University brings new challenges; competing for a place in the Oxford University Equestrian Club Squad
As the event season has finished for Finnegan and I, we have started a new adventure down at Oxford where I have begun my first year of university. Although this brings new challenges, long holidays will hopefully allow us to get lots of eventing in!
Currently Finnegan has settled in very well at Imogen Gloag Eventing, who are the people who I bought Kidogo off 3 years ago! He is stabled about 40 mins away from me so Immi rides him a few times a week to keep him ticking over and I drive out 2/3 times a week to ride him. As he is not currently eventing, I am trying to reduce his fitness a bit so he is only being ridden about 4 times a week, mainly hacking. However over the next few weeks I will start upping his work level again and hopefully get out to a few local shows. I did notice that winter was kicking in today though as I had a bucking bronco experience in the yard upon mounting him, as the cold weather seemed to have him a little on edge.
Whilst Finnegan has been ticking over quietly I have been undergoing trials to be apart of the Oxford University Equestrian Club Squad. At BUCS events (Uni riding competitions) you are given a horse you have never seen before and have 7 minutes to warm up before doing a dressage test (upto BD Medium level). In the afternoon of an event you will be given a different horse and are allowed to jump 5 practice fences before going around a SJ course (upto 1.10/1.15), where each fence is judge out of 10.
At trials I was put on 5 different horses in the space of an hour, which was quite a novel experience. These horses ranged from 13.2hh ponies to big Irish hunters or polo ponies. So it took me a while to get used to quickly adapting to the different strides and energy levels particularly when jumping. Having spent this season solely on Finnegan who is very forward and sharp, it was a shock to the system being put on some horses that had zero intention of leaving the walk gate no matter how much I kicked, but it definitely made me appreciate Finnegan’s forward attitude the next time I rode him even if he does buckaroo around the yard first!
After a 2nd round of trials I have been selected to be part of the 2nd team for OUEC. SO from now on I have weekly squad riding and fitness sessions, as well as having contact time with a nutritionist and a psychologist, in order to understand more about optimising performance at events. My first BUCS event will be at Cherwell EC on 21st November.
Kidogo has also made a new friend at home with his new companion pony of Ebony, who seems to the first pony I’ve met that loves food even more than him!