Well peeps it is with great delight I am writing to tell you about our amazing result at Barbury Castle Horse Trials last weekend. Not wanting to bragg but........Airtime was at his very best and made the 2* track feel easy and we just had the best weekend ever! We had Thursday dressage so went down early Thursday morning to prepare and also had the lovely Tully (Tullyoran Field of Dreams) on the lorry to do the BYEH 5yo section.
Albert (Airtime) was on mega form and produced what I thought was his best test to date – (regardless of the score), but I was secretly confident that he would score well as it all felt right and in the right place!
The scores on Thursday were a little slow to come out and it was only when I received a text message from Chloe (Airtimes owner who couldn’t be there) to say well done that I knew we had done well, scoring 43.1 – our best result ever!
Dearest Albert lead the dressage all the way through Thursday and well into Friday where he was just pipped by Chris King and Billy Bounce by 0.3 of a mark. To finish Friday in second place out of over 90 starters was in my eyes a bloody good effort. Whatever happened next I was definitely going to enjoy the moment seeing as Albert has only had two Novice runs this year – which was perhaps not the most ideal prep!
Tully was a little star in the BYEH, scoring the best jumping mark of the day out of 52 starters and her dressage score was up there as well. Sadly the judges didn’t love her gallop as much as I do and she was pulled in 7th after this phase. I don't really know what the judges are looking for in these classes, as you can get top marks one week and be bottom of the pile the next however, I do think they are great to get young horses out and about, espcially when they have Tully's personallity and need to learn that not every outing will end in cross country. I think three qualified for Burghley so it was pretty tight and in my eyes she was fantastic and behaved impeccably throughout.
As a interlude to Barbury, we went to Allenshill in Friday for a day of dressage with Comet (Shannondale Comet), Baby Dennis (Future Divine Illusion) doing his first ever test, Pants who have for schooling and Tiffany riding the lovely Harry. All the horses went really well and Comet managed to score over 65% (and win) in both of his Elementary tests which I was chuffed to pieces with as this was his debute in his new career as a dressage pony.
Dennis did his first ever tests and was a Baby Dennis's first outing and was a little green (understandably) but a really good boy. He is going to be something special so watch this space!
Pants was his usual awesome self and produced two really consistent test to win both classes and Tiff has done a great job with Harry horse and is getting a better partnership together every time they go out.
So back to Barbury it was on Saturday with high expectations on my part – I had decided I was going for the win and nothing (well maybe Chris King) was going to stop me.
On walking the cross country course I decided it was all very jumpable as long as Albert was on good form and the Show Jumping didn’t look too big either (a bonus for us) so yes, I was certain it was going to be a good day!
Albert warmed up really well for the show jumping and felt as good as ever so I went in knowing that as long as I rode well a clear round was possible and guess what, yup he pulled it off, he was never going to touch a rail and jumped the best round of his life (with me). When I compare it to a year ago at Barbury, where he felt green and slightly under confident, he was a different horse and it was a very special moment to come out of the show jumping ring knowing we had blitzed it.
Rebecca and Chloe Herbert were there to support, as were Mr Pickles, my beautiful mother and sister Suzie. It was one of those moments that you just wish you could re-create again and again as to go into xc in pole position was something that doesn’t happen every day. Suzie also did a fab job of stepping in for normal Team photographer for Max Ross, so thanks for doing a fab job.
I was a little nervous in the XC warm up although not about the jumps but more about the desire to go clear and inside the time. I had decided before I set out to take one long route as Albert hasn’t seen many double of corners for a while I was not going to risk a run out. So we set off with jelly legs but with a steely determination that we were going for the win. It was the best round of my life, Albert was flying and made it all feel easy, he never backed off a single fence and felt scopey and honest all the way through. He is such a quick horse that the long route payed off and we came home two seconds inside the time – you could say it was bloody well judged but I think a little bit of luck in these situations is just what one needs sometimes!
So we spent the best part of 2 hours in the lead and watching Billy Bounce jump a clear SJ round was nail biting stuff - I knew that he would be also going for the win. We watched him fly round the xc beautifully and fly over the finish line with a good 11 secs to spare.
The Team at the yard had told me not to bother coming home unless I won so it really was a tough phone conversation to tell them I had only come second in a really strong 2* section, however, luckily, they were really understanding and said they would let me off just this once – pheweee!
So there you go, our best result to date on the back of the least preparation and with my family and the Herberts there to support it really was one of the best days so far – you could say a career highlight.
The Team back at HQ were tweeting all day which was so lovely and I really couldn’t have done it without them. Albert looked awesome and I knew they were all behind me which really does make all the difference.
I have received so many lovely text messages and facebook posts about our fab result so thank you everyone who is involved with Team Pickles - vets, physios, farriers, sponsors, and of course Alberts owners the Herberts who have been part of the team for a long time now and are such big supporters of me and Albert it was our best result to date and one we won't forget!
I am very excited to say that I have a new ride in the form of Rebels Hero (Hugo) who belongs to Hannah Okines. Hannah worked for me for a very long time and has decided that Hugo deserves a chance at the big time and has very kindly added him to my string. To say I am excited is an understatement and we are having our debut at Upton House this week in the BE100. Hugo originally came from Equestrian Direct and is a very exciting prospect for the future.
