What a great month July was! I managed to get in lots of competing, and some very exciting results.

At the beginning of the month I headed to Upton House horse trials to do the Open Intermediate with Darius and the Novice with Del. This was Darius’ first run back after his mini holiday after Houghton three day and it felt great to be out doing what we love again!

We started with a pleasing test in the OI, jumped well in to the show jumping although unfortunately dropping two poles as he pulled off a shoe going into the triple and had both down on the way out, but absolutely stormed around the cross country, making a tricky track feel easy!

Del was also super to do a much improved test, a fantastic clear show jumping and a confident cross country, minus a run out where he didn’t quite understand the profile of the fence. I then managed to get in one more Novice run with Del at Dauntsey Horse Trials just as a quick tune up before going over to Camphire in Ireland. He was super all day, doing our best test to date and an easy double clear to finish 4th in good company! The confidence boost we needed before tackling our first international together.

Now onto Camphire, where we headed at the end of July! What a fantastic week we had. It started with driving to Pembroke Docks in Wales to get the 2.45am ferry across the sea into Ireland. Luckily for both boys there had a deep bed of BEDMAX shavings in the lorry to make sure they were happy and comfortable for the long journey. We arrived at Camphire at 10am the next day, and the horses both travelled very well and settled in quickly.

After a couple of days of taking them for hacks and lightly schooling them, Darius had his test for the CCIS-3* on the Thursday, where we put in a reasonable performance to score 33. I think he was almost too relaxed! Del then had his test in the CCIS-2* on the Friday. I was feeling a little apprehensive as that was to be his first time in a long arena, but he was so good, to score 32 and be in 11th place after the dressage!

Both boys then had their show jumping on the Saturday, both doing very classy clears (of which there weren’t many around a two big and twisty Irish tracks!) to move Darius into the top twenty and Del into 5th place!

Having walked both their cross country courses it was clear I would need to ride positively around two full up and technical tracks. Darius was in the morning, and gave me a great ride, making it all feel very easy! Annoyingly I got a 20 pens on him at the last water where I lost my reins on the jump in and then consequently missed my line to the skinny brush on the way out and he just cantered past it having not locked on. He went on to finish very strongly and no confidence was knocked – just one of those things!

I was just totally thrilled and completely over the moon with Del. I felt it was a big ask for him to go round that track as it was the biggest he would have ever seen and there were so many questions and combinations, I wasn’t sure how he would. I’d told myself that if we got through the finish line happy and sound, even with a couple of run outs, I would be happy. But he completely surprised me and just absolutely flew round the whole thing, answering every question I asked of him, and finished bang on the optimum time, to leave him in 5th place in his first international!

I couldn’t be prouder of the way he responded and how bold he felt. It makes all the hard work at home seem so worthwhile, and made what was already such a fun week even more special.

Hopefully he can move up a level soon, and Darius can continue to be as cool as he always is, as we look to a couple more shows abroad before the end of the season.