You'll find regular blog updates below with all the very latest news and updates on everything that we have been up too!
Well the simple answer is yes and no! At the begining of the season I had rough ideas about what I wanted each horse to do, what events to run at and at what level. However I never put too much pressure on sticking to aims as at the beginning of 2010 I had my whole season planned out for both Roxie and Sabrina but that was very quickly aborted after my accident in February 2010 (See About Me), anway that horrible year is in the past now so lets start at the beginning of the 2012 season.....
Tweseldown (1) 2012
As we do most years we started the season off at Tweseldown as the ground is always good no matter how much rain we have! We finished the 2011 season so well I decided to start Roxie at Novice level. Roxie was very excited to be out and was a bit tense in the dressage and scored 38.0. She then SJ'd well but being back out on grass for the first time she ran on a little so had 3 down. XC she set of in a great rhythm and was jumping brilliantly until there was a slight rider error at skinny arrowheads which resulted in us having to circle between A & B parts! I wasn't too annoyed as it was the first event so we are both allowed to be a bit rusty!!
Goring Heath (1) 2012
After a few weeks of SJ practice on grass we headed off to Goring Heath at the end of March. Roxie did a super dressage to score 30.0, putting us near the top of the board :) She went on to jump a super double clear...the SJ practice had obviously worked! We did pick up a few time faults XC as I wanted to ensure we were both awake and prepared for the combinations! Result 3rd Place - 4 BE Points!
Hambleden International 2012
We then entered for the 1* at Hambleden International, I know it was very early on in the season for our first international but after such a great run at Goring, where the XC is always big and technical I felt we were more then ready. Roxie flew through the trot-up and performed a super test to score 50.2, which put us into 5th place in an arena of more than 60 competitors, most of them being professionals!! I was so pleased and couldn;t wait for the XC and SJ the following days.....but then the weather turned and the heavens opened resulting in them having to cancel the last two days of competition! I was devistated as although the XC was HUGE I couldn't wait to get out there and attack it!
After Hambleden being abandonned I was pleased to get a late entry into Nurstead
Court to do the IntermediateNovice but the weather wasn't giving in and Nurstead
too was abandonned!
Tweseldown (2) 2012
After Hambleden being abandonned I was pleased to get a late entry into Nurstead Court to do the IntermediateNovice but the weather wasn't giving in and Nurstead too was abandonned! Due to the sandy going I put an entry into the IntermediateNovice at Tweseldown, mid May. Roxie worked well in the dressage and as it was our first time running through an Intermediate test I was pleased when we scored 37.3. SJ was next and it was by far the biggest we had ever jumped together and the SJ at Tweseldown is always up to height! The SJ time was tight, with many competitors getting time faults so I pushed Roxie on in a forward rhythm which worked well to start but she got a bit too lively and had 3 down, but on a positive we didn't get any time faults! Now onto the XC and lets just say there were slight control issues and Roxie thought she knew best.....
Chilham Park UA 2012
Now this event was one we have been waiting for for the last 4 years! It was time for Milli to make her eventing debut at Chilham Park UA ODE. I just wanted to get her out and have a good run under our belt before we entered Lycetts qualifiers. Milli behaved really well and amazed us all! We scored 37.0 in our dressage and then Milli jumped a super double clear inside the time to finish in the lead!! We were all chuffed :) Result 1st Place!!
Eridge Park 2012
After Roxie's peformance at Tweseldown I seeked advice from one of my fantastic sponsors, Global Herbs, as Roxie suffers severly from unbalanced hormone levels! So, with her on an increased amount of FriskyMare Plus (aka wonder supplement) and the purchase of the most expensive bit i've ever brought we were hoping for miracles.....literally! The day started of well, or so we thought anyway! Roxie did a lovely test, exactly what I asked, when I asked but as I was last in my arena the judge had obviuosly had enough and scored us a harsh 41.5! Putting that behind us we headed oss SJ and Roxie jumped a super round and just tapped one down, personally I think it was the wind but heyho! Off we went XC and Roxie jumped a super clear for just 6.4 time faults, which was second fastest in my arena!
