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*