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*

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Chilham Castle - From the groom's side!

So this is  blog take over!! We thought it would be great for Sian to guest blog about our day out with four horses at Chilham Castle! Sian had a much deserved day off the next day!

Over to Sian.....

So Chilham Castle this week for the BE100 and Novice with the three girls (Boo, Arabella and Rosie) and Hector (lad of the day) and it was another busy one!

Whenever I have to wake up at 3am I always wonder why on earth I decided that I wanted to be in Eventing because I am very rarely a morning person (in fact I don’t think anyone is a morning person at 3am, it’s just a silly time to be awake!) never the less! With my three alarms I managed to pull myself out of bed and be out the door by 3.30am to be at work for 4am, although with the roads being so quiet (I wonder why) I did get there before 4am and all the ponies were wide awake ready for breakfast (I wonder when they woke up..)?  What was quite exciting was trying to find Rosie in the field, in the dark and in the rain with only my phone torch…so as I trundled round her field in the rain clicking my tongue to try and gage where she was ( I didn’t want to shout….bit rude)! After walking around the whole field, I heard her galloping around the top half of the field trying to find me…cute but I was wet and wanted to get her in. Anyone who has met Rosie will know that she is a very inquisitive horse and my shortness of stature plus her head height when she is being nosy and looking up at something does make for somewhat of a problem when trying to put anything on her head. Finally she was in and eating, I inspected the damage to find she was clean and all plaits were still firmly in place!. Harriet came out just after I bought her in and helped get them all booted and suited and on the lorry and we were off at 5am ( after a brief panic as to where the sat nav handle thing was).

I would like the say that the journey went without a hitch but then that wouldn’t be very exciting! Anyway after a while Harriet and I had both fallen asleep (which I always feel a bit bad about leaving poor Justine awake and driving on her own!) About an hour and a half into the journey I was woken up by Justine saying that we had a problem, so we pulled over (on the motorway, of course) and the haynet cupboard was open and haynets were hanging out! Luckily we caught it in time, the door remained on its hinges and we didn’t lose any haynets or Justine as she struggled to get everything back in on the side of the motorway! We arrived at Chilham (still raining) at about 7.15am and everyone re grouped and woke up a bit before we started.

Harriet then announced that she was going to run around both courses and on went her running gear (yes I know, RUN! And Chilham is a very hilly, undulating course too! I then turned to Justine and said ”Only Harriet could run round two courses, ride four horses and then intend to go out clubbing!” (To be fair Harriet clubbing is a rare event and you can probably see why! So off she went and that left Justine and I trying to stud Rosie. Now people who follow my blog will know that Rosie isn’t the most helpful of horses to stud and can be very trying, so keeping her mind occupied and keeping her quiet and relaxed was our plan of action….it didn’t work…  We were parked next to some loud and stressy horses and two horses next door escaped too, so we decided rather than stressing Rosie and possibly hurting herself (and us) she was to go studless for the dressage and we would try after. When she was all ready to go, I went down to lunge her before Harriet got on. Lydia (Rosie’s owner) and Justine then went with Harriet to the dressage which left me to get Bella ready and studded up (she is a dream to do!)

Fred Ford by chance was parked behind us and came over and said “hi”, he asked me how it was going. I told him the story of Rosie’s studs and he very kindly offered to do then for me! Which was a blessing because he is much stronger than me and she was a dream to do when she realised what she had to do. She is just so inexperienced and doesn’t really fully trust anyone but is learning to slowly.

As Justine and Fred did Rosie’s studs, I lunged Bella (still raining) and Harriet got on did her test. Next was Rosie’s show jumping and bless her cottons she went clear! She pulled a very nice 28.8 dressage and clear cross country as well as Show Jumping! (See she’s a little star really). Arabella also did well only had one pole down and went clear cross country and did a 25.5 dressage! (Back on track Bella).

Then we had a mad dash as (groom error) I thought I had waaaayyy more time between Rosie finishing her cross country and Hector doing his dressage, (I didn’t) with all hands on deck he was still ready and lunged for his test in time whilst Lydia was very kindly walking a very tired Rosie around. When she was done and on the lorry (thanks again to Fred who de studded her and put her up) I made sure that I had Boo ready and looking beautiful. This time I had a chance to sort and clean the lorry, wash the cross country boots ready for the next lot to go (by this time it has stopped raining and was beautiful sunshine).

Boo and Harriet then went to do their test whilst I got Hector ready for show jumping. Thankfully we had a fairly long break as Harriet and Justine came back with a reporter from An Eventful Life magazine who had been filming and taking pictures of her and wanted to do film an interview! So Justine made everyone lunch, drinks and served up cake whilst Debbie the reporter talked to Harriet. I had my lunch on the step staying out the way, so I didn’t say anything embarrassing or fall into the living of the lorry (Definitely something I would do). I think Justine and I may have been caught on camera at the end!

When that finished Hector went jumping and came back with one down show jumping, clear cross country and did a lovely 30.8 dressage. Boo jumped last and after a smashing 27.5 dressage, had a clear show jumping but got tired round the cross country (which is very hilly).

So a good day at the office with Arabella placed 3rd ( I got a bit over excited about her winning a bucket), Rosie coming in 9th and Hector in 14th, YES we are back on form!

I managed to get all the tack cleaned before we left (this is a big plus), we were finally on our way around 6.15/6.30 and got home around 8.45/9 (Still cannot believe Harriet went out) and I got home at about 9.30/9.45 so it was a looooonnnnggg day.

Next week is Harriet 19th birthday, she is taking a couple of days break away, so we’re not eventing but after that we’re heading back up to Aston Le Walls with Boo, Arabella and Hector (He loves going out with his girls) so until then….