I thought 2016 had been a busy year, but 2017 has blown it out of the park! This year horses were supposed to take a back seat while focused on achieving a Masters in Petroleum Geoscience at Imperial College. True to form I decided to ignore my lecturers warnings and try to compete anyway, which was fine until I realised I wouldn’t get a summer holiday this year!
I’ve continued to be involved with university riding. I rode for Imperial this year in the British University’s league, qualifying individually for regionals. Imperial Sport very kindly awarded me a sport scholarship without which I wouldn’t have had the results I did this year.
International Student Riding has also continued. I represented the Netherlands at World Finals where I finished 4th in the Show Jumping. The drama of the weekend was falling down a steep flight of Dutch Stairs and getting stitches in my chin followed by losing my passport and then having to phone up uni and explain that I had concussion and there may need to be a rethink about how I was going to take my exams. The competition in Germany at the beginning of August was much more successful, I managed to get through to the show jumping final and I was lucky enough to ride the most amazing horse (which helps when it’s 1.20m!) winning individual silver as well as bronze for my combined placing. The team won gold combined so everyone went home feeling very elated.
Maria didn’t start eventing until the end of April. My goal for this year was to complete an Intermediate and so we spent the winter show jumping to become more confident at this level. It must’ve paid off because in her first three runs at Novice and Intermediate Novice, she only had one pole down, even picking up 8th on one occasion. We picked Upton House as our first Intermediate and she did a sweet test and jumped really well in the show jumping until the second last where I was so pleased to nearly completed I stopped riding and she stopped. I fell off, but determined to complete I hopped back on, finished and went cross country. She flew round the course like it was nothing and made it feel so easy, not bad when the jumps were the same size as her! We achieved our second Intermediate completion at Wilton, with the added bonus of Maria’s breeder coming to watch. She hadn’t seen Maria since we bought her 8 years ago and she was thrilled with her completing with a few poles and a storming clear cross country.
Sadly our season came to an end after this as she manged to pull a muscle in her shoulder, but after lots of time off and massaging, she is back to being bouncy and should be raring to go in March.
Phoebe has had an interesting year, her goal was to qualify for the Pony Club open Show Jumping Championships, which she did by coming 3rd at Areas. We also qualified as part of a mixed team, which was a lovely bonus. At the Champs, the mud didn’t suit her and we had a few poles, but I was just pleased we had made it there. She has also been amazing eventing this year, we dropped her down to 90 on advice of my trainer to see if she could get it when it was a little easier. She has been fab, jumping double clears and even picking up 2nd and Tweseldown round the BE course. Sadly by the time my degree finished I realised I wouldn’t have time for 2 horses once I finished being a student and made the sad decision to sell her, but I’ve found a lovely home where I’m sure she will be happy.
As well as competing my horses, this year I was part of and trained our branches Senior Horse and Pony Care Team who won the Areas by a huge margin and headed up to the Championships. There was a small timetabling issue with the Open Show Jumping on the same day as the Pony Care, but this was all sorted by jumping first which gave me an hour to put Phoebe away, eat lunch, get changed and sprint to the stables just in time for the briefing. Despite being out of breath for the first round, the team were fantastic and managed to finish 2nd out of a very strong field, only 7 points behind the eventual winners. I’m so proud of the team as neither of the other 2 members had been to the champs as seniors but were not at all phased by the step up.
I know this year isn’t over yet, but everything seems to be coming to an end with the event season over, my degree finished and a horse for sale that I thought it fitting to write something now. My next adventure starts on Tuesday when Maria and I are heading off to Bristol to be a working pupil for Nick Gauntlett! I can’t wait to get started and I am so excited to have been offered this fantastic opportunity.