The last time I wrote I was just preparing for the long journey to Badminton with Kayleigh Nicholls Myspires Another Star and Joanne Pullan’s Diamonte, I always think it’s such a lovely event to attend and it’s such a great adventure for the young ones. It was an exceptionally wet experience but we had smiles all round with Myspires Another Star winning the first 4y/o qualifier of the season. It was totally unexpected but equally thrilling to pick up that much sought after Burghley place so early in the season. It was also made very special as all the people who have played such a huge part in producing her to this stage were all there to see it; her breeder Lianne Verity made the long journey from Sussex and her owner Kayleigh and good friend Jorden Slack were very much our support team for the day. Diamonte’s performance was a good one but unfortunately, the judge’s scores left us scratching our heads.
After the long journey home it was straight onto to preparing Freddie for his BE that weekend, after our slightly disappointing experience at Bradwell I was hopeful he had learned enough to get us a better result. In true Sam style, we were late arriving so a quick sprint around the cross country and a short dressage warm up and we were off. His test felt so easy and smooth and he jumped a super showjumping section so I was already pleased with his way of going but then on the cross country he found a new gear and some self-confidence. We finished on a great score of 27.3 and won our section.
No time to celebrate just yet though as from here it was quickly home to prepare Sally Iggulden’s Daria I Noor for his BD 4y/o competition the following day. He did us proud finishing 3rd to a Mount St John in 1st and a Woodlander in 2nd!! Talk about keeping good company.
A busy week catching up on everything followed and also preparing for Chatsworth. We knew Diamonte was good enough but I felt we needed to work on her not holding her breath in a big atmosphere. We changed our tactics slightly and she felt so much better, still not as fabulous as I know she can be but she tried so hard in the 5y/o qualifier. The top 10 was a really close call with all 10 only separated but a few points, so even going in leading I knew it was whoever this judge liked best, luckily it was Diamonte, her Gallop was described as ‘rapid’ I was thrilled to be able to get another Burghley ticket in so early. Myspires Another Star made another appearance, we decided that the atmosphere at Chatsworth was very different to the previous week so felt she would learn from the occasion, she was as always exceptional and I felt she had learnt so much from Badminton. She finished 2nd by a narrow margin but I don’t think I can complain at two tickets in two shows.
A slight change of scenery the following week as we headed off with Freddie and Dayton for the Petplan regionals. I had decided that focusing on BD with Freddie as well as eventing was a great way to keep us focused on what had previously been a difficult phase for us. One silly mistake at the end of the test when he tripped up cost us and left us in 2nd place, still good enough to qualify us for the next round though with 72%. Big D didn’t disappoint either, we had originally planned on this being a practice run as it was only our third outing at medium level but he was on absolute flying form and gave me the best possible ride to get a personal best, we have only a few tests under our belt at this level with 69%. Jasmine and Silktown Magnolia also swooped disciplines to compete at these regionals and they also had a brilliant time finishing in 2nd place with 72%.
The following week was definitely the calm before the storm, with last minute Physio and training in place the next two weeks promised to be rather wild!! With 11 shows in 16 days, all with different horses planning was crucial. We kicked off at Hambleton with Daria and a new ride; Judy Bradwell’s Roving On, who we collected him just 5 days before. Both boys were little superstars, both having their first jumping shows and both just being amazing; we went into the top 10 in 1st and 3rd but unfortunately dropped to 4th and 5th. It was a great confidence giving outing for us all and had given us a kick up the backside on what to tweak before their next qualifier in a couple of days time.
