Tuesday 12 April 2016

2016 season is underway...kind of!

March 2016 report

The event season is finally underway...kind of! It took two attempts to get to our first eventIsleham didn’t happen due to me being ill and Tweseldown was cancelled because of the ground, but we finally got there.  

In addition we welcome new super groom Sophie Offord who joins Sian Barden our current  Head Super Groom. Sophie is covering the times that Sian doesn't work, they make the most amazing team and I feel very luck indeed to have such fantastic support. The one thing they have in common is their absolute love and dedication to the horses. To have two people that love my horses as much as I do is wonderful.

Aldon became our first event. I took Boo and Hector to do the Novice.  
Now if you have ever read my blogs before you will know that we always have some sort of disaster on our journey or it never runs as smoothly as we would like. This should have been the most straight forward of journeys, but we had a slight detour on the way there and ended up going through a housing estate, our three and a half hour journey resulted in four and a half hour journey. 
It was a quick turn around, I had no time to walk the cross country so I jumped straight on Hector to do my dressage test… he did a sweet test with a few fresh moments 

had time for a quick croissant and then it was Boo’s turn, I stayed very quiet trying not to wake the diva up inside and end up getting a 30’s test, she stayed sweet with a couple mistakes. I was so pleased she didn’t explode and I was just having a nice walk back the lorry on a long rein, thinking about how good she had been when all of a sudden she exploded she did a buck, a rear and leap all at the same time! This left me holding onto a few plaits for dear life to keep me on board!  

So by then the horses had realized they were at an actual horse trials, that they weren’t just going to go round in circles all day, it had suddenly become very exciting.  Show jumping both horses was interesting; they were both a complete handful! I nearly bit the dust again when I was in the warm up on Hector but this time I had a neck strap on and I managed to regain my seat! The actual show jumping rounds were a little unruly but I stayed on. 

The cross country went a lot better they both did a lovely clear round I kept them steady to avoid any mistakes.  

I was very happy with them for their first event it even though they were a little excited!  

My next event was Munstead, this time it was Rosie and Arabella’s turn. We brought along new groom Sophie for her first experience of eventing and a Team Upton day out! Just the one little thing on the journey with the haynet cupboard bursting open,  Tina Cook was right behind, flashing Mum, calling her on the phone and trying to get her attention, Mum kept driving oblivious to stray hay nets and phone calls! Finally Tina's groom Rachel called me,  Sian answered (we were travelling separately, she then managed to get hold of Sophie who was in the passenger seat of the lorry and she told Mum)!! Haynes rescued and cupboard closed, they were underway again!

Rosie did an obedient dressage test, Arabella not so much! She tried to gallop back to the lorry park afterwards too! We were nearly on for two double clears but Rosie just tipped the last pole and then they went on to do two lovely clear cross country rounds. Weather was awful but the girls were great and felt so good. 
Getting out of Munstead was a different matter, it took Mum half an hour as it was absolutely gridlocked with traffic trying to come in and traffic trying to get out and no marshals. We have a 36ft, 18 tonne lorry, that takes some manovering on a narrow path! 

Wish me luck!  
It’s all starting again!! 

Many thanks as always to my wonderful sponsors who are so supportive and a huge part of Team Upton: MDR Photo, The Pure Feed Company, Equ streamZ, Timothy Foxx Clothing, LMEQ and Sue Chinn Osteopathy

Monday 2 November 2015

Good finishes, holiday, heartbreak and nurturing my OCD tendencies

As I am writing this I am looking at my horses from my kitchen window that are turned out and on holiday in a 20 acre field with a few cows for company.

The last event of the season for me was LMEQ. This was Littleton Manor’s first ever event and I was extremely excited because they are great supporters of mine. I took Rosie to do the BE100 for last run so she ended with confidence.
Matt and Kate Tarrant had done the most wonderful job with the event making it super organised and everyone from the car park stewards to the jumping stewards were so friendly. It was overall a very sociable weekend and a wonderful way to end the season. To top it off Rosie put in a great performance and got a top 10 placing. I also got to meet up with some other wonderful sponsors MDR and Equi-Streamz it is always great fun to see them!!!

