Where to even start! I fear, like a house job left too long, this is now a mammoth task!
I will attempt to capture some of the highlights of the past couple of months of our competition season since Milstreet;
Initially most of the ponios had short break mid year - it was really nice to give both them and us a bit of downtime to catch our breath! Sooty was the only one in high-performance mode as we told him we were off to Aachen!
Aachen - Germany
WOW what an incredible experience the whole week was filled with pinch-me moments - here are a few to give you an idea!
First time being FLOWN to an event, feeling like absolute royalty!
Being picked up at the airport by BMW drivers (who drive ridiculously fast).
Walking into the gates of Aachen 10 years later after attending to watch it back in 2013 (see pic below).
Being a part of the tight kiwi crew - support team, coaches, riders and grooms!
Walking into the riders lounge where there is a musician on a podium playing live jazz music under a chandelier - actually.
Weaving your way through throngs of exceptionally well-dressed people then on to the quieter stable area that feels like home after a week away.
Cantering into that HUGE main arena for show jumping - goosebumps!
Walking cross country and appreciating there was a lot to do out there - inhale.
Losing a shoe early on and trying to combine the concepts of "there's-a-lot-to-do-out-here" and "I-need-to-stay-upright-on-three-wheels-and-slippery-ground" - hold breath.
Jumping the last and heading through those finish flags in the main arena - exhale.
Amazing experience to tick off - I can't wait to go again! There really isn't another event that compares.
Left: Course walking Aachen in 2013 when we were there as spectators!
Aston - England
The week after Aachen - Can you believe it? The white pony does it again - taking out the win in the CCI3*S class at Aston Le Walls out of a massive field of over 100 starters. Pretty bloody impressive from a 7yr! Now fully qualified and preparing for Le Lion with earnest.
A few weeks after this Cleo and Rafa returned to run in their very first Novice - both double and Rafa with a 3rd place - clear can't ask for more than that!
Mallow - Ireland
Fran, Nicky, Sooty and I headed off for a very relaxing week away in Ireland at the end of July. We were there with a very specific job to do - ticking off our olympic qualifier for next year! We achieved this in good form.
I was thrilled that Sooty scored a 27.2 in the dressage, and posted a quick round in the cross country just adding 3.2 time faults. Sadly a rail on the final day cost us second place - but as they say it is easy in hindsight and all good learnings to take away for next time.
Nicky and Dan headed off in Mid August - so special to have them come and stay with us and I was so sad to see them go again! The tough part of our big life adventure for sure.
Arville - Belgium
We had a pretty cool nostalgic moment as the OG three musketeers (Ginny, Muzi and I) sat in the pub preparing for our trip to Belgium that night, reminiscing on the years gone by spent at young rider level together. How special is it to be on the other side of the world doing what we love - new horses, new lives but the same friendship and passion that joined us all those years ago. Credit to our journeyman horses who gave us all so much at such an important time in our careers! We were pretty useless at getting a picture all together, however here's one of the good ol days!
Above: Way back when - At a squad training with Muzi & Jerry, Bekham & I and Ginny with Pee Cee!
Charlie was treated like royalty by Fran - our first show taking just him and his debut for Team New Zealand - I think he soaked up the attention! A super dressage test with two clean changes again! He really is so exciting in the quality of his work on the flat, I 100% believe we have some PB tests to come together in the low 20s at this level.
On to showjumping with one down. Then cross country which I was thrilled with - I had yet to actually run him fast, so to come home with 3.2 time was really rewarding, even with a few steering issues to sort out before Blenheim! He finished 12th individually from 115 starters - not bad Charlie not bad at all! Again a really fun team environment to be a part of and wonderful to have Annabelle and Merilese make the trip out to support us!
It's a pretty jam packed final couple of months for us this season! A super exciting lineup of events to finish the year, starting with taking our three 5 year olds horses to the Burghley Young Event Horse Final tomorrow (today by the time this posts). A big family outing with all the girls joining for what should be a fun day! We're all looking forward to walking the course and I always really enjoy these classes with the babies.
After that we have our Cornbury Campaign sponsored by Sussex Asset Finance!
We are really excited to welcome Susssex Asset Finance as a sponsor this year - having met Chris and the team at Badminton last year I have leant on them for advice over the past 18 months, if you're in need of finance advice from a down to earth, nimble and approachable organisation then give them a call.
We have SIX horses taking part over the four days at Cornbury, which proves to be a logistical nightmare when the lorry takes x6 and no room for freezer, hay, feed, etc! Thankfully Fran's lorry Reggie is coming to the rescue (which is actually for sale if anyone wants a cheap run around x4 box!) and big thanks to Charlotte who is playing shuttle for a couple of the horses during the week!
We will have;
Cleo and Rafa in the British 5yr Championship
Cookie in the British 6yr Championship
Quantas in the British 7yr Championship
Sooty with a quiet run in the OI
Olive (new ride for me) in the CCI2*S
Plus Kaitlyn and Zazu in the CCI2*S!
The following week we have Charlie's final run of the season which will be at Blenheim (14-17th Sept). I am really looking forward to going back to such a wonderful show, but no doubt there will be a few tugs on the heart strings as we remember our dear Ricky. She is often in our thoughts and has her own fig tree sitting outside the front of the barn so that she can keep a watchful eye on us all.
We have a few quieter weeks after that before we build up to the big finale of the season - our French Foray sponsored by Merlin Vet UK - a two week trip comprising the World Young Horse Championships in Le Lion (18-22nd Oct) with Cookie and Quantas, and finishing with Sooty's first CCI5*L run at Pau (18-22nd Oct).
It has been a spectacularly successful year so far and I am feeling a certain amount of pressure to finish the year on-trend! I feel very privileged to be sitting on such lovely horses, with the best team, and an exciting lineup of events to tackle in the next couple of months - bring it on.
I've also got itchy feet to find a new horse or two again, and so the hunt begins!