So long, August!
Didn’t this month just fly by? I cant believe its over already, perhaps it’s because I’ve been so busy that it feels that way!
We started the month at Puddledub show, where we jumped a clear round over a tricky course and won our working hunter class! I was so chuffed, but a little fed up after having waited 4 hours for my classes, which then clashed(!) it was a mad dash and with a little bit of help from my mum we made it into the ring in record timing for the side saddle class too. Gerry was great, particularly so considering he had no side saddle warm up and we had 5 judges judging us!! Talk about intimidating! But he nailed it, and we had a great, confidence boosting practice run for our next event on the calendar, Blair Castle.
New shoes, stud holes in, numerous baths and lots of practice… and we’re ready for Blair! The biggest event on most Scottish horsey-folks calendars. The event itself is huge, it brings in around 40,000 spectators and hosts not only 1*, 2* 3* eventing but also the televised Event Rider Masters. Equestrian sport dominates the four days, hosting competitors ranging from Olympic champions to local Pony Club children and everyone in between, and many different types of equestrian competition can be seen, including me! In my side saddle and in the BRC Style Jumping finals! We arrived on site on the Wednesday evening, set up our tents, bedded down the horses into their temporary stables and rode around the lorry park. Thankfully Gerry seemed very settled and behaved in his usual cool and collected manner, little did I know this was soon to change!! Thursday morning I spent grooming for one of my friends in her hunter and coloured classes. Then Thursday afternoon was my time to compete in the style jumping finals. I got Gerry from his stable and led him over to my trailer to get him tacked up and ready to jump, however, the lorry park was much closer to all of the eventing and cross country course than he was in his stable, and as soon as he heard the eventing tannoy, his body language and attitude changed completely! It took myself and 3 friends to get him tacked up, he wouldn’t stand still and was chucking his legs around, I didn’t like the horse that he’d turned into and got a bit nervous about his behaviour, what was he going to do when I was on? Thankfully he was reasonably level headed as I warmed him up and popped a few fences, and it wasn’t until we moved into the collecting ring that he became quite opinionated and wanted to go back to the warm up ring with the others! The competitor before me finished her round and I trotted up to the judges box. Gerry wouldn’t stand still for me to salute (which is part of the required movements in the Style Jumping) he was dancing around and bouncing on his front legs, eager to go. Thankfully they rung the bell and I was able to canter off and start jumping. We jumped clear, but in a most inelegant fashion! I had reins like washing lines and we never hit many of the fences on a decent stride! But hey… we jumped clear round Blair! Not everyone can say that. I put the wild beast back into this stable and watched a bit more of the class to wind down from my escapade! Friday and Saturday we had no competitions so I rode Gerry once in the morning astride and once in the evening side saddle on both days, I didn’t want him to be his silly excited self again in my side saddle class! He went really nicely in all of our practice runs. Sunday morning dawned and it was time to get ready. The warm up ring was an interesting experience, between ex-racers having a paddy and shopping stalls taking up and down marquee tents it wasn’t the confidence building warm up that I needed. Then they popped us into the collecting ring, and shortly after said we could head into the real ring. The arena was as far from ideal for side saddle as it could be, it was on a slope and not at all wide in diameter. It had also been split into half and we were told to use the smaller, but flatter half. Gerry was wired to the moon, he would only walk or canter! his trot was short, choppy and tense, which doesn’t make for an easy ride aside at all. When it came to standing still, we just couldn’t! He pranced around as if there were hot coals under his hooves and threatened to rear, buck and do the funky chicken dance the best he could – silly horse is all I can say! Thankfully, the class was judged entirely on my riding and not how Gerry behaved. We placed in 3rd (not last!) and received the award for most elegant, I got another rosette for 2nd place adult. So, it didn’t go completely to plan, but we did at the end of the day 1. Manage to stay on 2. Get some pretty photos 3. Get some pretty rosettes and 4. Get some prize money!! I would love to say I enjoyed my ride round Blair, but sadly I just didn’t!! But that’s horses for you, we just cant predict how they are going to behave, under all that pressure and with such a huge atmosphere around, who can blame them for having an “I’m really not sure about this” day! they are not machines, sometimes we need to remind ourselves that! I still love my Gerry horse, he is super special and it does make me feel better to know that he doesn’t usually behave that way, and Blair must just have overwhelmed him! Either that or he just really, REALLY wanted to go eventing instead!!!
We’ve been home a week now and thankfully Gerry has settled back in at home, happy in his usual routine. Just a couple more shows left this summer and then things will quieten down for winter, where hopefully we will get out to some local show jumping leagues and develop our jumping skill and technique together!
Lastly! Its been 3 years since I began my Honeychop journey! would you believe it, time has just flown in and i am so, so grateful to the team at Honeychop for all they have done for myself and my horses over the 3 years! Its been a really great run, I hope it continues!
Until next month
Grace & Gerry x