"Although I have worked hard for this and really believed I could do it, when the decision was finally made and I was told I had made the squad it took a while for it to sink in!"
After the U18 championships it was back to reality I only had a couple of days to get used to the new horse on the yard Peanut and then we were off to Tweseldown with four, Peanut, Boo, Arabella and Hector. It was a Hectic day helped enormously by Emily Bennett who is Ken Spencers groom
and Lisa Sparrowhawk who as well as being a good friend is an Equestrian NLP Performance Coach (handy)!! We had a great day some average results but Boo got placed and all the others ran well.
A week later we were off to Nunney International Horse Trials with Hector and Arabella, they ran brilliantly coming in at 6th and 7th within 1.5 points of each other. It was Arabella's first Novice and she did a stunning double clear. I will never forget the shock and disbelief of the tragedy that happened very shortly after I had finished and what a tragic day it turned out to be for the eventing world.
Rackham was next up for Boo and Peanut. We moved Boo up to the 100, she was so bold xc, got confused at the sunken road but went second time but took the one strides as bounces and generally gave stewards and commentators heart failure. This was mine and peanut's second event and we had had a couple of weeks to get to know each other resulting in a 29 and a double clear for 5th place.
Eridge the week after and another double clear for Peanut and another top ten placing, Boo was also really good. Her 40 penalty points xc were purely from the fact she over jumped and I didn't want to haul her round to the second part of the jump, we circled and approached it properly.
Barbury International was our next port of call with Danny, it was the final selection trial before the long list. What a fantastic event. Michael and Lisa came from MDR photo and captured the whole day on film. Danny felt on top form, Antonia Brown warmed me in for dressage and showjumping. Danny's dressage was just brilliant, rider error in the show jumping meant that Danny had to take over for a bit but he got us clear and then he did a beautiful clear xc in the time. It was an exciting finish and we ended up in third place. Absolutely over the moon. We didn't stay for the party, I knew I had 2 competing in two days time and wanted to get back to ride them. But next year.....
Here is the video of all three phases https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIuKhNw6pw4
On the Monday we received a letter from the Head of Selectors inviting me and Danny on to the long list for the Junior GB team.
On the Tuesday I was back at Tweseldown in the Novice with Arabella and Hector, Arabella did another beautiful double clear for a top ten placing. Hector did the most beautiful dressage and then the heavens opened and an hour and half later we had completely different ground, poor Hector slipped everywhere and rolled a few poles I decided not to take him xc as I didn't want to shake his confidence as he had been running so well.
The end of that week we were running at Brightling - huge thank you to Brightling and in particular Sarah Hayter, we put Hector on the wait list for the 100 to give him a run and the morning of the event they managed to get us in. So we were now three up for Brightling. Thank you Carolyn Gorman and Ellie Thorman for all your help. Peanut had yet another top ten placing and double clear, Hector ran really well but was HC so couldn't be placed, Boo had a stop at the ditch but went second time but again was really good.
And then it was Aston le walls, Lisa Sparrowhawk came with us (thank you Lisa for getting up at 2.30am)!! First up the Novice on the Friday with Hector and Arabella. Both did brilliant dressages, but we had had a horrendous journey m40 closed, huge diversion, it was the hottest day of the year, they were exhausted when it came to the show jumping they both rolled the poles, they just could not pick up their feet, they went xc both clear but very slow. The really did try their hearts out. Back late Friday night, afternoon off Saturday and meal out in the evening to take my mind off the following day - the final GB selection trial before the final squad announcement........
Sunday arrived, we left early so that we could do the course walk with Caroline Moore. Lisa, Grandad and Michael and Lisa from MDR came too, it was great to have their support. I was very nervous before the dressage and Antonia who was warming us up kept telling me to breath, the thing is I usually leave my nerves behind when I get in the ring and that is exactly what happened. I was so pleased with the test. It is not one I can practice a lot because it is in a long arena. Danny did brilliantly, next time we need to improve the halt and the leg yielding to get even better marks. The show jumping was proving tricky for quite a few sections before us and about two thirds of my sections had poles down but yet again Danny was a pro and he did a beautiful clear we went straight back and got ready for cross country. I had decided not to ride for the time as I wanted to make sure he didn't sustain any injury or have a mistake that could take us out of contention. We did a nice forward, rhythmic clear, without overdoing it and ended up in 3rd place. Really could not have wished for a better run in our last trial. Out of 8 completed runs this year Danny has got 6 double clears.
The whole squad went to stay at a stables nearby, we had such a great evening, all the parents did a joint BBQ and we had our last supper together before the announcements the following day.
I was up at 5am (actually neither Mum or I really slept) to feed Danny, we had the trot up at 6.30am, then the physios came an looked over the horses and then the long wait. We were finally called in and told who had been selected. I knew I had had a good season with Danny, I knew we had been consistent but I still hadn't dared think that we might be selected. Such an amazing feeling, we went out a celebrated that night (I daren't tell you the time I got back)! But the very next morning (well 3 hours later) I was back out riding the other horses and focussed for our next event with them.
Europeans is 14th - 18th August Bishops Burton, Yorkshire. Before then I have team training in Nottingham, 3 horses to compete at Chilham, then I go to concentration and from there straight to the Europeans. I will be blogging for British Eventing on the run up and the actual competition and will post the links from here. So for now goodbye and see you on the other side.....