So this is it the very last Blog from mine and Riley’s first ever season eventing and what a roller coaster of 8 months it has been!
We started the year at Morton having a run at an BE80, did our first ever BE90 at Howick, crashed and burned at Broadway, had a little bit of a time out from BE at unaffiliated events but then got back on track at West Wilts, had a blast at Treborough, pranced around Pontispool after 10 days of no saddle because of a stupid fly bite! And then this took us to the end of the year for Bricky and Larkhill.
Bricky had an eventful start as we arrived in torrential rain and I walked the show jumping and cross country courses in a thunder storm! So thinking that this was going to be a “fun day” we tacked up and headed off to the dressage to warm up, but it would seem that lady luck was on our side and the rain eased off. After the usual 10 mins of shall we say “discussions” between Riley and I regarding his attitude to dressage and lack of concentration Riley decided that arguing was a waste of his time and knuckled down and worked in really well. Bricky was the first time we had a chance to ride a different BE test as they used the 20 x 60 BE93 test which for me made a nice change as I for one like the long arena tests as you get so much more time to prepare for moves and manoeuvring a 17hh super tanker around is so much easier in a long arena!
We went into do our test and despite the emptying of Riley’s bowels down the centre line he did what I thought was a foot perfect test and I was really pleased with him and also myself. The Show jump warm up at Bricky was an interesting one. This year has taught me a lot about myself and Riley and how we warm up, Riley is one of those horses which you have to build in the warm up especially for show jumping. I cannot go into and jump the cross pole then the upright and then ping him over the oxer at full height as it just doesn’t work for either of us. So trying to get the warm up oxer put down to suitable height in amongst from what I can make out to be some trainers pushing the same horse and rider over the same fence again again and again can be somewhat difficult. Bricky was one of those places and much tongue biting had to be had for “Mr Warm up trainer” who just would not let us put the jump down – grrrr.
Anyhow eventually he disappeared and we could put the oxer at a more suitable height and we warmed Riley up. I can’t say I had the best warm up but I did my best to concentrate on his canter and not focus on the “sticky” jumps which he can often give. We went in to do our round and the course was nice, spacious and rode very well. Riley felt confidence and forward into the fences and after holding my breath for the last couple we actually went clear. Feeling very pleased with our efforts we went off to the cross country and warmed up. Riley is a different horse when it comes to XC to what he is in the show jumping he probably gets it all from me as I far prefer the XC to Show Jumping! After a bit of a hold for a fence repair we finally got called into the start box and set off. Bricky was quite a long course and had around 30 jumping efforts which were the most we had come across so far. Most of the fences were straight forward but up to height, Riley sailed round like a pro and we finished the course very happy. Having had times near to the end of the class I had even more smiles as on the way back to the lorry park the commentators were announcing that we had gone into the lead!!! So I had a bit of a excited but anxious wait until the end only to then find that I had been piped into second place by another rider 1.5 marks ahead of us. But I was so pleased to have even come 2nd and we received a lovely hamper of goodies and more importantly I can now go to a Regional Final for Badminton Grassroots next year with the aim to do our best to qualify for 2015
Wondering whether I should quit whilst I was ahead I did wonder about going to Larkhill but we made the decision to go. Again the weather was not really on our side and we did have some heavy showers. My dressage went ok and although Riley didn’t feel at his best during the warm up or the test we did the best we could do on the day. The show jump arena was empty when I went to warm up so I had a free rein of the warm up fence height which was nice and then because there were no other competitors about I literally cantered straight into the arena and got on with our round. Riley was jumping his little socks off however I fall foul of not being able to walk the course and a turn which I didn’t envisage to be a tricky one was and at the second from home I heard that horrible tap of hooves on a pole and that was that 4 faults given. We came out of the arena feeling a little sorry that we’d had one but I was pleased how he jumped around the rest of the round however whilst heading back to the trailer Riley didn’t feel 100% sound. I got off at the trailer and trotted him up and he looked fine so we got ready for the XC and headed over.
Larkhill XC was a lovely course and I was keen to get on round. Riley again flew round the first half of the course but I found I just had to kick on a bit towards the end. We got through the finish line and immediately I knew something was wrong, Riley was very lame on uneven ground so I got straight off and lead him back to the lorry park where we gave him a thorough check. Immediately I found a huge spiky stone wedged between his hoof and his shoe and I managed remove it. We trotted him up again to find that he was very lame so we enlisted the help of the onsite vet who confirmed that he had a bruised sole and his digital pulse was raised. The vet suggested we get the farrier to remove his shoe and we could then poultice and bandage his hoof to travel him home. So sadly our last event wasn’t so great and to add insult to injury our final score was tied with 4 others and my big striding grey was again quick around the XC, even with a sore foot, and we ended up finishing 11th with all the other tied on the same score as me in the top 10. So I don’t want to end my last blog on a negative note with Riley injuring himself as these things happen and although we are now dealing with a secondary problem with his hoof, because he’s ended up with an abscess, he is slowly on the mend and we are most definitly planning our 2014 season. I am hoping to be brave enough to make the step up to BE100 at some point next year, and also do our utmost to try and get one of those sought after qualifications for Badminton Grass Roots 2015.
Of course to me Riley is a horse in a million and one of my most precious things in the world, there are no words which I can use to explain just how willing he is to please. I owe him everything for all the great things he has given me the opportunity to do, and I cannot wait to see where we go and what happens next year. Not everything goes our way and eventing has taught me to be humble and take things on the chin when it doesn’t go quite as planned. It takes a very good day to be able to stand a chance at get a good result, everything you do on that one day in those few hours has to go right and to some extend luck has to be on your side. I have to thank my trainer, Jo May, for being so amazing and super supportive with both myself and Riley. Thanks also go to my mum and friend Jean who have both willingly done the early starts and attended most of my events this year and been a great support crew. And I cannot forget to thank my other half Paul who puts up with me spending more time with Riley than what I do him!
I don’t know how many people have followed my blog over the last 8 month but I hope it’s been interesting and hopefully has inspired those who want to give this sport a go.
So that’s it from me and I’m signing off with a final, hopefully motivational, quote, this is one which I have to tell myself a lot “Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears.”!!!!
Happy eventing everyone
Claire and Riley (Nebula)