So it’s the end of the season and though every year I say it’s been the best season I think this year really has been the best. Like every competition year there’s high and lows, and it certainly wouldn’t make a good sport if it was easy.
The main aim for 2016 was firstly to get qualified for the European Championships for Young Riders and then of course to be selected and actually get to go. Kirsty Wiscombe kindly allowed me to try to get my final qualification on her 16 year old gelding Eskar. So in January, February and March the whole focus was on getting fit for the CEIYJ2* 124km race at Fontainebleau, France. Everything went to plan and we completed the race in tip top condition with Eskar feeling better than ever. We then went to the selection ride at Pilgrims Trail in July and made the team meaning we did achieve the aim of the season. Sadly we didn’t complete at the Europeans but I don’t feel disheartened at all because the whole experience was amazing! I learnt so much and enjoyed the trip immensely.
The start of the season was the busiest I’ve ever had. Every weekend from the beginning of March right through to the middle of May I was away at competitions, either riding or crewing. In March I completed a 40km at Forest of Dean & an 80km at Concrete Cows with Yawl Hill Maverick where we finished in 3rd place. I also took Chip to Cannock Chase and finished off the month crewing at Haywood Oaks, an 80km on Saturday and a 60km on Sunday. The very next weekend, we travelled to France
to race at Fontainebleau! Next up was Kings Forest April where I crewed the 80km CEI1* for second place and the next day rode the 80km graded with Oakleaze Farm Cziko for a Grade 1. April finished off with an awesome trip to Babolna, Hungary to crew the CEI2* 120km to 6th place. The next weekend I travelled to deepest darkest Wales to ride an 80km graded at Myndd y Crug with BH Supersonic! The next competition was crewing the CEI2* 120km at Windsor on the Friday and then travelling on Saturday to France to complete the CEI1* 80km with Frandore Al Maury at Azerable on the Sunday! So that was the season in summary March to mid-May!
From May I started a new job working at an endurance stable based at Shadwell in Norfolk. This was the most eye opening experience of the entire season. I rode four horses every day, often twice a day, all in preparation for qualifiers and races at Euston Park. I also rode at qualifiers and crewed. We had a very successful summer as a stable and picked up quite a few placings. Working
as an endurance rider was a really great summer job and I don’t regret doing it for one minute but equally I’m in no rush to do it again! Its seriously hard work and in many ways far too intense for my style with a lot of emphasis on winning, sometimes at the expense of the horses’ wellbeing, which isn’t at all how I do things. Anyway, I finished that job with a lot of new ideas and perspectives on life!
I finished there in August and had a few weeks off before starting back at university in September. In September I travelled to Portugal and competed at the Europeans, then organised my ride which was supposed to be two-days of competition but ended up being one – long story! After that I went to Lions Tail and did the two-day 80km with Oakleaze Farm Cziko picking up two grade 2s!
The final ride in September was a little charity ride with Chip which was his first ride back after his injury at Kings Forest in April. I had so many aims for him in 2016 but of course that’s all been set back to 2017 now. As upset as I was at the time, giving him the summer off was the best thing I ever did. He came back so much stronger and mentally more mature that it’s like having a new horse! I moved Chip up to Sheffield so that he would be with me for my final year of university and the move has gone really well too. He’s being so good! I’m planning to spend the winter strengthening and conditioning him so we can hit the ground running for the start of the 2017 season.
October is the final month of the endurance season so I thought I’d make the most of it by signing myself up for something every weekend of course! I went to my first ever Red Dragon at the beginning on the month with Oakleaze Farm Cziko and picked up a further two grade 2s! The next weekend was a crewing weekend and the weekend just gone I travelled to Bulgaria to race the CEI1* 90km at Shumen with Taifa De Arcos and then the next day I rode Quite Interesting in the 40km. It wasn’t the most successful trip as poor Arco picked up a girth rub on the second loop so we decided to retire after 70km. Nonetheless another awesome endurance experience and another country visited!
So despite it being the end of the season, I’m somehow busy every weekend until the end of November! Next weekend I’m going to EGB’s Group Meeting as the representative for Cromwell group which is an all day affair on Saturday. At the end of the month I’m taking Chippy to do a Halloween Ride in Derbyshire and its fancy dress so I have to think of an outfit! The next weekend I’m attending the Internation Seminar being hosted by EGB which has loads of really accomplished speakers which should be a really motivating and thought provoking session. And the next thing to look forward to is the EGB AGM and Awards Dinner which is always really great fun!
2016 season really has been great. I’ve learnt so much and have made some amazing new friends! I want to say a massive thank you to my brilliant sponsors who have been so supportive; Rowen Barbury, Equiform, Cold One, Noble Outfitters, Torq & Just Chaps. I aslo want to say a massive thank you to all the owners that have lent me horses this year; Kirsty Wiscombe, Nicola Boud, Kate Mills, Fiona Griffiths, Coralie Holman & Louise Rich. And the biggest thanks to all the superstar ponies; Eskar, Yawl Hill Maverick, Frandore Al Maury, Algoria Biggore, Cancum Villoresi, BH Supersonic, Spanish Heir, Taifa de Arco, Reena Screena Star, Oakleaze Farm Cziko & Quite Interesting.
The 2017 calendar is provisionally out and I’m getting far too excited for another season of extreme sleep deprivation and riding far too many kms – but that’s endurance!!!