Firstly I would like to apologise for the lack of communication over the last few weeks. No computer access, along with working 7 days a week (6 at Carls and my ‘day off’ at Clarke Johnston’s - teaching) has left me a little depleted of time and, to be honest, energy. However, learning so much from riding all these amazing horses, and working for the kindest, funniest man in the world, makes it all worthwhile.
Now let’s start at the beginning!
We had a great start to our competition campaign with top results at Myerscough Premier League show. I still have to flick myself to make sure I’m not in a dream. Arvan travelled in style in Carl’s lorry. Charlotte Dujardin helped me warm up on the Saturday night. Carl Hester travelled 4 hours to warm Charlotte and myself up on the Sunday. I also had Wonder groom Alan Davies plaiting, grooming and organising the crazy Kiwi! SENSATIONAL support and yes, I am incredibly lucky!
Unusually the freestyle was before the grand prix test. Having never ridden the test to the new music before, I was very pleased with 71% and a win! A little miss-timing at the conclusion of the test, with the music still going while Arvan remained quietly in halt required a little "Kiwi" intervention. In good fun, I dropped the reins and did a "bop" in time with the music! Luckily the spectators loved the new addition, and many of the riders feel I might have created a serious new form of freestyle.
The grand prix the following day was mistake free, with good passage/Piaffe, but it didn’t have quite the sparkle of the freestyle. A solid 66.38 for 3rd placing.
Our next show was local at Abbey, and having an Olympic level judge gave the English-based riders the opportunity for the percentage to count as a national score towards qualification for London Olympics. Arvan went great, with the Olympic judge having him in the 70s, and a total score of 68.03 PHEW! One more step towards London!! Totally on track. So I thought!!!!!!!!!!!
But what goes up must come down, and since then the wheels have fallen off! We have had what they call ‘delayed Equine Jet lag’ caused by the change of Hemisphere.
In simple terms, Arvan went very flat, lost weight, got a foot abscess and managed to get himself on forced rest! Thank goodness I have been lucky enough to continue to ride Carls amazing horses, with Carl helping me with the Grand Prix movements. I cannot again stress how very privileged and lucky I am. Carl is truly the kindest, nicest person I have ever met, and his generosity is beyond words.
I unfortunately then had to scratch from Addington 3 star, and then get Arvan humming and back in full work, only to suffer another minor injury. This now sees me scratching from my next international competition in Hagan. Arvan needs to be hand walked for 10 days before resuming full work!
Yes I am now grey-haired, and the lightest weight I have been in years!
This now leaves me unable to attend the international competitions previously outlined in my selection plan, with available international shows being scarce. Carl has outlined other possible competitions, such as the Premier League show at Sommerford Park. It is to be judged by international Olympic judge Stephen Clarke along with 2 other international judges. Compeigne International in France is also a possibility. However, New Zealand is still on the waiting list for this competition.
It is moments like this I can’t thank all my sponsors and supporters enough. Josephine Giles Dancy from National Saddle Centre flew from NZ to London to fit Arvan to a new saddle. You are beyond incredible. Tina Thoroughgood at Vetpro has been helping me out with all my veterinary needs. Also a special thank you to Kumeu Vets, Auckland for supplying Arvan with Blud sachets. Tina, I am lucky to have someone with your knowledge behind me with moments like these. NRM supply Arvan and my NZ based team with their top quality feed requirements. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you.
Lucky for me that Cavallo supply me with all my riding attire. Especially important with the filming of Horse and Country’s (part 2) of ‘At home with Carl Hester’. And yes, I do feature! Watch this space!!!!!
Onto a more feathery note!
Easter saw the arrival of baby chickens at the barn. (Carl has a special bond with not only horses but birds of the feathery type.) This might seem normal, but prior to the little darlings’ arrival, one cold Saturday morning, Carl, upon inspecting his hens nest, found the mother hen missing, but the eggs still warm. My good friend Dan Hammond and I were quickly instructed to wrap all the eggs up, take them to his house, make them a bed on his stove, squirt them with water, but “DON’T cook them!” Painstakingly the task was achieved, only to find that the chicken was back on the nest, looking for her missing eggs! All eggs were returned to the nest, with no hardboiled amongst them. Dan did pass comment that even a chicken needs to have a little toiletry Carl!! So my skills are widening even outside the equine industry!
Well, time to sign off. I promise to let you know my plans, as soon as Carl and I have heard back from Dressage NZ and Arvan returns back to full work!
Toddle Pip from good old Blighty (very English, eh what?).