So this weekend was really one of ups and downs. On Friday Merlot 🍷🐴left for her new home in the UK. Thanks to everyone who asked if I was ok – I am as sometimes you have to make tough decisions but when its for the right reason it’s the right decision. She has gone to a wonderful person and a great home and I wish them the very best success together.
On Sunday Sammy and I travelled with Clara and Ruby to Tattersalls for our second EI100. This, to put it bluntly, did not go to plan. It’s the biggest event I have ever been to – superbly organised and beautiful to look at. We started the day parking on concrete which was a delight as I could put in studs without Sammy trying to eat grass. We did a dressage test which wasn’t our best but that I didn’t think was bad. Now Sammy is a very polarising horse in dressage and I know this – for example he got a 73% and 63% an hour apart at Dressage Ireland a while ago. He has never gotten a bad score at a prelim before but sure look we as competitors pay to be judged and that’s life so I am just going to put that behind me and move on!
On the way back to change into show jumping tack he spotted the SJ rings and started squealing and darting sideways which was a little bit embarrassing but good to see his enthusiasm all the same. His show jumping on paper was four faults but I was delighted with it because I am shocked to say I enjoyed it. I do not like show jumping, I only do it as you have to to event and Sammy likes it. I have a very simple SJ strategy called ‘just get it over with’ with a sub theme of ‘do not think about it’. The course was causing a lot of fallen poles so I just started warming up and as normal when a high level rider came in I just followed them over fences while staying out of their way (great way to get a warm up when you are on your own in a warm up as they have grooms and if you don’t get in the way its grand!) . They whacked up a massive oxer so I just always say to myself if you jump that once and don’t die you are ready to go in. We jumped that and lived so in we went – the fences looked small and Sam was great he was loving it. We knocked the second last due to a consistent issue that I need to put some time and effort into addressing – he refuses to change leg and will go disunited – so I took him back to trot and changed leg but didn’t have enough canter coming into the next.
Then the XC. Do you ever just feel a bit jinxed? Well Clara and I are going to have to do a sun dance or buy a few children of Prague because we just can’t take another soaking. ☔️💦🌧💧☂️Fresh from everything we own being drowned in Cork a few weeks ago yesterday was worse. The weather was great all morning only for the worst rain I have ever experienced in the saddle to appear just as I headed for the start box – I swear someone up above was laughing as they turned on the tap. We both wear contact lenses which do not cope well with torrential rain. When I say bad I mean biblical, no vision, bad. We jumped the first two fences ok, the third was carnage as I was blinking like a lunatic but could not focus on the fence and we got very close but cleared it. I had a very clear plan for fence four the big log on the top of the hill and five a combination with a ditch and hedge in the middle. This did not go to plan. This really really did not go to plan. I turned towards four smashed in the face with wind and rain, rode on and unlike the modest jump I expected he launched himself over it and I lost a stirrup and my balance heading down hill while Sammy started eyeing up fences that were not even on the course. He locked on to five with an attitude of ‘I’ve got this’. Now my detailed plan for this fence was steady pace and short reins and head and shoulders up not this half balanced too fast carnage. It did not occur to me that I could have circled but to be honest it was just chaos. Safe to say – no, he hadn’t got it – he jumped the first part and dived away from the second. I always think a run out rather than a dead stop is rider error and preventable and when he was immediately represented slowly and with less options he cautiously jumped it. To be fair to him he is not a big fan of sudden changes in terrain. He flew the rest of the track which was admirable as there was one fence on the way back where my vision was so bad I was no use to him. (it’s the log pile in the photo – fair play to him as I wasn’t even sure which one I was aiming at the rain was so bad I was seeing blurry double and I figured if I avoided the car I was doing well). 🦄He felt fitter than last time too and recovered quicker which is great. Unfortunately I discovered afterwards that he had three welts and scrapes on his stomach which I suspect are from fence three the brush we got quick close to and this probably goes someway towards explaining the over jump at four. We are home safe and he is well minded so we will live to fight another day and given Clara had issues at the same fence we have some schooling planned for this week before our next outing. I have never been as soaked as I was after that XC round I do not know if my boots will actually recover at all. (I actually can’t find one of them) My pom pom hat silk looks like road kill!!
Sunday was a reminder of how important friends are especially when things go wrong. I’d wonderful friends texting me to wish me luck and commiserate (you know who you are and thank you), and friends onsite competing where we supported each other – most of us were at the mercy of the course – well apart from Marnie who is a machine and managed to go clear SJ in the monsoon and clear XC after!! Huge thanks to Aoife for loaning me her horses rug to dry myself with so I could get changed!! As for Clara there are some people who are just a pleasure to spend a day with and im lucky that she does it with me and we have more planned for Sammy and Ruby’s adventures.
Sunday wasn’t all doom and gloom as my brother in law Rory absolutely nailed it and won his class on six year old DBS Oisinn. No one works as hard as Rory at this and he deserves every success – this is someone who works all day then does horses all evening for the love of it while helping others on the way. As for Oisinn I have been involved in handling this horse from when he was a three year old getting started and I love seeing horses transforming through training. My job on the team is pretty basic and I do things like patting him on the head, giving him a treat when he is good, putting up poles and giving him a pick of haylage when he looks over the door when I check the horses at night but its really lovely having different horses in your life and watching them learn and succeed and being a part of it. Safe to say I have spent most of Monday inside and dry!! Ruby and Sammy had a well deserved muscle massage treatment. For once Clara and I decided we should do the same this week instead of looking after the horses and just eating ibuprofen!🦄
Oh, the photos are purchased from Louise O’Brien Photography – I don’t know how she managed in the weather but I am glad she did! Bizarrely these are the first photos I have seen of me actually looking up over fences so perhaps desperately trying to see does wonders for my position!