What an exciting weekend at Burghley! I must say after watching the course walk preview with Alice Fox-Pitt and Mark Phillips a few weeks ago I was slightly concerned about some of the horse and rider combinations attempting to tackle the course.
Rule number one don’t make plans with horses. Rule number two, definitely don’t make plans with chestnut mares
Thursday, July 14 2011 by
It’s embarrassing to admit, but my bags from the test event are still on the floor of my bedroom, waiting to be unpacked! Since I got home it has been non-stop. I got home Wednesday night and when I arrived at the yard Thursday morning everyone had left to go to Barbury International, leaving a list of around 10-12 horses to ride. I can’t complain though because I love it! Getting paid to ride nice horses everyday will always be a privilege. Anyways, back to the test event. I just want to say that I am so proud of my little mare’s performance. The results don’t do her justice! She did a lovely dressage test with only a few green mistakes but unfortunately she had her tongue sticking out the entire time and therefore received quite a harsh mark. The cross country was a breeze except coming down to the water where tons of little kids and dogs came running up to the string screaming “horsey!” She got a bit distracted and had a hesitation at the drop in and got 20 penalties. (Because tickets to the test event were scarce, the majority of the fans were completely non-horsey people who lived local to Greenwich Park. They were invited to attend the event as a sort of peace treaty to try to get the local community to be more supportive.) Another reason my mare may have hesitated at the water could have been do to the fact that she fell in the water just the weekend before the test event! At Salperton Horse Trials she hung a leg at the fence in the water and fell properly. We were both okay but it was definitely not ideal as a last run. And, to make matters worse, or at least comical, the fence where Bree had her fall at Salperton, was the exact fence that they put in the water at the test event! They literally moved the thing from Salperton to the water at Greenwich! While walking the course with Captain Mark Phillips and the rest of the team USA gang, I casually explained to my good friend Sinead Halpin the situation and then asked if it was appropriate to make a joke about it! She laughed and said it was not appropriate so no joke was made to the Captain. Luckily Bree picked up her feet this time so now we can all laugh about it. Phew! Finally, Bree jumped well in the show jumping and we just had one down, which was my fault. Some of the signs from the not-so-happy Greenwich protesters outside the park entrance. It was an amazing experience to be apart of the team at the test event and I feel that it was very educational for both Bree and me. For the first time since Bree landed in January, I felt like we were on the same page, which is what’s most important for us right now. I’d like to say a big thank you to my wonder groom and dear friend Alex Van Tuyll and all the new friends that I met that were supportive and fun to spend the week with at Greenwich. Oh and Toddy of course for saving me from almost elimination in the cross country warm-up when he realized that I had the wrong spurs on and lent me his! Goofing off and probably embarrassing Princess Bree during grazing time.
Friday, July 08 2011 by
It wasn’t perfect but it was definitely a great experience for Bree and I. Her are some photos with lots of comments to follow!
Life across the pond has been complete madness! Today went something like this: Rode my young horse, jumped two young horses for Laura Collett, took one of Laura’s to the gallops, came back and took Bree to the gallops, jumped yet another young one for Laura and then, oh wait, can’t forget about getting Harvey to the pool for his swimming workout! It’s all getting a bit crazy but don’t worry too much, we have Laura’s mom forcing tea down our throats at least every half an hour. Too be honest, I’m surprised we don’t spend the entire day in the loo with all of the tea that we drink! I couldn’t be happier. The horses are on top form, the Collets have been amazing to work with and I am at my best when working long days with nice horses and that’s exactly what I’m doing. Harvey, my advance horse, relaxing in the spa. He goes in the spa everyday except on days when he has to do his swimming workouts!
Thank goodness the worm has turned! This past week has brought some serious changes. After a few days of feeling sad about my perfect little advanced horse being injured I quickly realized that I now had to figure out how I was going to pay for his vet bills. I also had to come to grips with the fact that my little operation of three horses competing was not paying for itself. With these two motivating factors I did what I thought was the only option . . . call everyone I know asking for riding work! Luckily my prayers were answered and my friend Laura Collet offered me a job producing her young horses. And, even better, she has now said I can move my horses to her amazing yard just up the road so that all of the horses I need to ride will all be in one place . . .