So as the season comes to a close it’s a time when all event riders look back and reflect on how well their horses have gone, what went well, what could have been better, what they are going to change, most horses get turned out on a holiday.

My season didn't go quite how I planned it. Danny went lame tweaking a suspensory mid season, which curtailed out advanced and 3* plans and Arabella was off form throughout (although we now know the reason) but three of my horses really exceeded my expectations, these where Rosie, Boo and Hector. They progressed in leaps and bounds this season.

As the horses got turned out for their holiday, I went on a short 5 day break to Turkey with one of my best girlfriends we were hoping for lots of sun and to come back with a cracking tan, instead it rained for 4 days straight and only sunny for the last day we were there, so we made the most of that day and probably didn't put enough sun cream and we came home looking a bit like lobsters.

When I arrived home I had two schooling liveries in ready for me to get cracking with. So no time to recover from the holiday and it was time to get back to work! I don’t do sitting around…

The saddest news is that Arabella has been in and out of hospital for the past month with an abscess going through her abdomen, as I type this the prognosis is better than it has been over the last month and we are all keeping fingers crossed. Poor Arabella is expected to have a few more spells in hospital yet before she is though this. She is one amazing resilient horse who just wants to please. When I think of what she has been going through and pain she must have been in, it is heartbreaking.

Looking forward my next plan of action is to have a re group with Tina and talk about the season and start planning for next season. I will look at each aim for each horse then work out when I need to bring them back into work and start getting them fit.

From now to that point of bringing them back in I will be riding for other people schooling their horses for them, nurturing my OCD tendencies by lots of tidying and organising, stables will get cleaned and disinfected, the tackroon cleaned and organised, the lorry gets a complete clean out and our lives just get a little more on an even keel again. And not to mention and hunting and shooting season has started….

I would like to thank all my sponsors and owners, without these guys it really would not be possible. They give me an unbelievable supportive network around me and they all make Team Upton the best team!

Thursday 29 October 2015

Getting inspired at The European Championships at Blair

As I am writing this whilst I'm in the middle of getting ready for Osberton, we are leaving early in the morning with Boo and Arabella for their first CCI 1*.September has been a busy month…It started with Goring where the horses had a nice confident run in the Intermediate Novice, this was a nice easy run for Hector after Hartpury and it was a good stepping stone for Boo and Arabella before they moved up.
My next run was at Pontispool but things didn’t go as well as I had quite hoped. Arabella was in the intermediate but it was a very grown up XC track and she was a bit shocked and lost a bit of her confidence going round. She had a few stops but that’s what is like when you bring a young one on, you constantly hit hurdles in their learning process.
Rosie did her first Novice and she was brilliant. It was also quite a big challenging XC course and she just had 2 hesitations at a step into water, but I was over the moon at how well she coped.
Next stop was The South of England where Rosie went in her second novice and she was fabulous completing an absolutely cracking XC round. Then I took Boo and Hector for the intermediate. Hector was in absolute top form and came 8th. He is the coolest horse and I can’t wait to take him 2* next year. It was Boo’s first intermediate and she was brilliant apart from the silly jockey on top who managed to get us eliminated through error of the course but we still completed and I was so happy at how easy she found it.
We also went to Scotland to watch the senior Europeans at Blair Castle. We had a brilliant 5 days, even if it was freezing cold and pouring down with rain on XC day. It was great to watch all the GB riders but Michael Jung is one insane human being. 
Now off I go back to packing for Osberton, oh and there goes mum with an armful of wine...

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Huge apologies but I'm back...

