Well! What a month, not exactly the way I had planned, but fun none the less! Starting with Blair Castle, the event I was so looking forward to last month! We arrived in good time on the Thursday afternoon, it was 25 degrees and Hector settled in to his stable/tent as if he had done it all before! He was so calm, happy and never looked at a single thing that was going on in the lorry park or stable blocks. I rode him on the Friday morning in my astride saddle. He behaved as if he was at home. I almost couldn’t believe how well he was going and taking this all in, he is such a cool dude! Popped the side saddle on, on Friday evening, and again, he was epic! There was a funfair right by the side of our arena, but you could get reasonably close to it from the warm up area, and Hector didn’t bat an eye. He was very chilled in his stable which meant we could head off and enjoy the show not worrying too much. He enjoyed his regular leg stretches and grass breaks out of his stable with my mum (better known as feeder of snacks) and genuinely seemed to be enjoying his holiday at Blair. As Saturday came around I was getting more and more nervous for Sundays classes. I rode him in sideways on Saturday evening, then set to work cleaning my tack and habit/boots and most importantly, plaiting and cleaning Hector! As we were getting him ready I noticed a slight bit of swelling on the outside of his right hind leg. There were lots of poo stains on that side, so I knew he had been lying on it. I thought he had maybe just bumped it, or it had filled up from standing in the box, and that it might go down as he moved around more. We finished getting everything ready for Sunday and headed home to our Air B&B for the last night.

Unfortunately, when we arrived on Sunday morning, Hectors leg was absolutely huge! I went to get the show vet and mum took him for some grass. He wasn’t sore or reacting to me touching the leg at all thankfully. The vet was quite happy that it wasn’t any tendon/ligament damage, he wasn’t lame and she said it was possibly just a bit of cellulitis. She said I could have still ridden in my classes but, showing.. with a fat leg? Never going to go down well! So with my dreams truly squashed, we popped Hector back into his stable with his antibiotics and anti inflammatories, and enjoyed the last few hours of the show before stretching his legs and heading home again. I was really disappointed to have not been able to compete, but to watch and cheer on my fellow side saddle riders and get home safely with my horse at the end of the day was fab. It was a fantastic experience none the less, as I now know he can safely stable away from home, and that he behaves like an absolutle diamond while doing so. I have so much love for Hector! By the Monday morning back home, his leg looked completely normal again! I kept up the antibiotics just incase, but it may not have even been cellulitis at all. I’m just glad he’s okay.

Hector at Blair 2021!

Hector had a quiet week after his holiday to Blair, and I then picked him back up again with one week to practice for the Scottish Riding Club championships, for which I had agreed to be on a team for! We were in a 70cm jumping team, and a riding test team for our local club, Findon. I had a jump at home at the beginning of the week, which went reasonably well but Hector was lacking energy and oomph. I then went over to my instructors for what I hoped would be a good confidence building lesson on the Thursday, but the grass was wet and I was a bit nervous to really drive him into fences. He needs me to put my leg on and tell him to go, so it was a bit of a mess really. So with preparations not going as I had hoped, I was a total bag of nerves coming into the event, and I wished I had put more time into practicing. It was an early start, leaving the yard at 630am.

We arrived in good time again (always a good way to start the day!) and I headed off to find out where my arenas were, walk my course, find a team saddlecloth and get my hat tagged! The ground was a little uneven and very wet as I walked my course, which didn’t boost my confidence any! But I had a good, positive warm up, I made sure I really rode into the fences and tried to keep my hands up to keep Hectors head up. He has a tendency to pull his head right down and get a look at the fences on the last stride, which either pulls me forward or I end up letting my reins slip so I don’t get pulled down, and it all just ends up in a mess! We entered the ring and I took him straight up to the last fence to get a look at it, it was a big white board with multicoloured stripes. I had a feeling he wouldn’t like it! I kicked my way round the first 8 fences, it must have been dreadful to watch as I growled my way round trying to convince Hector not to stop at every single fence! But we made it to the dreaded last fence and…had two refusals, though I made it mean more to me and we got over the fence the third time! I was really pleased, even though we had 2 stops, Hector had jumped the first 8 fences, most of which had a ladder or plank underneath them which he had never seen before. Some of the spreads were also wider than I would have been practicing with at home. So I was chuffed we had done it! Next stop was my riding test, I was due on 10:52 and my second round of jumping was supposed to be at 11:01, I was never going to make that time but tried not to stress about it. I got warmed up for my riding test and then on checking with the steward it turned out they were ready for me early, so I headed in. I was so so pleased with how Hector went, it was *supposed* to be judged entirely on my riding, but ended up mistakenly being judged as dressage. Though I was pleased with how he went, the judge hadn’t agreed, which is always a difficult pill to swallow. However, I didn’t want one judges opinion to dampen my spirits. After all, the judge doesn’t know how far we have come, how hard we have worked to get to where we are, and that for us, that was a really good ride. But its hard not to be disappointed when a perfectly square halt only gets a 6!! Ha ha..

Second round of jumping to finish, the fences go up a hole or two (I tried not to think about that too much) and arrived in the warm up with only one horse to jump before me. I quickly popped a few fences and was called into the arena. I had popped my spurs on this time, and was determined to make this a smoother round. Hector really perked up, he knew I meant business this time and he had already had his opportunity to look at all the fences the first time round. He absolutley flew into every fence in the second round, he had so much more energy and we made it round with just 2 poles falling. I wasn’t worried about poles, I wanted to get round and improve on our first round, and that we absolutley did. I was beaming and let out a woop as I crossed the finish. So proud of my pony!! Luckily, as a team of 4 the lowest score is discarded and my amazing team were brilliant… they were able to discard my score and go on to win! There were so many teams entered so that really was an awesome achievement for them.

Hector giving the fences some height!

Next on the agenda for us are our favourite local hunter pace again, and the Caledonian Showing Championships. We qualified earlier this summer and I have entered 4 classes on the Saturday, including the side saddle and costume classes which will be held in the evening performance, which I’m really looking forward to.

After that, I reckon our show season will be wrapped up and we’ll knuckle down and get stuck into some winter training. I am determined to improve my jumping position, its just terrible!! And lessons are the best way to get confident and improve. We’ll likely attend some local winter leagues too, dressage and jumping if and when we can. 

I start my new job next week and I am thoroughly looking forward to that. Before I go.. I know you’ve all been wondering, how many bags of Honeychop can you fit in a Qashqai? Well.. the answer is… at least 12!! I was delighted to pick up my order for winter last weekend, and also more delighted I managed to fit it all in my car! I collected my usual Lite and Healthy, some Calm and Shine and also the newest product, Topline and Shine, which I havent had a chance to see yet. Im so looking forward to testing this product out. I’ll be sure to share my feedback!

Until next time! Have a lovely month.

Grace & Hector x

Looking swish in our Honeychop saddlecloth
A car full of Honeychop
Collection day!