no freestyle for us.
Lisci enjoyed a well earned break and it was rabbits turn to strut her stuff and do her first novice tests I was delighted with how she coped for a 4yo for a 1st and 3rd with a 69+% and 70+% just a few green mistakes to iron out but there was some really lovely promising work.
I managed to take a few days holiday at the beginning of August deciding to take the chance that we would get a wild card for the Inter 1 at the National Championships to accompany our automatic PSG qualification, so I didn’t take her to a regional as I wanted her to have a good break. I found out to my delight while we were away that I had been awarded a wildcard, we celebrated with a nice meal and bottle of champagne.
I had another exciting moment this summer which was finding my own yard to rent with 15 boxes. I moved in on 1st August, and there was lots of work to be done and money to be spent to get it how I wanted but it was well worth the effort, time and money. I can now offer full and part livery, sales and training livery and competition livery.
The build up to nationals began involving lots of training and lessons, both horses had been in flying form at home and enjoying the change of scenery and having some good canters out hacking. Rabbit went out to do her next two novices and she stormed it to a double win with 76+% and 72+% she just got a little tired in second test, she was now qualified for the Novice Gold winter regional championships.
The Nationals went very well, Lisci felt fantastic to produce two lovely tests although I thought we were very harshly marked. so did a lot of other people. Never mind, I was thrilled with how she performed and couldn’t fault her she’s such a star.
About 10 days after the Nationals poor Lisci came down with a bacterial infection, she went from looking incredible to being lifeless, very thin and her coat looked so dull. It broke my heart to see her like that, it really was quite upsetting. I was feeding her Restore to aid her recovery, and I think without it she wouldn’t have brightened up so quickly. She also had a lump appear on her tummy near her stifle, so a few weeks ago I had it scanned. Nothing showed up so a hole was made so a biopsy could be taken. The results came back and it’s just a mass of fibrous tissue which won’t effect her in any way other than cosmetically – this was a huge relief. Poor Lisci, it’s been one thing after another, she’s only just now in more work so we’ve lost two months of work and it’s going to take quite a while to get all her muscle and weight back on.
Having qualified Rabbit for the novice I thought I’d have a go at novice freestyle with her to give her something to do, so I had Hala Bentley do some lovely music for her, which the judges loved too and resulted in two wins with 72+% and qualification for novice gold winter regional. I think she stands a cracking chance at the regionals.
We decided to take a December holiday to Spain, I was hoping for a nice 18-22 degrees but it could only happen to us… we had the heaviest rainfall and worst flooding in Spain in over 30 years – it was just typical. I realised when we landed I’d forgotten my bikini, a snorkel would have been more appropriate!
I had two great lessons with Rhett Bird on the 21st December, both horses were fantastic. This has set me up nicely for the new year with lots of very useful exercises and it was nice to know Lisci is definitely on the right track – what a huge relief. Ever since she had her infection I’ve been putting her under my new Drimee solarium for 15 mins twice a day and I really do think this has helped her.
My new arena is also now finished, it’s a 20x60m waxed fibre surface from Equi-est and I can’t wait to ride on it. Having only had a 20x40m arena since August it will be lovely to have space again and will make training the horses quite a bit easier. I hope to eventually have mirrors which will be very beneficial to my training as I’m on my own the majority of the time.
It has been a extremely busy year with lots of competing where I stayed away for multiple nights, lots of teaching and riding and moving to my new yard and getting it working how I like, then taking on more liveries and balancing all of my work has been full on but I wouldn’t change anything. Exciting times ahead in 2017 with lots of nice horses to ride next year, I really can’t wait. It’s always nicer after Christmas as there is always lots to look forward to, the nights start to draw out and there are only a couple of months left until the weather starts to improve.
I wish everyone who reads this a very merry Christmas and best wishes for 2017.”