Stratford Hills 2012
Due to the 'lovely English weather' cancelling many events, including BCA I was desperate for another run before the RoR event at Barbury International so put a quick entry into Stratford Hills Novice. Roxie did a nice test to score 34.5 putting us in the top 10 :) She SJ'd really well and our new magicbit was working, we just picked up 4 faults which was good as there was only 3 clears in my arena! XC was a big, technical track and Roxie was flying round and I had full control.....felt like a nice change! Unfortunately as we turned to 16a and b she tripped on the gravel incline resulting in her grazing her knee and biting her lip so I decided to retire her as I wanted her fit and ready for Barbury a few weeks later.
Barbury Castle International 2012 - BYEH
As Barbury is quite a distance from home we decided to stay overnight with Roxie and because of this I decided to enter Milli in the BYEH 4 year old class. I thought it would be great for her to stay away aa well as being in the atmosphere at a big International Event.....not that it bothered Milli! She was such a good girl and performed really well in the dressage and jumped a super clear. She got the 5th highest mark in the SJ but her dressage mark wasn't good enough to put us in the placings. She did a lovely test but some of the other horses, being ridden by the professionals, looked like they could go out and win an Elementary the next day! Milli settled in her stable straight away and when I went out the next morning she was still lying down.....the long drive there and doing the BYEH class obviously tired her out!
Barbury Castle International 2012 - RoR
The next day was Roxie's turn and we were very excited to be competing against only ex-racehorses! The only down side was there was no limit on the grade of horse in the class and there was 6 horses entered that had done Badminton / Burghley so we were up against lots of stiff competition!! She performed a good dressage, still lots to improve on but it was only our second time running through the Intermediate 117 test and we scored 36.4 which put us in the top 20 out of over 50! The SJ was next and it was HUGE! Roxie jumped a great round but did have two down ufortunately.....the first fence and an upright after a very wide triple bar as we were just running on downhill a bit. The XC was next and it was very up to height and technical. It looked like a 1* / Intermediate track and was by far the toughest track we've done! Roxie flew round easily making it inside the time, I was so so pleased :) We finished in 15th Place.....had we not had our 8 faults SJ we would have been invited back to jump for the sreious money on the Sunday in the main arena.....one of my targets for next year now!
Tweseldown (3) 2012
As Milli was only doing what was technically like a showing class at Barbury I decided to enter her for the Lycetts 4 year old at Tweseldown the following week. Milli's dressage was super and we scored 33.0 which put us in the to 10. When we SJ'd Milli livened up quite a bit and she took hold between 2 and 3, which was already on a perfect 1/2 stride distance and needless to say she got a little bit too close and didn't snap her legs up in time so just the four faults to add. She learnt from our mistake so I wasn't too bothered as I want her to learn for the future. Milli flew around the XC course without even hesitating, well at the fences anyway! Everytime a fence judge blew their whistle she had a little paddy and spooked / bronked!! I was so pleased when we had finish to find out we finished in 6th Place!! :)
Brightling International 2012
Onto mid July, what should have been summer, but no, the rain wasn't giving in just yet! They cancelled the first day at Brightling and then decided to just run the International classes.....luckily Roxie and I were entered in the 1* so we still got to run and, lets just say it was by far the wettest / muddiest ground I have ever competed in! The dressage was OK considering the arena was about a foot deep in boggy mud where all the movements were to be done, which Roxie didn't like that much! We had got her all glitzed up and smart so she didn't want to play in the mud!! Bless her, we did score a respectable 57.1 :) The SJ wasn;t quite up to height because of the going and Roxie ran on a little, having two down but there were hardly any clears so 8 faults wasn't too bad! I still didn't know whether to run her XC because of the ground but the organisers did everything they could to make the ground rideable on so I decided to take her and although she didn't like the mud she flew round the 1* track easily inside the time to finish in 16th Place! We later found out she lost a frot shoe XC at fence 3 so I was pleased she jumped the rest so well considering the mud!
