Monday, 20 April 2015

My first International CIC 2* at Belton!!!!

There was great excitement in the lead up to Belton International not about the fact it was to be my first CIC 2* but the fact we were going to be staying overnight in our new lorry for the first time! Much fuss was made of the lorry, Mum and Dad spent days making sure everything had its place. There are plenty of hooks I know that much and it did in fact make my life a lot easier having everything really organised! It was also sparkling. Mum even got the window cleaners to clean the windows!!

We set off with a sparkling white horse and sparkling blue lorry, all went well till we missed the BIG yellow sign saying horseboxes (for the second year running). So after negotiating our way round Grantham town centre in rush hour, in a 36 foot long lorry we arrived! We kept under the radar that first day just doing the dressage, not walking any courses, we just checked the score board and then went to our overnight accommodation.

Danny performed a nice test, it was our first ever dressage together at that level. I think we could really improve on the medium trot work and the pirouettes to get a better test and dressage judges said he needed more lateral suppleness, so we will work on that for Houghton. But it was a big atmosphere and he was so soft and willing. I was really pleased and then found out we were lying in 12th  place after the first day of dressage and out of 60 competitors.

We had previously arranged to go with some friends back to Hannah Westropp's farm to stable overnight, thankfully Bella and her Mum Madeleine were not ready to go at the same time as us. Inputter error into the satnav the small 15 minute journey turned into 40 minutes. We ended up in the middle of a housing estate with a very unhappy bus driver trying to negotiate round us, he had to go up on to the pavement and very nearly took out a lamppost!  When we did eventually arrive at Hannah’s and found Danny's stable, it was a lovely big stables with his own pen. We were all invited in for supper, I say all… there were 35 of us! When we first went in we were introducing ourselves when someone said “Harriet Upton? As in one of the ones to watch in the programme?” Well Mum and I had not looked through the programme so I said “No, I think you much be thinking of someone else!” “No definitely it says Harriet Upton, you are trained by Tina Cook aren’t you?” We had no idea what they were talking about and then it was all forgotten as we got into the swing of the evening.

It was a fun night, some of us (Bella and I) didn’t partake in alcohol and some of us (Mum) did!! Actually I think we have Tristan Owers to thank for that, he kept topping up Mum’s glass, poor Tom McEwan that is all I can say, the conversation started about fitness and core strength but egged on by Matt and Kate Tarrant and with some not so little help from Emily Llewellyn he soon learnt that he had a pelvic floor and where exactly it was! Great dinner table conversation and I wasn’t embarrassed at all! In true eventers style as nearly everyone else had early starts our evening ended at 10 and everyone had lights out by 11! Then we suddenly remembered to look at the programme, oh my god, I could not believe I was in there as one of the five riders to watch. Right under Izzy Taylor and Sir Mark Todd!!

So after we had stopped giggling over the programme, we had a great night’s sleep in our lovely lorry and we went back to Belton Park, it only took us 15 mins going the right way! We had plenty of time as I was not on till 1.10pm. We walked the course bumping into all the junior selectors on our way and having a massive hug with the legend that is Ginnie Keen. Ground was super and the course big, bold lots of galloping and lots of combinations. It was a great course for Danny, I walked round it feeling quite confident that he would take this all in his stride. I walked the show jumping a little while after and to my dismay spotted the dreaded water tray. Danny hates water trays and it was under an upright. (I needed a plan and quickly)!

We checked the results at the end of the dressage put us in 22nd place out of 85 starters, not bad and achievable to finish in the top 20 which was my aim for my first competition at this level.

So I went back to the lorry contemplating my plan for the show jumping, I wasn’t too worried and Lisa Ford had said she would help me warm up so I had someone else to talk it over with. Not sure we ever get through an event without incident but Mum managed to bang her forehead on one of the locker doors, a little dazed she came back into to the lorry to tell me but  in order to hear her I opened the door and managed to give her another knock on the head in exactly the same place. So there is a nice bruise forming. 

So when we put the entry in for this event Mum asked what I wanted in the commentators notes, we decided nothing as I wanted to do this quietly and no fuss being my first one. We just added in my sponsors as we always do and left it at that. In the meantime the intermediates had finished and commentary turned to talking about the event and who was at the event. You can imagine our surprise when the commentator started to tell the story of how Danny and I came to be a partnership. It is a lovely story but as we stood in the lorry listening I felt a little under pressure when he told everyone to look out for me!  We don’t know how they got all the information but it was so lovely of them to highlight us and our story and I think having that pressure on as one to watch made me raise my game even more!

Photo credit to "The Bit". Many thanks
I met Lisa over at the warm up of the show jumping, she was just so great at helping me structure my warm up, we talked through the plan for the water tray and before I knew it, I was in. Danny just felt like he was on springs and did a beautiful clear. Only about 30% of the section went clear, I was so proud of him. Shaun and Janie Lawson were there too, who I co own Danny with and they were over the moon. I knew this would have moved me up the leader board and I think we worked out I had moved up to 18th place.

Quick change and on to the cross country. I was determined not to be a Granny around the cross country as going slow could seriously affect my top 20 placing I wanted so badly. We ended up with only 0.8 time penalties. Going back to the lorry to get Danny washed off we then had to wait as the results trickled through. Dad, Ross (Bro) and Michael Rogers (MDR Photo) were all tracking the live results at their respective houses. It was so exciting sitting in the lorry getting the texts each time I went up the leader board. Eventually it was confirmed we came 7th, I was so shocked and unbelievable happy. Huge shout came out of our lorry when we heard! Apologies to the lady and her dog going past at the time!

I love Belton as an event, it has a really special feel to it. I had a good ride there last season in the Junior Trial too and next year I want to bring more horses, even better we now have a great place to stay too!

It's back to training for me, I may have some last minute entries at Hambledon this week and I have four horses at Chilham next week and lots of training to do before Houghton U21 championships.


To Tina Cook and Shaun Lawson there are not enough thank yous for giving me Danny!

Big thank you to Lisa Ford who helped me prepare for my dressage before and helped me with my showjumping at the event and for taking all the videos!

Sponsored by: MDR photo, Timothy Foxx Clothing, LMEQ, EQU Streamz, The Pure Feed Company, Lisa Sparrowhawk and Sue Chinn.