My blog this time is very much revolving around my biggest achievement so far in the eventing world, having taken part in the first Leg of the Event Rider Master (ERM) series held at Chatsworth International Horse Trials. My Horse Continuity (Brad) has been with me for over 8 years and we have very much learnt together, having taken him to Pony Club camp, PC rallies, Area competitions and all the way up through the levels of British Eventing to where he is now. This story really seemed to resonate with the ERM team and it was commented on during the event how hard Brad tried for me and the bond we must have. Upon watching the coverage back I did become a little emotional to see the happy expression on Brads face and the effort he put in the whole way round a fantastic cross-country track, which had many challenges. We travelled up the M1 on Friday 12th getting to Chatsworth in time to settle Brad in and then head down to the showground to meet the ERM team and have some green screen filming and information gathering done to be used in the coverage throughout the weekend. After the unfamiliar meet and great I headed off to give Brad a hack before his dressage tomorrow.
Saturday Morning and we are second horse into the arena, through an arch way, our name on the big screen with Talyor Swift and Clean Bandit (my choices) being played during my test. I struggled to settle Brad to how we would normally want him before his test, so I was unsure what I was going to get in front of the judges and as it turned out, a 53.2 was very fair considering his trot work lacked its usual beautiful swing and suppleness, a croup high change, an unscheduled change of lead and an un-square halt. I was very pleased with him especially once I saluted and noticed the huge number of people watching his test. The rest of Saturday was spent with watching other tests, grazing Brad, cycling the course by myself and then walking it with Harry Meade which was massively insightful and helpful. Oh and perfecting the art of Buggy gliding (holding on to a buggy whilst on my bike for effort free travel) to and from the showground and stables.
Sunday and it gets real! Show jumping course proved tricky for the first 7 horses with no clears and one particular double claiming a pole with most combinations, I was eighth horse in. We both worked together to leave the ring with just a pole at the infamous double at the end of the course and three time faults. I was stupidly happy, giving Brad loads of praise and left the ring with a massive grin on my face, my mind was very much focusing on the final challenge that laid ahead of us. I must have gone through the course 20 times in my head as well as a third time in person that afternoon to see how it was riding for the 3*.
Cross-country, cross-country, cross-country!!, The course became stronger as it went on, so I was mindful to have plenty of energy left for the combinations towards the end. Having said that we only got 2.8 time faults which was highlighted by the commentators as being a very quick time as well as other comments such as, “He just looks for the flags”, “Saw a stride there”, “Making it happen”, “He’s really going for it”. I couldn’t have asked for more as Brad really came to life and jumped a fab round, I could have certainly been better in a couple of places but for our second 3* I was ecstatic! Brad recovered very quickly with lots of water thrown over him whilst I went and did an interview with Alice Fox-Pitt.
16th from a 36th ranking was our end result and highest placed British male which I don’t think will happen very often. Walking off cool boots and hosing all done Brad rested and we went to watch the rest of the horses complete the ERM. Brian Findlay a super sponsor took some great pictures during the day and even treated me to a happily received cider. Massive experience done and I can only praise and thank the ERM for putting on such a great Show and letting me take part.
On another note Anton our 4yr from Monart Sales is going great guns, riding out in the big set aside field by himself working into a confident contact and learning the ropes very quickly. Earthy the ex-race horse is also making exciting progress having had his first jump a couple of days ago and being pretty careful with his lovely little feet.
Great times with great people and of course wonderful animals. Enjoy your season everyone and crack on!!
This blog comes courtesy of tweed fashion brand Timothy Foxx www.timothyfoxx.co.uk
Photos Courtesy Of Brian Findlay Photography