Chilham Park 2012
Next event was one of our local events Chilham Park and we were there both days with Roxie and Milli. It was Milli's turn first and she continued to improve and did a good dressage to score 37.0. She then an unlucky 4 faults SJ at what was the smallest fence on the course! Once again she flew around the XC and jumped a super clear to finish on 41.0 and in 4th Place!! A great result, but I have to admit we were all a little dissappointed as the XC commentator had read out the provisional result and said Milli had won! Note - do not to listen in future.....!!
Chilham Park 2012
Then it was Roxie's turn and we were entered in the Intermediate Novice section. Roxie did a good dressage and was beginning to listen slightly more as she didn't, and still doesn't know it all, and we scored 35.9. SJ was good and bad.....lets start with the bad, we had 12 faults, fence 1 again, exit of the triple and entrance to a 1 1/2 strided double! It was good as the week prior to Chilham I had a lesson with a new SJ coach and he completely changed the way I jump Roxie and altough we got 12 faults her rhythm was much more consistant and for once, she listened!! I knew by making these huge changes to the way I sj her wouldn't results in clears overnight but she is now jumping so much better :) XC Roxie flew around inside the time and made it feel like a walk in the park! Result 6th Place! So a good weekend at work with both horses in the prizes :)
Firle Place International 2012
After a few weeks at home we were back out eventing at the end of August and this time we were at Firle Place International oth days. First was Milli and it was her last chance to qualify for the Lycetts Championships. We did a cracking dressage to score 31.5! Then the rain started but Milli jumped a super clear SJ :) By the time i'd changed for XC the heavans had opened as you can see from the picture it was wet, wet, WET!!! The XC was by far the most technical XC Milli has ever seen..... there was skinnies, corners, angles, coffin complex' and the 4 year olds even had to jump into the water! Milli was flying, she didn't even hesitate when I asked her to jump into the water, well flying until we got to fence 12.....one of the smallest straightforward fences on the course! On the landing side of the fence there was a herd of black and brown cows hiding under some trees to shelter from the rain! Milli clearly thought they WERE going to kill her! Bless her! She picked up 60 penalties (2 stops) at this fence but even adding 60 pens to our dressage score was good enough for us to finish in 6th place! 4 combinations didn't even finish the XC.....tough course!
Firle Place International 2012
After drying out all my clothes we were back at Firle Place on the Sunday, this time with Roxie. Unusual for me, I like to be extra organised, but I was a bit late entering Firle and the 1* was full so I entered the ower rider Novice section. The XC course was a decent Novice track, but nothing that Roxie wouldn't do. Dressage first and Roxie was a very good girl and we scored 34.0. We got the comment ''lovely to waste but horse needs more umph'' noted for next event! SJ was next and after another lesson with the wonder coach we were really improving, so I was hoping for a good round. Roxie jumped brilliantly, she stayed in a lovely rhythm and, for once, listen to me! The last fence, a triple (Roxie's nemesis!) resulted in us finishing with 8 faults.....such a shame as the rest of the round was so much better! Anyway onto XC and Roxie went roud like a pro! She settled straight into a forward rhythm, was very polite so we covered the ground quickly.....a bit too quickly as we picked up 6 time faults for going too fast which put us out the placings! When I worked it out later, Roxie was travelling at Intermediate speed so the move up should be fine XC :)
Goring Heath (2)
After a quick week at home we were off to Oxfordshire for Goring Heath (2) with Roxie in the Intermediate Novice. This was our last prep run before we made our Intermediate debut at SofE a few weeks later. I worked hard to get more umph from Roxie in the dressage and some movements were super but she did get tense intermitently which drop us marks. We scored 40.0 which put us mid field.....the arena was judged more on the harsh side anyway. Next was the SJ and as always at Goring it as HUGE! I had squeezed in another SJ lesson and boy did it work.....we jumped a lovely clear! I was EXTATIC :) I wasn't sure whether to run her XC as she ran so well at Firle but the ground was super at Goring so I just took her steady, well what I thought was steady anyway, we only picked up 6.8 time faults! We did finish just outside the top 10 but I couldn't have asked for a better run before SofE.....