First of all I just want to apologise for the lack of blog posts since Houghton Hall. Back in February I was asked to write for an on line horse magazine, Everything Horse UK. Understandably they did want me to use the same copy as my personal blog which of course I honoured, but unfortunately I did not have not had the time to do both. However they have very kindly said that they are happy for me to do both, so here is a catch up on all the articles I have done. From now on, you will see me blogging on here at least once a month. Happy reading!






Harriet Upton Blog: Eventing has its ups and downs!

Eventing has its ups and downs! Crickey what a busy month I have had.

I went to Upton House with Hector, Boo, Arabella to do the Novice and also took Rosie to do the Pre Novice, they were amazing. Boo, Arabella and Hector all did double clears and ALL got a top 10 placing, I couldn’t have been happier with the way they went, they have all got so confident, its so rewarding to feel them coming on.

Rosie is coming on really well but she is just having confidence issues in the cross country, she is amazingly careful and sometimes she over jumps the XC fences and slightly scares herself but this is all in the learning, she will start to understand that she doesn’t need to jump as big.
So many of you may know that I tried my first advanced on Danny at Aston Le walls… I was so excited to go up another level, he did a 37 dressage test which I was so happy with because it was the first time I had ridden a dressage test at this level, it had flying changes and everything! We then went onto the SJ phase and I have to say it was massive, but we rose to the challenge and he jumped a cracking round, next up the XC phase and I was feeling a little nervous! I thought come on Harriet you can do this, anyway we started out and it was going really well until… we got to this combination of two skinny brushes with very big ground lines almost like a concrete water tray with rocks and mini water fountains, anwayyyy we came round the corner and went to jump the first one, he spooked and jumped it enormously, I wasn’t expecting it, I sat back and slipped my reins, it was a long four strides to the next brush, we just couldn’t meet it. I felt I could have helped him more by putting my leg on a bit more but I think I was feeling the nerves. I was so annoyed with myself. So I have booked into Wellington to give it another go and this time I am going to nail it.

Boo was placed 4th at Borde Hill in a very wet Novice class, there were 4 double clears in total, Boo being one of them but the hunting last season really paid off. She was so sure footed and actually seem to enjoy the mud and the rain!

The highlight of my year so far with the horses is when I took Hector to his first intermediate at Aston Le walls he was amazing, he gave me the most amazing ride cross country, I was just so proud of him, he had such a hard life before his owner Sarah brought him from Ireland, he is a sensitive soul and since being at Upper Barn has gone from strength to strength and really started to put his trust in me. The reward when I went through the finish of the cross country was just the most amazing feeling!!!!!!
Very happy jockey.

I also became a show jumper this month! Now registered with British Showjumping. Hector did really well in the Foxhunter and Rosie clocked up her first double clear in the newcomers, cant wait to do more.

Next outing is Wilton Intermediate with Danny, Smiths Lawn with Arabella and Rosie and then its Boo and Hectors first CCI* 

Next blog due first week of September and there is a lot to catch up on...

Friday 5 June 2015

Houghton Hall International

Houghton Hall International

Under 21 National Championships and My first three day 2*

The week of Houghton came round quickly, the beginning of the week was filled with last minute preparations including a dressage lesson with Lisa Ford, Osteopath appointments for Danny and I, the packing of the lorry and Mum of course baked enough to feed the whole lorry park for the whole four days!

Slight panic on Wednesday when we got a call from the Hardings to ask if we could let them know what happens in the riders briefing at midday. Panic set in…were we supposed to be there Wednesday? Yes apparently! However nothing we could do, Mum still had work to finish and we hadn’t finished packing.

Thursday came round and we were ready to rock and roll the lorry was full to the brim with mums amazing homemade cakes, Danny was looking very smart and we set off for our 4 and a half hour journey.

Houghton Hall is an amazing place. It's a deer park and has cool pieces of art dotted all over the place. As we walked to the trot up we walked past the xc and I could feel the adrenalin starting to kick in.