Coco (Miss Coco Chanel) is winging her way to Team Pickles soon and again the excitement is high. She has nearly finished her quarantine with her owners Hannah and Michael Henderson and I am literally counting down the days.
Ron (Gooseberry Hill Castle), Apple (Ciderpress) and Rosie (Whole Lotta Rosie) are out next week at Stafford which will be a very exciting day for all of them as it has been a while since they have been out and about.
Rosie, was our Mascot at Barbury and I will give her the credit for the 2nd place to her as she kept Albert calm and focused all day long and was the perfect pony to give him the winning edge. That and the Butet saddle that my fab sponsors Red Horse Rug Clean sent my way last month. It really is a lovely saddle and one that I shall cherish along with my Albion that my lovely owners Kate and Mel Willis bought earlier this year. Without such a great support team this sport is impossible so to everyone who is helping me along the way to achieving my goals a huge – THANK YOU.
Till next time,
The sun is still shining and one can safely say we have had a summer this year and what a difference it has made to everyone here at Team Pickles – let’s hope this spell continues and we can finish the season with good going and some fun days out.
The horses are all on great form with Apple(Ciderpress) making a good comeback. She did her first event at Carlton and was 3rd in the 100Open and then went to Aston Novice where she was 6th. She felt like an old pro and popped round the XC no problem so we are aiming for Gatcombe CIC1* as our next big thing!
Albert (Airtime) has made a good recovery from our not so good time at Aston le Walls Advanced. I can only think that he was suffering with bruised feet after losing both his shoes at Barbury. We had a good run at Somerford, where he did the best XC of my time with him. He was totally on the ball and made it feel like a piece of cake. There were some difficult lines and good old Albert never thought twice about taking it on. I didn’t want the round to finish as we were having so much fun. What was really nice is we got some good compliments from the Ground Jury and Course designer about our round. He lowered three rails Show Jumping which on the day was really disappointing however, he was really confident and was jumping well so I think with a bit of practice SJ at this level again we will be back to form! We still managed to come 29th out of a field of 100+, so not a shameful result by any means.
Obviously the weekend was not without tragedy and it was just so sad to hear the news of the fatality of Tom Gadsby. I did not know Tom at all but can only express my sorrow for such a horrible thing to happen to someone so young and dedicated to the sport. It really does bring home the risks we take when we go eventing and my thoughts are with his family and connections at this sad time.
I feel desperately sad also for the event organisers and owners, everyone working at the event and all those involved at Somerford Park. It is an amazing event with superb going, great courses, and fences that have been designed to be inviting and horse friendly. For such a terrible thing to happen will have an effect on all those at Somerford Park for a very long time.
The horses have all been having a bit of pampering with the amazing Equissage Pad that our fab sponsors Red Horse Rug Clean, Central Clipper Care and Central Embroidery has sent our way. Having a massage before riding has really made a difference to them and will now be a big part of our daily routine.
The BE100/BE90 crew are all going well and Percy (Knights Escapade) is on great form, finishing 4th in his last two events. Ron (Gooseberry Hill Castle) has had some good top ten results and will be for sale at the end of this month if anyone is looking for a nice horse to event/hunt and have fun on. He is a very kind horse and loves his competing so watch this space as an advert will be coming soon!
Hugo (Rebels Hero) is a very exciting horse for me and we are going to finish the season gaining strength and confidence so that next season we can really start to step up to the next level. He feels like he needs this winter to mature and will be a serious horse for the future.
And not forgetting Rosie Pony (Whole Lotta Rosie), she had a really unlucky first fence down at Homme House to push her out of the top 10, however, our Autumn campaign is busy so I am sure she will be back on the podium again!
Tully (Tullyoran Field of Dreams) is also maturing very quickly; she is a very exciting horse for me with a super jump and plenty of scope. She has probably missed out on the 5YO champs this year but she is one for the future and a horse I am seriously excited about.
The pupils are also going really well and are going from strength to strength at each competition we go to. Tiff is our dressage queen at the moment although Mary and Brooke (Take Your Pick) scored an impressive 22 at their last BE100 which I don’t think I have been able to beat this season – I better try a little harder!
Alex and Reggie are off to the PC champs this weekend and we wish them all the best of luck and Jodie P has just come back off her holidays so she and Bryn are raring to go this weekend at Milton Keynes.
A super well done as well to the WHPC for coming 10th at the PC Eventing Champs up at Cholmondley Castle. It sounds like you did a sterling job as the XC caused a lot of problems.
Sadly I didn’t attend as I stupidly managed to do my self another injury on the Dream Machine. This time me and the partition had a collision which resulted in me seeing a lot of stars and having a chaperone home from my good friend Bill Levett – thank goodness for good friends when you are having a crisis.
So all busy as ever at Team Pickles HQ but once again thank you to my fab team and sponsors who make it all possible and are all behind me – I really couldn’t do it without you all.
So with eight weeks of eventing left we are going to be busy but with some good events coming along it should be a really fun time ahead.
Until next time,