South of England International (2) 2012
Well the time had come, although slightly later in the season than originaly planned, but we were here, about to make our Intermediate debut at SofE Horse Trials. We were all very excited and I couldn't wait to get on with it! Dressage first and I tried Roxie in a double bridle after she had schooled really well at home in it after Goring. SHe performed a nice test but wasn't too happy about the weather.....rain and wind! We scored a respectable 40.9 which I was pleased with as you notice a BIG difference in the competitors when you move up to Intermediate.....they were ALL professionals on two or more horses! Moving on to the SJ and it made Goring's SJ track look like a 2'3'' course! It was full up 1.20/1.25m and was by far the biggest track we had ever jumped together. Don't get me wrong, I was hoping for a repeat of Goring Heath (2) but I was very pleased with our round as the 4 faults we picked up were completly rider error.....th last part of the treble was very short and Roxie went left to make more room and she cleared the fence but my left foot hit the wing out knowcking the pole down!! I then walked the XC and it was HUGE, the fences were big, wide, technical and, some, scary! Although it was going to be a big challenge there weren't any fences that I didn't think Roxie could jump so my adrenaline started to flow and I couldn't wait to get out there! As most of you know, the heavens opened and absolutely flooded the XC course so they had to abandon before the start of XC! I was GUTTED to say the least, but we were both safe for next season!
Talking of next year, we have some big plans for next season and hopefully another eventer joining the team, so keep checking back to see the latest News and my Blog 'Plans for 2013...' will be published soon :)
Back to 2012 and lets go back to the beginning of my Blog.....did I achieve what I wanted to achieve? Like I said earlier, yes and no!! Although I didn't get to complete my first Intermediate (due to the weather, we were more than ready!) or compete at the Lycetts Young Horse Championships, we did achieve some great results and placings with both Roxie and Milli (who was placed in the top 6 in the 4 events she was entered in!) and noe of this could have been achieved without the amazing support form my team behind the scenes and more importanlty my fabulous sponsors!
I am very proud of how our 2012 season went and with a winter full of coaching sessions and SJ and Dressage competitions for the horses we are all very excited about what 2013 may bring! I am also drilling mself hard to improve on the little things that I have struggled with since my accident in 2010. To help this I have been at the gym a lot recently and there is a noticeable improvement in my core strength and balance.....I know I will never be the rider I was before but hopefully with lots of work, dedication and determination I will be better and one day achieve my dream of riding at 4* level :) After All.....
"What Doesn't Kill You Only Makes You Stronger"
Roll on 2013.....................
Keep Calm & Canter On
I've had a slow day today after a long journey home yesterday and have just been doing jobs outside.....strange as it sounds I couldn't wait to get out and muck out, brush the horses etc etc! So what have we got planned, well lets start with tomorrow (21-10-12), I am out at Blue Barn Equestrian Centre with a few of my Clients who are competing in the team and individual SJ that is being held. Check back to see how everyone gets on!
Then as the week starts there's lots happening! I am away all day Monday at Golden Cross for a British Eventing Coaching Course, then on Tuesday the saddler is coming with some new saddles, two for Roxie and one for Milli.....spoilt horses, I know! Once I have these saddles fitted the excitement begins.....Roxie and Milli are coming back into work :) Milli has had 10 weeks off and is currently the size of a hippo and Roxie has had 5 weeks holiday (she's not a fan of long holidays as she loves her work so much!) They have both enjoyed their time in the field and look like fluffy, fat, new forest ponies at the moment, so once they've done their walking I think the clippers may have to come out.....I hate clipping! The rest of the week will be busy with many hours of teaching, riding my own and clients horses as well as lots of gym sessions! Going to the gym more is really helping my hip and it is feeling so much stronger after just a few weeks on the Body Blitz programme, good job I like a challenge and hopefully come the 2013 my hip and lower back will be so much stronger and not cause me quite so much pain! :)
Also, not sure if you've noticed the drop in temperature and the huge amounts of rain yet but we are heading into the winter, so I will be holding many training sessions at various locations across the south east. These sessions will be covering dressage, SJ and XC, so if you know a yard or centre that would be interested in holding a morning, afternoon or even a day of sessions then please do not hesitate to Contact Me for a chat and more info on rates etc.
COMING SOON is SGEventing's review of the 2012 event season (incl. videos!).....
Sarah Gadd Eventing
Keep Calm & Canter On