Onto Bishop Burton for the real deal with Freddie and Inola Smith’s Upsalls Lorna. It was great to be reunited with this little diva for the weekend. Freddie was just awesome, he led from the start with 26.5 dressage and flew both the jumping phases which seemed to be causing a few problems. Lorna was also a little superstar scoring a fabulous 26 and jumping beautiful but it was definitely a sack the jockey cross-country round to finish with time penalties which dropped me to 2nd place, it wouldn’t be quite as bad if Lorna wasn’t the fastest horse I ride. A quick turnaround again and a ridiculously early start saw us head off to Shelford with Diamonte for the first BE 5y/o qualifier. We were winging it a little with no cross country practice at all since her last outing at Osberton last October. Hitting 5y/o has definitely changed her for the better and she seemed to know exactly what her job is and was very lit up by the occasion. She also scored 26, (we decided that that must be my new favourite score), she was also double clear but again sack Sam, I only went and set my watch wrong and got time penalties again! I was gutted and the wait for the end of the section seemed endless; I was dreading owning up to Joanne about my serious blonde moment! Luckily we were good enough to finish 2nd as the jumping phases proved tricky so we qualified for the finals which is great as we can save her a little now and let her enjoy some summer downtime. The following day was a first for me as I was the driver and groom. James did a great job piloting my own, Kayleigh and Jorden’s Grand By Design round his first event for a super educational experience and Jasmine rode Susannah Franks B Silktown Magnolia round her first 100 for a top 10 placing. With tiredness slowly starting to take over we really had to get a grip for the Yorkshire sport horse show; Tessa Nelsons Blinkbonny Wild Child was anything but what her name suggests and started the day with a lovely performance. Daria I Noor was outstanding, well except when a car drove through a puddle at speed mid dressage test. Roving On as always took everything in his stride, Daria won after a fantastic ride in the top 10 showing the judges his exceptional gallop, Roving On finished 5th but after only having him 10 days I still felt I needed to make a few adjustments.
With not a moment to rest we headed off to Manor Grange with Dayton and another new ride Lynn Burwell’s Milo, having only ridden Milo once I was thrilled to finish with a win and a 3rd place both with novice qualifying scores and a rather exuberant Dayton also won his tests with great qualifying scores. Next up was Messingham; this show has always been one of my favourites for showjumping as it has a lovely atmosphere and the horses always learn so much. The day kicked off with Amy Hardman’s Finn, Lisa Buttons Into the Wylde and Eliza and Joanne Yeardley’s Duncan all doing beautiful rounds in the novice and discovery classes. Lynn’s Milo won his class and then Jorden Slacks Farah won star pupil after winning both the 120 and 130 classes.
The one we had been working towards was next, Bramham, with four days, planned it was always going to be a busy one. I contested my first working hunter class on the Thursday with Amy Hardman’s Finn, my only instruction being to get a good picture, I think I did! Friday is still a bit of a blur, we decided that another big outing on Diamonte could prove educational and as she was entered we decided it would be ideal, she was just unreal, leading the whole way through with almost top marks everywhere finishing the competition on a massive score of 93/100. I feel so lucky to have the ride on this special lady and I’m so excited for the future with her although she is now happily out enjoying a well-deserved summer holiday. The 4y/o class allowed Blinkbonny Wild Child and Into the Wylde enjoy their moment in the big arena and learn lots to put towards their futures. Judy Bradwell’s Roving On really really excelled himself to finish 2nd with a great mark which was actually the same as the winners although their jump score was slightly higher, he will now focus on the BE 4y/o classes with Myspires Another Star. We used Saturday as an experience for both Freddie and Farah, it was a big ask for Freddie with the jumping being 125 and he has only ever done two 120 classes in his life, he was a little unlucky to role a pole but as always with these young horses every experience sets them up further in their careers, it’s not all about winning every time, although it’s nice to, sometimes a good experience is all that you can expect. Farah was a little machine as always and now heads to Lincoln. Saturday also saw Jasmine and Magnolia contest another BE100 class, they improved again on their last outing this time to finish 3rd in their section, this combination really are ones to watch out for.
I have to admit to being rather wiped out by Saturday afternoon so having Sunday to chill out, shop and drink champagne was a rather refreshing experience.
Just this week we have again welcomed some new faces to the yard so we now look forward to starting on a new plan and hopefully I will have lots of exciting things to report back next month.
Bye for now Sam