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And the season begins! Alice Goring tells us what she's been up to.
The season is now well and truly underway, although it has been slightly damper than we had hoped! The Little Frenchman (Fin) started his year off with the ON at Isleham, where he glided through the deep mud to come 6th in a very competitive section. Growing up on Bodmin moor, he is no stranger to a bit of mud and he definitely felt more than ready for Tweseldown Intermediate. Unfortunately the weather really was against us and heavy rain saw all three days of Tweseldown being called off, which was such a shame for everyone involved. There is naturally a lot of disappointment when an event is cancelled, especially when seasons are always planned very carefully, days are booked off work and horses are in peak fitness. However, it is important to look at it from the organisers point of view. The amount of effort that gets put into an event is absolutely enormous and a big downpour of rain days before must be absolutely gutting.
We were off to Gatcombe next and another muddy run for Fin! We had entered the ON as the idea was that it would be a fun run after Tweseldown Intermediate. He was a pro and just added cross country time faults to his 32 dressage due to very slippery going. I was incredibly lucky to run just before the event was abandoned. When we got back to the lorry, it was well and truly stuck in the mud and had sunk right down….oh no what do I do!! It was one of the rare events that I have been at by myself and I have therefore never found myself in this situation before. Luckily the tractor driver came to the rescue – these people are such hero’s at soggy events!
I have been working in Hamburg for the past month and am probably one of the only eventers around that is actually pleased that I haven’t missed out on a single event whilst I have been away, thanks to the cancellations! (Although if the rain could stop in time for me coming home for good, that would be much appreciated!!)
I have come back home for a couple of weekends to ride, as luckily the flight is very short. The first weekend, I took Fin to the Dengie Open Dressage Nationals. He scored a pleasing mark of 67.5% in a very difficult long arena championship test, meaning that we came home with a placing. I was very happy, especially seeing as he is an eventer and dressage is definitely not his “thing”! I am sure that he could think of a long list of things that he would rather be doing, but he held it together to produce a smart test. The second weekend at home was spent SJ and XC training. Both boys are going really well and are ready for their upcoming events. Fin will be doing the CIC* at Hambleden this weekend (I am currently doing a sun dance) and I have just entered Joey for his first ever BE80 at Coombelands on 1st May.
Another bit of very exciting news is that The Little Frenchman will be returning to the country that he was born in next month, to do the CCI* at Jardy. This will be my first ever event abroad and I am so excited! There are lots of things to prepare in the meantime…..FEI passport, ferry bookings, Union Jack for my numnah, trot up outfit (very important!) and much more, so it is going to be a busy few weeks. I am very grateful to my sister and Cat Kerruish who have both been exercising my horses whilst I am away, as I couldn’t have even contemplated doing this event without their hard work. It is such a relief to go away and not have to worry.
Meanwhile, Teddy our mascot Shetland pony has been very busy and really enjoys accompanying Fin to his events! His large 21,000 Instagram following even got him a spot on BBC news and we can’t go very far without a sea of people coming for cuddles! We are hoping that he will start some therapy work in the summer and this will begin with him being guest of honour at a charity event in 10 days. It is hard not to smile when you see him, so I hope that he will bring happiness to lots of people.
Fingers crossed for no more rain and hopefully I will then have two Internationals to report on in the next blog! Exciting times ahead.
We were all geared up for our adventure abroad, however unfortunately on the morning that we were due to be leaving Finley had other ideas. Horses don’t half know how to bring you back down to reality with a bump! He pulled off a shoe bruising the sole of his foot and taring half of it off on the way. It was just one of those really small and temporary injuries, but he clearly wasn’t 100% comfortable on it and there was no point in driving all the way to France when he wasn’t himself. (Although knowing him he would have probably tanked me around anyway!)
Although it was very disappointing, I used the free time to focus on my youngster Joey whilst Finley sunned himself and rested. We put in a desperate plea to Munstead the night before their unaffiliated event and were very lucky to be slotted in! Of course once I had done this I realized that poor Joey hadn’t quite had the run up he should have had to his first ever event. All of my energy had been focused on getting Finley fit for a three day and Joey had been ticking over but hadn’t jumped for a few weeks and I had no idea which dressage test it was! Nevertheless we had a fantastic time. He is only 4 and he was so well behaved, coping with the new experiences of dressage on grass, white boards and crowds so well. He pulled off a 32 dressage and two super bold jumping rounds. I was thrilled! Since then Joey has been getting the call up quite a lot. None of these events were planned but it has been a brilliant chance to see what he is made of – and wow he is a special horse!
In his second event at Coombelands, he got a 30 dressage and if I hadn’t gone too fast XC he would have won by a long way! In the end he finished in 3rd which was incredible. His most recent competition was last weekend, where he competed in his first ever 90. This was once again a bit of a last minute entry, but he made me smile so much and just cruised around as if he had done it all before. He gave the jumps a large amount of height as well – just in case!
We also had a trip to Royal Windsor for the University Challenge showjumping. I realised that this may be a bit too much for Joey…he probably would have been great, but it was a team event and therefore pressure that he didn’t really need. Especially seeing as his life has been so hectic recently! Instead, I took Woody who is still going strong at 20 years old! He is an ex 4* horse that was bought for my sister to compete at lower levels. I had so much fun and he even came away with a lovely rosette.
Meanwhile, Teddy the miniature shetland mascot has been keeping us all amused. A video of him and I rollerskating down my road seems to have gone viral and has got over 300,000 views! Crazy!!
Finley is feeling great once more and is entered for Nunney IN. Fingers crossed!