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  • Samantha Lissington

Elephants and unicorns

Well - this has been a particularly hard blog to write!

We had a great first time at Dauntsey horse trial with Cabbage and a couple of the Buttermere horses. We took 3 and came home with 3 ribbons which wasn’t half bad! Jasmine has also headed to South of England and did her first novice. She was clear cross country and oh-my-golly-gosh what a horse she is going to be!

Sooty felt on cracking form before we headed off to Boekelo, but unfortunately my week was full of hard learnings about the differences between NZ and the UK, and it was a real blow to have to pull out of the competition after a competitive dressage test on the first day. We were sad for the team to have to carry our substitution penalty, not to have got the Olympic qualification we need, but also equally sad about the missed opportunity to prove ourselves under pressure over here. Sooty is happy and we will look at all our options over the coming week to decide what his Plan B looks like now.

Boekelo itself was ridiculously cool – the infrastructure that goes into the event is incredible. And I am being 100% serious when I say that there is a bar at nearly every single cross country fence! And the bikes – SO MANY BICYCLES! Sooty and I got to catch up with some old friends which a great pick-me-up – I think he remembered Maren which was pretty cute. It was great to be a part of Team NZ and we very much appreciated the support of everyone who came along to help! And hey, at least I had a really cool Latham & Taylor hat for trot up!

In other unfortunate news - Ricky needs a wind operation. The left side of her throat region (larynx) has collapsed which means she is struggling to breath properly. We did an overground scope where they video the throat while she is galloping to best understand the problem and therefore advise the best solution. The process looks awful but she coped so incredibly well (see pic) – bless her! The particular surgery that they want to do is a relatively new one which will actually regenerate the nerves to give her full throat function (rather than the standard tie-back option which can cause problems due to the airway always being open). The downside is that this option has a recovery time of 5-6 months. While the surgery and missed time is a disappointment, the real blow is our lost ability to get an owner on board for her - because who would want to invest in a horse that is about to spend 6 months off?

A few events have been abandoned due to ground conditions recently, so it looks like we are off to our last two for the eventing season next week – Aston Le Walls and Bicton. Going back to Aston will be the first time I am going to an event that I have actually been to before – HOORAY!

Back at the yard we are starting to settle and get into the swing of things, and I am still pinching myself every day that I can ride on such a beautiful property!

Someone recently asked me what the hardest thing has been about being over here, and as I was answering them I realised that it was as follows;

In your home town/country a lot of what you do can be done on autopilot, how the paddocks work, where the tack goes, what to buy at the supermarket, how to get to events, where the hoof pick lives, how long it takes to xc school, where is the closest petrol station? Why are there no petrol stations on main roads? When to do a rug change, when should the horses go out, when should they come in? Is it too wet? Should I wear jacket? Wait that’s too warm… It isn’t the big things that wear you down over here, it is the exhausting sense that every little detail has to be a conscious effort rather than just knowing and relying on instinct.

Thankfully all of these things are just starting to become habit again (yay!), which makes the bigger issues at least a little easier to deal with.

What is the second hardest thing? Those elusive dollar bills. Yes, we are a little bit on Struggle Street funding-wise. Actually more than a little bit, you could say we’ve progressed beyond Struggle Street and we are now somewhere along Dire Straight haha!

We are on the hunt for new schoolers, students and sales horses – so get in touch with suggestions ;)

And if you happen to know a fairy godmother (or godfather) who might like a bit more adventure in their life - we would very much welcome some gold dust and new partners in crime for our very talented unicorns.

I love sharing the exciting times in our journey, but it turns out it isn’t so easy when you have some elephants in the room weighing you down! This was my 5th attempt at writing this, and it might take a little bit more bravery than usual to hit the post button - but here goes!

And besides, every good story wouldn't be the same without obstacles to overcome would it?

Until next time, Sam


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