I am determined to get my 2015 season off to a good start so there has been a lot of mileage clocked up in the last 10 days. Last week we had Tyrella on Saturday and Ballindenisk on Sunday. We had one rail down in our six show jumping rounds and a win for BT Cloud Nine in the 2* on the Sunday set us up nicely for the trip to Northern England this weekend.
Myself and Bridget set off with Lowhill Village at Lyons, BT Border Bandit and Portersize Just A Jiff to tackle a competitive field at Burgham International Horse Trials. I wasn’t alone making the journey! Sarah Ennis, Mike and Trish Ryan, Joseph Murphy and Esib Power were all there were. Paul Tapner said to me in the warm up that it was like being at Tatts with so many of us all about!
Dressage on Friday was a learning experience. I am constantly learning on how to deliver Blackie at the perfect time. Sometimes he needs to be ridden a lot beforehand, other times he will get frisky if I’ve been on him too long. Unfortunately, the latter was the case on Friday and its more notes in my book on how to change it for next time. BT Border Bandit was next in for me in the same 2* class and he felt brilliant. He is an amazing jumper and cross country horse so its constantly applying more little touches to this phase which will get us to the top. He scored a 50.0 but its nowhere near where I feel he will get to in this phase so I am happy with the experience. Finally there was Jiff and he was a bit of a cheeky monkey in places, throwing in a flying change where none was needed! He scored a 52.9 which is disappointing for a horse of his ability. I am analysing and learning more than ever from my videos and looking back I think I rushed the test too much in places. No matter what your experience, you are constantly learning from your performance and I have a few changes I want to try to make sure I am getting the best possible scores in my opening phase.
The heavens opened early on Saturday morning and didn’t let up. Having three horses going XC and SJ between 8.30am and 12.30, coupled with the wind and the rain, meant that Saturday morning was a tough one. I am lucky to have Bridget there with me running the show and Diarm was on hand to do fences and walk the horses. As every event rider will tell you, you need a great team around you to make it work and I am lucky to have one of the best!
Lowhill Village at Lyons does not knock rails (Touch Wood!). I’ve always been delighted with how this guy takes to this phase, he is a strong horse but is always very accurate in his jumping and a clear round was a nice way to start the day. BT Border Bandit had two very uncharacteristic rails in his round. It was disappointing but its not normal for him and I can excuse him this once. The ground had gotten incredibly slippy and wind was starting to blow down the show jumps between rounds so lots of horses were having unexpected rails. You never accept it and we will watch it back again and again to see where we can improve. Jiff in the 3* was the last of mine to go in. He was is usual self and felt as brilliant as ever. Another clear round, even with a stop on course to rebuild the jumps that were being demolished by the wind. Onwards to the cross country!
I owe a lot to Caroline Woods and Noel Murphy at the Institute of Sport for my winter training and conditioning. I have always worked hard off the horses but this winter that was brought to a new level and I feel stronger and more powerful that ever before. Going XC on Lowhill Village at Lyons, I knew I had the strength to help and guide him and that proved correct with a nice clear round. BT Border Bandit came next and again, was home clear. He is an incredibly exciting horse when out in the country and is one of my favourite ever rides in this phase. So much scope and lots of heart and I can not wait to take him round Badminton and Burghley. He is one to watch going cross country if your ever at one of his events!
Speaking of heart..Jiff was is his usual self. The wind and rain were no distraction and he bounded around is his usual manner. In these conditions, I didn’t check my watch, it was all about making sure he felt good and when he got in he was barely blowing. He finished 6th in the end and will probably have a pipe opener before Badminton but nothing else. Our tickets arrived yesterday and I can’t wait to get back there with this dude.
Off the course at 12.45, Diarm walked Jiff while we packed and cleaned and a tractor was towing us out of Burgham by 1.15! My mother is not one for hanging around she put the boot down and did the 6 and half hour drive back to Holyhead like Lewis Hamilton. She got us there for the 8.30 boat and the horses were back in there own stables by 1am.
I have to thank her so much for the last 10 days. I dread to think of all the kilometres she has racked up and never complained. She keeps the whole show on the road and I’d be lost without her. Back home, Amy Reid looked after the yard and I am so grateful to her for all her work this week and over the last 6 months. Amy is off to work closer to home at Kildangan Stud and will be missed. We wish her all the best and hope she will be back around the place in some capacity in the future.
Finally, well done to all the Irish riders who made the trip. Mike and Trish, Esib, Joseph and Sarah – all recorded great results and to have 6 horses in the Top 10 overseas shows how strong a team we have developing.
We are heading to Wexford Equestrian Centre for the first leg of the exciting ‘Stepping Stones to Success’ League next Wednesday with BT Macdiamond and BT Just a Rebel for the 5 year old class. Judged by Ian Fearon and this weeks guest Judge Mark Kyle, it is a fantastic event which showcases the finest young horses across Ireland.
We are then off to Lisgarvan next weekend where BT Cloudnine will campaign in his first Intermediate, Sally and Brendan Corcadden’s ‘Goldman’ will compete in the Open Novice for his first run of the season, and BT Bentley will take on the novice at only his second attempt at this level.
Firstly though…. I need a good nights sleep!!!!