Eventing 2023 - An Honest Reflection.
It is always good to look back over the season, after having a moment to process the whirlwind of a years eventing! Here at Meridian Stud, there have been some memorable results along with the inevitable highs and lows.
My last blog focused on homebred 5 year old Merdianway Victory and his success at the Burghley Young Event Horse final finishing 11th. This was such a great day for everyone involved, especially the horse, who really came into his own. He looks to have an exciting future ahead. 5 year old MBF Jackpot also performed admirably all year. Taking to the eventing gam so easily, winning two events and finishing with a brilliant double clear at Cournbury 5 year old championships. It is very exciting to have these two for next year and beyond.
Higher up the levels, I was really pleased to qualify KEC Delicate Girl for the Novice Championships at Gatcombe. She put in a great performance in the showjumping, in very challenging conditions, before the event was sadly abandoned. But great to have got there. However, to remain true to the blog's title and give a full picture of the year, it has been far from plain sailing!
My most seasoned campaigner, Piccolo V, picked up a small injury just before eventing began in March. Although not a disaster, for me mentally to have him as part of the team to keep my confidence up was a challenge. I was then quite surprised that it took us some time to get back up and running after his break.
Hazard Z has always shown real promise and has super scope. However, after posting five double clears on the trot, including a top 10 placing at Tweseldown in the Intermediate, the wheels seem to come off. After a challenging time with him at Upton, it seemed that fate intervened. Our lorry broke down and Team O'conner kindly offered to take Harry (Hazard Z) home. He then spent some time there, with Austin doing a super job which culminated in 2nd place at Cornbury in the Intermediate. I have since had two confidence-bulidng runs on him and hopefully, we are now back on track. Sometimes you have to know when a change of scene or change of jockey can make a difference. As always it takes the eventing village...!
I also always find it interesting how the year can unravel so differently, from 1. What have you planned, 2. How can each individual horse progresses. A great example of this, is with the two 5 year olds. Jack remained super confident (at times almost a bit too bold!) throughout the year, whereas Victor I had to be mindful to keep his confidence high and take it morse slowly. They both finished the year feeling great in their respective classes (with Victor finishing 3rd at Tweseldown 100 in his last event, and I have already mentioned Jack's Cornbury triumph), but the path they took to get me there was quite different.
With both mares I have competed, KEC Delicate Girl (Delphi) & Timpex Karizma (Kizzy), I had to be aware of keeping them happy in their minds and their bodies. I had rider falls off with of them mid-season and had to build back up from those. Kizzy came back especially well picking up 2nd at Swalcliffe, which was rewarding for the work put in. With her, our team of farrier and vets worked really hard ti address some foot balance issues - it was real attention to detail stuff, but this is so important when competing horses and we owe it to them to leave no stone unturned when it comes to their welfare.
Moving onto a more light hearted note, I have been showing our last homebred Fly the sights and sounds as he is now 4.Fly and water jumps seem to have provided some of the funniest moments of the year. During his first ever schooling trip at Chiltern XC, it took our lovely livery Philippa and her horse Fitz to get him in, where he then played with his head in Philippa's lap as a comfort blanket! He then knocked me over when trying to lead him into the water at Boomerang and I got very wet! The joys of young horses! But I am pleased to report that he is gradually progressing with his confidence with water, so the patience and time (not to mention the soakings) were worth it!
The winter months now lie ahead, which can seem quite daunting after the warmer summer months eventing. I do look forward to field mastering for the Berks & Bucks draghounds during our downtime, a day with them always provides some winter fun for both horses and I. There is nothing like jumping hedges with no pressure to put a smile on everyone's faces!
During the off season, we will do a review of the competition horses looking at their performance across all 3 phases. Looking at statistical analysis helps to set goals for next year and create a winter training programme needed to get there. This helps with the daily grind and gets some focus into training. So, for next year, my hopes would be:
- To qualify Jack and Victor for 6 year old finals at Cornbury and possible selection for Le Lion
- Doing a 3*L on Delphi
- Taking Pickle Advanced
- Producing new rides Ava and Ricky up the levels and to a potential 3 day.
It is a big list, and there will undoubtedly be some twists and turns along the way, but I am looking forward to working & training hard to see what I can make possible!