Having won sponsorship for the year with my fantastic trainer Sharon of Kilminster Equestrian Ltd, we both knew that there would be lots of hard work ahead, and hopefully plenty of success too. However, the first 6 months of the year were really about 1 thing alone; partnership – namely that between me and 4 legged friend Willo. We spent many sessions training, working with him, and making inroads, but it was obvious that Willo just wasn’t the schoolmaster we had hoped he was. We had some really fantastic Eureka sessions, and some brilliant results out competing, but after a year of persevering it was certainly not getting easier – and a very interesting first BE90 together ended up with a fall across country that no doubt knocked my confidence. We had some tough times after that, and after much soul searching we decided that Willo was not the horse for me. We ploughed on until he was continuing to make progress, and getting us both jumping happily again, but we were very sure that it was the right decision for both horse and rider.
I learnt so much from Willo, had some brilliant moments winning both xc and sj in style, and our flat work was always a challenge but there were visible improvements – both seeing our marks creep up, and also from a training perspective. I was keen to keep my eyes on the prize and keep training and competing after he went, despite the circumstances. I was lucky enough to continue having both flat and jump lessons on a friends horse, Jake the lovely warmblood, which has allowed me to continue training with Sharon at a level that Ruby is not quite capable of yet, culminating in comments like ‘I’d be very pleased to see that in a novice test’ and ‘with a bit more elevation that wouldn’t look out of place at elementary.’ As someone who always been a jumper at heart, dressage is still new to me, so to hear those kind of comments has been fantastic – a testament to Sharon’s training. Yep it’s official, I actually enjoy dressage! I’ve also been riding another friends horse Daisy, a tricky character as she can be a handful, but very honest with it and an absolute jumping machine! I’ve enjoyed helping to establish her flatwork better as well as schooling over fences, and in just a few shows we have come away with some rosettes or at worst having just 1 pole down in 3’0” classes, as well as easily jumping round the open xc course at our local uk chasers. Really pleasing results, and something that I would never have had the confidence or skills to do a year ago. Again, a testament to Sharon’s training.
Meanwhile in the background, Ruby has been just ticking over. We still have an issue in her 1 sidedness which we are currently investigating thoroughly thanks to my vets and insurance company, but she has been making steady progress in between physio. In fact, having just Ruby has been a bit of a breakthrough for us both!
Comparing her to the horse she was at the beginning of the year she’s quietly come so far and matured greatly. Her breeding has really started to shine through recently by introducing her to jumping. We took her xc schooling for the first time with Sharon, and she was just unbelievable – jumped everything asked of her with massive enthusiasm and far exceeded everyone’s expectations, even jumping a few elements from the open course! This is no doubt where her talent and heart lies, and ironically when jumping although strong, we have managed to get some really nice balanced, light canter work. Lots of hacking, hill work, and cantering whilst out has helped to develop different muscle and I’m seeing the benefit in her work.
Sharon and I have a sj session planned at home before heading to a local venue to have a play over a course of fences, so watch this space. All being well it may not be all that long before Ruby is out doing some little courses. She has masses of scope so it’s really between the fences that we will need to work on. Sharon has some brilliant clinics coming up too that we’re planning to attend, and a great fun xmas event that will be a great introduction to a competition type environment but without the pressure.
2012 has certainly been challenging; there have been trainer injuries, rider injuries, wonky horses, and mismatched partnerships, but throughout we have kept our focus, and where there’s a will there’s a way; we made the best of what we had and kept the Kilminster Equestrian name out and about. We finish the year with some lessons learned, my confidence soaring, my knowledge broadened, and safe in the knowledge that selling Willo was absolutely the right thing to do, even if it was hard at the time. I’ve since ridden a variety of horses, none of whom could be described as easy, but with some great results, I can work many different horses consistently in an outline, jump happily and confidently, without any of the issues we had together. Sharon told me many times that the problems we were having were not down to me, but as a rider you always tend to think that it must be because of something you’ve done wrong, but as always she was right, and my experiences in the saddle since have evidenced that.
I think it would be fair to say that we are both excited about Ruby’s future, and even despite having her ‘wonky’ issues she is really developing into a lovely horse with a bright future. Some real flashes of ‘wow’ moments on show lately. Sharon and I will continue to work closely together throughout 2013 and beyond, and with her extensive and sound knowledge I am sure there will be lots of exciting things to come as Ruby starts her career and who knows - maybe even a rosette or 2?! Perhaps Ruby will turn out to be the super little eventer I’ve been searching for? Watch this space. ..
Sharon; thanks for giving me such a fabulous opportunity as a sponsored rider, the benefits of which I will continue to see in years to come, being much more accomplished in the saddle. Thanks for your continued support and mentoring, friendship, knowledge, training and endless patience. It means a lot to know you have always kept faith in me throughout even when I doubted myself, and Ruby and I look forward to representing #TeamKilminster in 2013 and beyond. It’s been emotional!