Last year was going well after I bought Blue in Feb; we got to know each other, had some lessons, xc schooled, and got placed showjumping and in hunter trials as well as completing our first ODE together. Then he threw a splint, just as we were about to enter out first BE90, and it effectively put us out for the rest of the event season.
Now – at the time, all I wanted was starting British Eventing and to get us both some experience at that level under our belt. I was gutted and felt like my year was a write-off, which wasn't the case at all. Whilst BE still remains my aim for this season, my mindset has now altered slightly; my approach to 2014 is to look at the bigger picture.
My sole priority is to remember to do what I love and enjoy it; isn’t that why I started after all? Eventing is just one part of that. With that in mind, 2014 aims are a handful of things rather than just the one.
1) Get out of the school wherever possible! Ok in winter I am often restricted to the school as I need the floodlights to ride after work, but as I learned from Vittoria Panizzon, constant drilling is not the answer; lots of hacking and fitness work will help to give a happy, healthy horse and I’m sure this way you get more out of your sessions when you do jump or do flatwork. Plus it’s much more fun for bth horse and rider!
2) I sometimes think that having too many lessons can be counterproductive; again a desire to improve and be better means I have had loads of training, but sometimes I feel like I’ve not had enough time to work on things in between times, and that maybe we’d be better off having fewer lessons and remembering my own natural riding instinct and feel, having lessons to work on specific things instead. So perhaps fewer lessons, more clinics / xc schooling and fun stuff!
3) Join a local British Riding Club and enjoy their events, training, and team competitions if possible.
4) Take part in British Dressage TeamQuest with a group of friends from my yard.
5) For Blue, compete both unaffiliated and BE ODE’s, as well as local unaffiliated SJ, dressage, HT etc.
6) For Ruby, her sacroiliac problem has actually been successfully resolved, but there is still an underlying issue with her left side that has been picked up by thermal imaging. Aim is to complete vets advice once thoroughly discussed, and then hopefully she
can improve with her dressage and start competing SJ and XC too. Once treatment is complete, she needs to get on with clinics and really get her jumping established. It would be lovely if we could do a BE80 by the end of the season.
7) Have fun. Don’t take it too seriously and don't worry if something goes wrong, just ride your own race regardless of others. Have competitive aims rather than plans, because life doesn’t always go according to plan – especially where horses are concerned! Try to smile when doing dressage and look less terrified. Try not to collect another bay horse.
One quote I read in 2013 from the brilliant Lucinda Green really stuck with me, and is something that fits really well with my 2014 aims, so I leave you with this pearl of wisdom from her;
“Never forget you are riding because you love it, and if you do not love it any more, do not do it.
“One of the things my father used to say to me when I was younger and nervous before a big competition, was to remember that I did it for fun. Once you actually start remembering that, it suddenly seems a lot less scary.
“At any level of competing you will go up and you will go down, there will be good days and not so good ones. The secret is to concentrate on the good ones and do not dwell on the bits that go wrong.”
Lucinda Green – Blenheim International Horse Trials Supplement to the Oxford Times, August 2013.