I hope you are all well and have had an enjoyable Christmas! As we head towards the end of 2017 although it doesn't feel like that long ago I was typing my "Review of 2016" it's that time of the year again and although it hasn't been a great year for me with the horses for s number of reasons there are still things that have been completed which I am very proud of!
Back to January 2017 where Roxie and Milli were going from strength to strength with their showjumping and picking up placings nearly every time out towards the end of 2016 and after a few quiet weeks over Christmas and the New Year we were back out jumping at Blue Barn. Roxie jumped a speedy double clear to finish 2nd in the Discovery and Milli jumped a confident double clear to finish 3rd in the Newcomers :)
Throughout January I also began training for an event which I knew wasn't going to be easy that was for sue but I had no idea how tough it would actually be! I was training to run the Brighton Marathon. I have always wanted to run a marathon since I was a young child and when I got confirmation that my entry had been successful the training began! Due to the amount of training required for such a long distance run the horses were kept ticking over for the first few months of the year as, due to working 9am to 5pm, my long run each week was at the weekend and this ruled out any competitions until after the marathon. As April approached my training reached it's peak and after being very strict with my eating whilst I was training I was looking forward to eating lots of carbs in the week leading up to the marathon, I loved pasta! Although I have to say after eating as many carbs as possible every day, some days starting with pasta for breakfast I was no longer that keen on pasta or potatoes!!
9th April 2017 - RACE DAY!!
Despite the blood, sweat and tears I had put myself through during my training I had made it and race day was upon us! I was incredibly excited and couldn't wait to start, I felt as ready as I needed to be.....little did I know what I was going to have to go through between the start and finish line! During my training I never got to the point of 'hitting the wall' so I was a bit worried as to when I would during the run as I knew I would as the longest I ran in training was just under 20 miles. I started well, a little too well as I found out what 'hitting the wall' feels like and I was only at the start of mile 9!!! I genuinely didn't think I would be able to complete the rest of it, turns out I had started way way too fast and set new PB's for both 5km, 10km and 15km.....which would explain why I felt like I did shortly after!
I took it easy for the next mile and at mile 10 I began to run again and didn't stop until I finished! For April it was a scorching hot day so i'm sure for all of the spectators the 20°C+ and sunshine was much appreciated but it made the run so much harder, plus there was hardly any breeze. I was expecting there to be a nice breeze as you ran along the sea front - nope and don't even get me started on the hills! I had heard the terrain was hilly for the first 10-12 miles but I didn't expect it to be as bad as it was.....if only running downhill was as easy as cycling downhill! Needless to say it was much tougher than I had ever expected it to be but I did enjoy every minute of the entire day, especially the massage in the KSSAAT finish tent at the end! Plus I only lost 1 toe nail during the run, not that there were many more for me to loose after losing so many during my training! I fund raised for the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance Trust (KSSAAT) and was very pleased to have raised just under £1,000 for them as without them and their fantastic life saving services the chances of my being here today would be very slim. Huge thank you to everyone of you who sponsored me!
The following Wednesday, after a few days of walking slightly lopsided and very slow I packed everything needed for a long weekend away.....just what I needed right?! Except I wasn't going alone, I was taking Roxie and Milli with me to jump at the Easter Extravaganza show at Weston Lawns. I thought it would be a nice weekend away having fun with the horses, the only thing I hadn't really thought of was how long it would actually take me to recover completely after running 26.2 miles and yes the 0.2 extra miles does make all the difference!
Easter Extravaganza, not that I was feeling too extravagant! A long drive up there, a quick wander and ride around the showground on Roxie and then Milli and I was ready for bed, especially with 5 days worth of jumping ahead of me I needed the sleep! Over the next few days Roxie picked up top 10 placings in quite a few of the classes that she jumped and despite the odd cheeky moment Milli picked up some placings in Discovery and 1.05m classes too so although I was far from feeling or riding at my best I was pleased with how they both jumped.
After giving myself a few quiet weeks to recover a bit more I was back out with Milli at the beginning of May where we picked up a placing out jumping at Felbridge but Milli wasn't feeling her normal self and with her being a home bred horse I know her and something wasn't 100%. After a few investigations and with nothing showing up I decided to take her to the vets. After an assessment and some scans it became clear that she had tweaked one of her front legs and had a summer of box rest ahead of her!
After a few months off at the end of 2016 with injury and then a few extra months off whilst I was training for the marathon it was time for Diaz to come back into work and she was feeling on great form. Once fit enough we went out to a pole work clinic which she thoroughly enjoyed and was feeling great.
Through May and June I took Roxie out to a few affiliated jumping competitions and we picked up top 3 placings every time out but without Milli being out competing too I decided to have a bit of quiet time as I was still struggling with the after effects, aches and pains from running the marathon.
