As July comes to an end I have been reflecting on the crazy few weeks Flo and I have had this month! It all started with Hartpury premier league in the first week in July where Flo and I had our first attempt at the young rider test. This is for riders aged 21 and under and is Prix St George level. I will have to move out of juniors (under 18) and up to young riders at the end of this season as I reach the end of my 18th year.
We got a very respectable score and it gave us a good push to continue training at this level. This was also the week that I was told that we had been selected to represent Great Britain individually as a junior at Deauville CDI in France in the third week of July!
Preparations began to go to France, I was overjoyed to be selected so soon after coming back from Flo’s operation and it was so nice to be able to go abroad as a junior before moving up to young riders. We went to a local show the week before leaving for a music freestyle run through and I am so glad we did as it did not go particularly well!
I was unhappy with the way I rode as my lines were messy and we were very rusty having not done the freestyle since October so in the end I was so glad we got to run through it to show me where I needed to tighten up. Shows that don’t go so well are definitely the ones that help me the most as they make me more determined to get it right next time.
In the third week of July we set off for France; Flo travelled so well on the BEDMAX shavings we put down for her in the lorry making her really comfortable and happy. We did an overnight stop at Dover and then boarded an early train on the Eurotunnel on the Wednesday to arrive at the venue in Deauville around midday. The venue was absolutely beautiful and everyone was so friendly and welcoming. I rode Flo in the main arenas that evening once she had settled into her stable and the atmosphere was something I had never experienced before and I just could not wait to compete.
We flew through the vet check on Thursday morning with Flo being very well behaved and we then waited until Friday afternoon until we could compete. What came next I still have not completely processed as it truly was a dream. Flo and I managed to win all three tests each day! We won the junior team test with 69%, the individual test with 70% (not to mention in torrential rain!) and the freestyle with 72%!! All three scores were a personal best for us ever let alone at an international competition!
Having the national anthem played for us each day was a feeling I will never ever forget and it has made all the stress and worry this year worth it. I feel so lucky to have the most amazing team around me and to be on this journey with a horse that I have literally grown up with.
Once we got back to reality at the end of the week after returning home with a smooth journey back, it was a quick turnaround as we had two days to wash everything and repack for Hickstead international! Doing two international competitions back to back (especially with one being abroad) was crazy but an experience I feel very humbled to have been given the opportunity to have.
It was lovely to compete in our first home soil international as we had a great catch up with our team mates also representing Great Britain and whilst Flo and I were understandably running on a lower tank than we would have liked due to the previous week, we still managed to consistently get three 68% scores placing us in the top eight each day.
We have now returned home and whilst being at international competitions for two weeks in a row makes me feel so lucky to be in the position I am and to have had these opportunities, I must say it feels very good to be back in my own bed!
Flo is now having a well-deserved break whilst I fly to Holland to spend some time with my family and then it’s back to training for both Flo and my young horse Lilo with some exciting times ahead!