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  • Samantha Lissington

Gatcombe and Smiths Lawn

Eeek the updates are getting ahead of me, everything is happening so fast over here – I’m doing my best to keep up!

As I was writing this I was sitting in the lorry at Hartpury, we did the arena familiarisation in the morning at 7am, but our test wasn't until 2.24pm I had time to do some pre-rides, walk cross country and get stuck in to some admin!

We’ve done two events since the last update – Gatcombe and Smiths Lawn.

I was lucky enough to get a catch ride (via Tim) for Gatcombe on Kilmarnock Lad (AKA Jay) owned by Caroline Gordon, a little thoroughbred who actually looks very similar to either Roddy or Toby!

He was entered in the retired racehorse class, which is run as an Intermediate/Novice – Intermediate level dressage and showjumping, with novice level cross country. After taking on the ride I realised I actually haven’t done many catch rides at all – if any? So I realised I was in unfamiliar territory on a few accounts!

I rode him twice before competing him, and we were really pleased with how he went at the event all things considered – good quality of work for him in the dressage, just a few buttons wired differently hence some miscommunications! He showjumped really well with just one down, and cross country I don’t think either of us really felt like we knew each other but he kept jumping and was a lot of fun! He made the top 10 which meant he had to come back on the final day and do ANOTHER jumping round – he pulled out a cracker and jumped one of only 2/3 clear rounds which was a great way to finish the event. All up he finished in 7th place and earnt me my first 100 quid in UK prizemoney!

I had quite a lot of time to waste at the event (with jumping at 10am and cross country at 4pm on Saturday) and I even managed to make a few friends (#winning!) We parked next to Bert on the first day, and he proceeded to give me the low down on all things UK Eventing, he also delightfully thanked every volunteer that he came across which I thought was a pretty cool habit to create.

I also spent a bunch of time milling around the trade stands (which are all so good over here!). I’ve been drooling over the tack trolleys that are made by a company called Stable & Barn, and while the trolley on my Christmas wish list, Charlotte kindly gave us a full set of brushes and grooming kit which now lives in the lorry (and even matches the lorry!) Thanks Charlotte!

Also so cool to be there on the Sunday when Jonelle took out the British Open Championship – Go Kiwis! Fun catching up in the lorry park after the events of the day.

On Monday we had Jess start with us – YAYAY! Jess spent 8 months with us in NZ before coming over here to work for Laura Collett for the past year. I am so happy to have a partner in crime and someone around that already knows the horses well. It really is a huge weight off my shoulders.

Tuesday we headed off to Smiths Lawn with the babies. The event is held in Windsor Park, so it was quite cool to drive through the park and think of the Queen riding her horses around paths we run cross country on!

One of the challenges we are still overcoming is the fact that all the horses are still quite attached to eachother, back in NZ we had a big team of horses – so even if you took one away they always had the company of another horse. Here they have to get used to being one of two, and being left alone on the ‘lorry’ while we head off to ride the other. Jasmine was relatively unsettled for the whole day, which was not unexpected, although I don’t think that my antics in the warmup earnt me many new friends!

Both the horses were rather confused about the little planks on the ground that they call a dressage arena over here, but neither embarrassed themselves and both got good miles in the bank. Jasmine had an unlucky 2 down over a very twisty showjumping course that really didn’t suit young horses at all, but Ricky tried extra hard and managed to leave them all up. Both jumped clear cross country with a few time faults – who knew the time was hard to get at BE100 level! The cross country course itself was a great experience – it is bigger than our training level back home but all nice fences that you can ride forward to so probably a better experience for them.

It was great to see that these young horses look like they are going to be competitive over here, I think it would be hard to find replacements for them if I have to sell them - Check out the pictures!

After that we headed home and took Rui and Sooty to the gallops – with about 18 hours of daylight at the moment it is easy to fit a heap in if you have the energy ;)

Next up we have Hartpury with Rui (which would have finished by the time I write this, but that will have to go in another update!), dressage lessons with Isobel on Monday, another BE100 for the babies on Tuesday at West Wilts, and then Sommerford with Sooty on the weekend.

Ginny’s team has grown too quickly of late, so we are on the lookout for another yard to move to this season – I’m busy doing my research and trying to work it all out, so there is lots on the go for us at the moment! I’m starting to need to take a good look at the financial situation, and most importantly to scheme up a way to keep the young horses.

We've had such lovely messages from everyone – it really has been a great help in the past month, and these little updates are a great way for me to debrief and highlight the positives of it all


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