The year is flying past, can hardly believe it is June already! A news update is always on the 'things to do' list but it seems to get overtaken by something else most of the time :-/.
All the horses have been progressing well in one form or another;
Freddie has just recently upped his work again to gingerly doing advanced medium type work. In my mind he is theoretically retired to reduce pressure on him & I but I can't help dreaming of one last Championship....guess time will tell. He is willing in mind, just hope his body lets him dance publicly once more. Even now he still gives me moments of how amazing he can be & reminds me of how special he is.
Plum (Sugar Plum Fairy, owned by Reay Campbell of the Caledonia stud) has really surprised me with her attitude this year. After what was a difficult end to 2016 with her, she exceeded all my expectations & won the Novice Gold & Novice Freestyle Gold at the Winter Regional Championships at Morris EC. Reay had plans of embryo transfer with her & knowing that I planned to qualify her at Novice Gold for the Summer Regionals before she was to head to stud after the Winter Championships. She qualified very easily & so immediately I lifted the bar & wondered if Elementary Gold qualification would be possible -poor Plum! She rose to the challenge & qualified in 2 competitions at Howe EC & SNEC! She benefited from the higher level tests & returned to Novice at the Winter Championships with greater confidence in herself & more belief in me.
Plum had never experienced anything like the Winter Championships; a 9hr journey, followed by competition stabling & performing in the potentially terrifying Hartpury arena. The Novice Freestyle Gold was first & she simply amazed me. She stayed with me & believed me when I said everything would be ok....the end result was a happy horse & ecstatic rider. We scored 73.06% & finished 3rd....we were only 0.64% behind the winner, it was very close! A very tired Plum did the Novice Gold the next day, we made a mistake but still gained 68.04% & 12th. On the journey home we dropped her off at the stud & look forward to her returning with the Regional Championships at Cabin in August as our aim.
Henry (Isambard) started his ridden work over the winter, with Jonathan Lough doing the job of breaking him in. He is as strong willed as his brother & half brother but I'm determined! Conor Bangham has come to help me work the horses 3 days a week, he is hacking Henry & we are taking our time so that he is positive & confident about work. As many of you will know it's the tacking up & finishing off that takes the time & Conor allows me to be finished riding by lunchtime 3 days a week so that I can teach, go to the gym or even have a few hours to myself!
Humphrey (Hidalgo) has become publicly acceptable for viewing & so has been allowed out to competitions! Being 17.2hh, he needed time to understand his body & grow into it. He had his first outing at a horsescotland training day & had to cope with jumping training going on next door...eyes were out on stalks! His first competition was a Novice Freestyle Gold at Morris EC using music very generously supplied by Colin :-). He had never seen white boards or flowerpots before but was a complete star & won the test with 75%. He then went to Inchchoonans & Rockrose & thrilled us by qualifying for the Novice Gold Regional Championship.
Towards the end of May he was asked to be a guinea pig at the Michael Eilberg demonstration held at Morris EC. Humphrey was a great & coped admirably with the pole work Michael did with him. Michael gave me some ideas for the toolbox, which will be very useful. While heading home we had a front tyre blowout...Humphrey stood fantastically while we were recovered & we finally got to bed at 2am!
Colin has been quietly improving in the background. Thanks to the wonderful veterinary care from Andrew McDiarmid (Clyde Vets) & the farriery of Stewart Armstrong, Colin improved enough to do his first flying change in 9.5 months on his birthday - 1st April! As a trial he went to horsescotland training at Morris at the start of May & tentatively we planned to do our first competition towards the end of May. Luckily we found a PSG at Alnwick Ford EC. Tentative seemed to be the order of the day & the mission of no real mistakes was completed though a jog in the extended walk was very expensive....he scored 66.97%. We need to be braver & have the feeling that we are there to take the test on - that is our goal for next time. Saying all of that it was so good to be riding with my tailcoat on again & have Colin back as my partner....brought a tear to my eye when we finished the test!
On a personal note; I continue to get stronger. The frustration, although still there is more manageable but I still strive to be the old Jo....she is getting more within reach though! In May I sat my UKCC Level 3 Dressage Specific coaching exam & passed! I was quite stressed - for me it is far less stressful competing at the National Championships than that! Thankfully it is done & I am very relieved. Thankyou very much to the team at horsescotland, BD Scotland, Sharon Lindop & Harry Payne for the help in getting me through the work over the last 15 months.
As always I am indebted to the support I get from my sponsors; TopSpec, Equilibrium, Sankey Saddles, Uvex, JM Horseboxes & horsescotland. Thankyou Mary - Lady Hope & Reay, for having belief in me & allowing me to have your horses & Mum, my greatest supporter & critic!