Towards the end of the summer Diaz moved on to her new home and although I was incredibly sad to say goodbye to her, she couldn't have gone to a better home and I have already heard that she is back out competing and doing what she loves most!
September 2017, with Autumn fast approaching and after a few weeks focusing on our flatwork Roxie was back out competing and we were having a go at something a bit different.....showing at the Retraining of Racehorses South East Championship Show! I hadn't done any showing for 10+ years and none with Roxie so I was looking forward to doing something a bit different. We were competing in the National Amateur Showing Qualifier and although it was an amateur class, everybody seemed to know what they had to do and certainly looked the part. Roxie was wearing her sparkly velvet browband which she loved but that was about as far as it went with us looking the part!
There was 23 in the class, well I say 23 started the class and only 19 were still in the ring at the end of the class.....that's thoroughbreds for you I guess, some certainly found it very exciting all cantering around together! Despite not having any showing experience Roxie certainly knew who the judge was and who she needed to twinkle her toes in front off. We finished in 4th place which I was absolutely chuffed with, not going to lie I was a little frustrated when I found out that it was the first 3 that qualified for the National Championships but considering it was our first attempt I was still pleased and will certainly be having a go at a few more next year!
As well as the showing class at the RoR South East Championship Show we also did an Elementary dressage test and we scored 60+% which was quite good for Roxie considering that the dressage arena was in the same arena as the showjumps!
To finish off the competition season of 2017 Roxie and I went to Blue Barn for an affiliated dressage competition and despite only doing one dressage test in the last year or so Roxie behaved very well and did two lovely elementary tests, scoring 60+% in both to finish 2nd in Elementary 42 and then we won Elementary 59.
At the beginning of October Milli was back at the vets and the news was very good, all had healed and she was now to begin to slowly come back into work. With the positive news the following day we had our first walk around the school and she behaved surprisingly well! Her walk work to increase slowly and then before we knew it she was trotting and cantering and she was feeling great, back to her normal cheeky! At the end of October it was my brothers wedding so the girls were just kept ticking over whilst we had a few family outings as so many people came to stay and celebrate the special day with us.
With Milli's fitness now back at almost competition level it was time for her to go out for a party. Instead of going to a competition we went to a local polework clinic which she found great fun and I was incredibly pleased with how well she behaved and with how well she went! A few weeks later I took Roxie to a pole work clinic which was very entertaining as polework has never been something that Roxie likes doing, I don't think she sees the point of it, why step over them when you can jump!? We did find that she trotted over them beautifully with me leading her and running next to her!
After the polework clinics the following weekend I was up in our school and set up all of my own poles to do similar exercises to what we did at Mary's polework clinics, well with Milli anyway, there wasn't much point in doing it with Roxie! As I warmed Milli up she didn't feel 100% again, this time behind, my heart sank! Quick examination and nothing obvious so a few quiet days to see what showed up - nothing! I spoke with my vet and he suggested some quiet hacks out and she would be fine one minute and then not quite right the next. After discussions with my farrier as well we decided to put her back shoes back on as she has been barefoot behind for quite a while now but that was the only thing that I could pin point it down too.
Once we had put the shoes on she felt great, for a few days anyway and then the occasionally off step. A few days later one of her hind legs began to swell up and it was very obviously an infection of some sort. We were at the vets the following day for Roxie and Milli to have their yearly vaccinations so after more discussions with the vet and a quick assessment of Milli leg and foot it turns out that she had a slight infection that was draining out of the white line in her foot and not escalating to anything serious, well until we out the shoes on and stopped it being able to drain out so it was now looking for another way out! We were sent away with a weeks worth of super duper antibiotics which worked incredibly quickly. Within a few days the infection had burnt out of her heel and after a few days of poulticing i'm pleased to say that she is back to normal and after a few weeks building up her fitness again we are now back trotting and cantering again.
Things have been a little stop star over the last few weeks leading up to Christmas as it's been cold and the school has been frozen both before and after work and with it not being light enough to hack out before or after work I have only been able to ride at weekends which is a little frustrating! Over the last 10 days Millis has been in 'boot camp' a bit doing plenty of work and she is feeling on top form with just the odd cheeky moment when ever she feels like it is needed to brighten the schooling session or hack up!
As you can probably guess, 2017 hasn't been a great year for me and the horses, we have achieved some of our aims but things seem to have been parred by injuries for both me and the horses although mine were or are self inflicted from running the marathon!
I have quite a few things planned and competitions to aim for next year but I'll do a seperate blog on these in the New Year! I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for following us throughout the year, a big thank you to my friends and family for all their help and support and not forgetting our fabulous sponsors who have kept the horses in tip top condition with such great feed and supplements throughout the year as well as the fantastic bedding they have had in their stables and of course the fantastic physio making sure they are feeling at their very best!
I hope you all have a very Happy New Year!!
You'll find regular updates on this page with all the very latest news on everything that we have been up too!