But first I had to think about the trot up and then the dreaded dressage.
I was so lucky as Timothy Foxx my sponsors had sent me the most wonderful jacket to wear. The trot up took place in front of the house, we were one of the last to go and then finally the words “For Great Britain, Harriet Upton and Carraig Dubh…accepted”

So back to the stables and quick tack up for ring familairtisation, whilst Mum started supper. Thursday was also our good friend Nicky Harding’s birthday, Mum had packed champagne and candles for a little celebration. We amalgamated our suppers, put up the side stables on our lorry (now known as the party area) and had a lovely evening catching up with Nicky, Mike and Harry. Much wine was consumed (by the adults)!

After a good night’s sleep in the lorry, Mum and I met Emma Fisher (U21 Coach) at the start of the cross country to do our first walk. It was big, bold and required you to get a good line on some of the combinations. But as I walked it I felt confident that it was within our capability.

It rained and rained that day. We watched a few dressage tests, cleaned and plaited Danny and got ready for our test.

In the meantime Michael and Lisa turned up from MDR photo, they had come to support for the whole weekend, which was so kind of them.

I met Gill Watson at the warm up of the dressage we prepared for our test. Although it rained before, it stopped when I went into the arena. We all thought it was a lovely test but unfortunately the judges did not! He was very correct and consistent but sadly not what they were looking for.

After my dressage I walked the course with Tina Cook, Swede (Nathalie Blomquiest) and Michael. It was great to do it with Tina as she knows Danny and me so well. We got a plan together.

That evening we combined food with the Hardings again, it was a lovely warm evening and the rain had stopped. Shortly after supper Mum, me Nicky, Mike and Harry were joined by Sam Ecroyd and Adam Gillespie, then Mary and Emily King, then Gill Bleloch came over, swiftly followed by Katie and Amber! A good time was had by all! The young ones all headed over to the entertainment a little bit later (just before we were needed for the clearing up)!

I wasn’t on till the afternoon so that morning so we had time to help Tina out for the day. Tina’s daughter Isabel and I went for a hack around the estate. Meanwhile Tina had cross country so Mum went to help her and Belles and I made it back in time to watch her. Whilst Mum helped out in the 10 minute box and washed off Tina debriefed with me and went through each jump of the course and how it rode.

I walked the course once more and watched a few of the trickier combinations. Lisa Sparrowhawk and her other half Paul arrived and so did Dad and my boyfriend Jake and then finally it was our time!

Tina and Belles came over just before I started to wish me luck and then I was being counted down. The cross country rode amazingly well, Danny was an absolute machine there is nothing better then riding him XC . 

Mum, Dad and Swede met me in the 10 minute box, Danny cooled down well and once his heart rate had been checked by the vet and a quick look over by Mark Lucy (U21 Team vet) we went back to the stable. Mum iced his legs whilst I got changed and then Michael walked Danny round. Shortly after we had an unofficial team trot up for vets, physios, selectors to look at how all the horses were after cross country. Danny passed with flying colours.

That evening we had a big bbq outside the lorry and we taught everyone to play a French game called Palet, which became VERY competitive. We did pop over to the evening entertainment on site and certain someone got very very drunk, I had to pretty much carry them to the lorry but I wont be naming names!

The final day Sunday dawned and it was raining again!

The final trot up was again in front of the house, all ok so we were cleared to jump the final phase.

It was a combined team effort all day as Tina was on her own with the kids and a bit of role reversal took place. Tina walked the sj course with me, there was unaffiliated sj going on so I walked Belles course with her whilst Tina was showjumping.

Then showjumping for the u21’s started. It was so exciting and not many clears so all to play for, as it went on the order changed and the time was tight to get too. Finally my turn came I knew when I was warming him up he felt good, we went in and he jumped a beautiful clear round not touching a pole and in the time. We came back from our disspointing dressage score to end up in the top 15, we were actually 13th

I am really pleased with the way we preformed especially as it was my 2nd ever 2* and first ever CCI2* (3day)

Next stop for Danny and I is Brightling where we will be doing another 2*