WOW, What a week, we finished 3rd in the Bishop Burton British CCI*** u25 Championships at the Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials with CHARLES RR!
It was our first trip to Bramham Park, and only our second CCI*** after completing Blenheim Palace International last year. Charlie who’s only 10 years old was simply brilliant from start to finish, jumping round some seriously tough tracks.
On Wednesday we started with trot up in front of the beautiful house. I felt all our prep for the competition had gone smoothly and Charlie was looking fantastic ahead of the week.
Our dressage wasn’t until late afternoon on the Friday so we did lots of hacking round the woodland and I gave him a small jump on Thursday. I also took him to arena familiarisation Thursday afternoon to allow him to get used to the atmosphere in the main arena before our test. Charlie was so relaxed he spent most of the 30 minutes I rode him grazing! I think it is fair to say he thinks dressage is pretty pointless and has had a history of being ‘challenging’ in this phase, however we have had lots of help over the winter with Mark Todd and I feel we are starting to make huge improvements. I was thrilled with Charlie’s test, he stayed relaxed throughout and both our changes came off. There were mistakes but overall his way of going and attitude towards posh trotting is getting so much better!!
Although it is always nice to start with a good test, having walked Ian Stark’s cross country course it wasn’t going to be a dressage competition. The fences were beautifully built and dressed, and the ground was PERFECT. Charlie skipped round the seriously tough track clear. An unplanned long route after jumping HUGE into the first water meant we picked up 8 time round the 10min 23secs course. As this was the first time I had planned to run fast round this length of course with him I wasn’t sure what to expect, however he didn’t tire at all and galloped just as strongly home over the last minute as he did through the first minute! After the trouble the course had caused, and being one of the fastest rounds, we moved up into 6th overnight!
Charlie flew through the second horse inspection early on Sunday morning, and we showjumped at 11.15am. He was fresh and loose warming in, and went on to jump a fantastic round. Unfortunately I made a mistake at fence 3 to cause an annoying pole to fall but we finished better than ever and inside the time. The course was very big and technical in an extremely atmospheric arena with a huge crowd all focused on us, so I was thrilled how easy he made it feel.
We couldn’t believe it when we moved up to finish 3rd!! Not only do we have our 4* qualification, but we are also BADMINTON QUALIFIED!! Charlie loved all the attention on his laps of honour. He looks fantastic today and will have a well-deserved mini-break ahead of the autumn season.
I have so many people to thank for the team effort that goes into these results. Firstly my amazing Mum who is there every step of the way, and provides Charlie with endless polos! Also Barbara Whale for all her help and support… She can usually be found running round the XC course making sure she doesn’t miss a fence! Rhian Jones, my mentor and top top trainer, who has been there from the start with Charlie. Without her help and advice he wouldn’t be where he is now. A massive thank you goes to Laura, my super groom, who held the fort at home all week looking after the other horses. We had friends staying with 6 horses for WestWilts Friday and Saturday night just to add to the chaos, and we returned home to a beautiful tidy yard and happy ponies. More big thank you’s to Liz Brown (vet), Kerry Clampton (Physio), Lucy Rodwell (Chiro), Lorna Edgar (Nutritionalist, Baileys Horse Feeds), and Adrian Parkes (Farrier) who all make sure Charlie is in the best condition possible. Also Sue Carson and her team for providing and fitting beautiful saddles, FMBs Therapy Systems and Gina at Equiclass for making sure I look super smart in the best boots around. Thank you to everyone who supports and messages me, it really does mean a great deal. Finally, a special mention to Tim Wilkinson (Eventing Images), who comes to virtually every event and takes very very special photos…lots of amazing memories documented.
But the biggest thank you of all has to go to my very special, genuine, talented horse ‘King Charlie’. Hopefully this is the start of very exciting things to come!