The first competition of the season was the Forest of Dean – March Hares ride on the 2nd March. This ride is always the first ride of my season as it fits in with my horses fitness regime before they start their canter work. Barik completed the 50km class at a gentle pace.
Wentwood in Spring ride was run on 16th March. Another forest ride with plenty of hills. I rode with Alex Tennant and her horse Earlsdon, who Is Barik’s cousin on his dam line. A nice 40km to get the boys used to training together in case further down the line they might be team mates. Their paces are very evenly matched so it was great to ride along together and have a catch up.
At Tresham, 6th April, I decided to help and do my bit for the sport. I spent the day vet writing in the wind and the rain. Needless to say we all wore plenty of layers to keep the chill out and drank lots of tea, coffee and hot chocolate.
A last minute decision saw me competing in the FEI 160km *** at Haywood Oaks on Eskar, owned by Kirsty Wiscombe. I had ridden Eskar at Seacliffe, Scotland in the FEI 120km** the previous year so I was thrilled to be given the chance to compete him again. I had ridden Barik in 2013 in the 120km class so new the course I would be taking in the 160km. However, from the previous year the tracks had deteriorated due to the amount of rainfall we had had through the winter. Eskar did very well and got stronger with each loop. We completed in 5th place out of 11 starters at a speed of 14.9kph and achieving the qualification for this year’s World Equestrian Games.
The following weekend, after Haywood Oaks, there was the Cranwich Ride. Barik and I were entered in the 101km CER. I rode the first two loops with Katie Bedwin but her horse Layla pulsed quicker in the 2nd vetgate and managed to keep the few minutes between so we rode the last loop on our own coming in 3rd place at a speed of 18kph.
As part of the selection criteria Barik needed to do a 120km within the Championship year so I had decided to enter the Royal Windsor FEI 120km** on May 16th. This would be a big competition with a lot going on around him so would give him some great experience. The course followed tracks around the park, with some road work although the verges were mostly mown so you could canter along the sides and also incorporated a lap of Ascot racecourse. The lap of Ascot racecourse was a definite highlight of the ride and with Barik’s racing history he was happy to fly along. The course rode fast with the top ten riders completing well over 20kph. Barik completed the ride in 22nd place overall and we were 8th British combination to finish at a speed of 18.37kph out of 45 starters.
On 25th May I was given the chance to ride Bright Dawn owned by Sue Loveridge in 66km class. This would be the longest distance Dawn would complete. The route was split into two loops of 33km with one vetgate in the middle. Dawn was extremely keen and was very strong the first loop, pulling the entire way. She vetted well with a pulse of 48 at the vet gate. She was still very keen on the second loop but at least we had better breaks this loop. The course rode very well with only a few areas where the ruts from the vehicles were extremely bad and required walking through. Dawn achieved another grade 1 with a final pulse of 39 at a speed of 14.1kph.
So far this has been a good season. The next ride I will be attending is Cirencester Park which is run over 6th,7th 8th June. Barik and I have been invited to attend the selection ride for the British Team for the World Equestrian Games. We will each be required to ride a 60km on the Friday and have other assessments carried out on our horses, crew and us as riders. So keep your fingers crossed! I will then be crewing Alex Tennant on the Saturday and finally riding Dawn on the Sunday in a 64km. Its going to be a busy weekend!