Monday, May 23 2011 by
In horses you know you need to be careful when everything seems to be going quite well. With all three of my horses going well, great house, great boyfriend, great weather, things were bound to have a turn for the worse. I had my two top horses, Bree and Harvey, entered at Hambleden in the open intermediate a few weekends ago. Harvey was a little machine with an amazing 27 in the dressage and no jump penalties in the show jumping or the cross country. If you knew Harvey personally, you would understand that achieving a 27 in the dressage is verging on miracle status. I had people coming up to me the rest of the day and sending me messages . . . “How did you get Harvey to start playing the game on the flat?!” I am not entirely sure why my little superstar advance horse has decided at the young age of 15 to embrace dressage, but I am not about to start asking questions! With Harvey on great form and a text message from William Fox-Pitt saying “Go Harvey!” I was already beginning to finalize my last big gallops before Bramham CCI 3*. This elated feeling soon left me when poor Harvey didn’t trot up sound and the vet got out the ultrasound machine. To make a sad story at least a bit short, Harvey and I will not be able to compete at Bramham in a few weeks and my days are now resigned to hand grazing, icing, and rolling bandages. As the Brits say: “I’m gutted!” Poor Harvey is all clipped and ready for a party! As if things weren’t bad enough, my car broke down and I was forced to drive Roberta, my trustee lorry, back and forth from the yard for the better half of a week. Thank goodness for Roberta and my good friends Katherine and Giovanni for managing to get me out to the yard everyday! Getting back to Miss Bree . .
Saturday, May 07 2011 by
After a fairly anticlimactic result for the Americans and the Canadians at Badminton, I am so excited for some of the horse and rider combinations from Rolex last weekend. Most notably for me are the performances from Rebecca Howard (CAN) and Sinead Halpin (USA). Both Rebecca and Sinead have been good friends and mentors of mine for almost ten years and you couldn’t meet two riders that work harder or enjoy their horses more. I started working for Rebecca and Sinead when I was 17 years old in Middleburg, Virginia when they were partners in running Dunlavin Eventing
Monday, May 02 2011 by
All I can do is apologize for my extreme tardiness as it is now Sunday . . . almost a week after the prize giving at Badminton! It was over Monday afternoon, I then had an event on a young one Wednesday, lessons Friday afternoon and then a flight out Saturday. I am actually writing from sunny California! After having a good run at the CIC *** at Burnham Market a few weeks ago, I decided it was now or never if I wanted to go check up on my family before the season gets even more hectic! Badminton was nothing short than a dream come true for die-hard Mark Todd fans! (To be honest, I am becoming one of them!) At the start of cross country day, with good old Andrew Nicholson having an immaculate clear round inside the time, it was starting to look like Badminton would end up to be a dressage competition. Although after about the first five runs, problems started to occur all over the course, with many rider and horse combinations having issues at the sunken road. Possibly the most significant dilemma was how tired the horses were getting by the end of the course, localized around the quarry. This is where Oli’s horse fell and even Mark’s horse “Ben” (“Landvision) left both hind legs, only barely dragging them over the log with immense difficulty.
Friday, April 22 2011 by
Harvey and I at the first of two open corners on the CIC 3* course at Burnham Market. I'm sorry but look how sweet his expression is! This past weekend was quite an important weekend for me. I’m not actually sure if I mentioned this in an earlier blog but I had a bad fall at the end of last year in the three star up at Blair Castle in Scotland. Long story short my amazing little Harvey and I were three fences from home after having a great run and we ended up crashing through a ditch and palisade. To this day I have no idea what happened. Some people say that Harvey didn’t see the ditch because it was going from light to dark out of the woods and the light was in his eyes.