I am delighted to share with you this blog that my great sponsors Connolly's RED MILLS have asked me to write. So, the season is well underway at this stage and already it’s been an exciting one. We started off the season on not such a good note!
Prior to our first event in March, we thought it would be a good idea to take all of the horses Cross Country schooling up in Grange Farm. I always think it’s important to go to an event well prepared and no better place to practice some related distances and a water complex, than in Grange Farm up in Co. Meath. With six horses on board lorry and jeep and trailer, I said I would start with one of my babies first… this was not one of my finest ideas.
All was going fine until my five year old forgot he had legs jumping up a bank. This little mistake catapulted me forward out the front door, until, we decided that we did know how to use our legs, and in Jackie Chan style we managed to lift them up. Having been thrown forward with such force, I was now head butted back where I landed behind the saddle- “uh-oh”.
At this point he had given himself such a fright, he launched forward at high speed off the bank and I went flying out the back door and landed very awkwardly onto my shoulder. I have never broken any bones in my life before (touch wood) so I wasn’t sure if I had done damage or not. It then became excruciatingly painful and unfortunately I was not going to be able to carry on riding the others.
I managed to drive the jeep and trailer home and then Dad brought me up to Blanchardstown Hospital where I had ruptured all the soft tissue surrounding my A/C joint. This was possibly the worst timing ever. With the doctors telling me that I would be out of action for six weeks, this was dreadful news. “Time off from riding horses? It’s all I do!!!!”
I was extremely lucky to have such amazing support from my Mum, Belinda Brerton, a great family friend who came up and schooled a couple times a week, and of course my little star, Clare Brown. We were so busy at the time so to have everything kept ticking over while I was out was fantastic.
Three weeks after my accident, it was starting to feel much better and I felt that my shoulder, with lots of physio and TLC, would be ready to start riding. My first event back was Tyrella II and there was no way it was going to be a doddle. With five horses competing that day, I knew I had to be on my A-Game!!! I took it pretty handy with all of the horses over the cross-country and they all felt absolutely great.
It was also my first time to compete the new horse on the yard, Goldman, for Sally Corscadden. I was delighted when he jumped a lovely double clear to finish 4th in the pre-novice and also for BT Righty Ho who did a lovely double clear to win his section too. Since then, Righty has made his way over to his new home in Norway and I am excited to see this talented horse excel in the future with his new rider!
Tyrella set us up nicely for Ballindenisk International Horse Trials with the two big boys – Portersize Just a Jiff and BT border Bandit. Jif and I had been selected to represent Ireland on the Nation’s Cup team so I was excited to show what we could do as he was in such good form. Unfortunately we were drawn last on the team to go so the ground for our dressage was horrendous.
It’s a real shame, as the work produced in our test was no reflection of the amazing work that Jif is capable of doing and how hard we work on it…I know it’s a case of ‘if only’, but with these older horses each run is precious and to be ruled out of the competition after the dressage phase because of bad ground conditions, is not the nicest of feelings.
However, we were part of a team so it was important to put it behind us and carry on with the rest of the competition. The cross country was pretty straight forward so I was looking forward to getting out there and giving him a nice run.
The ground was absolutely perfect for this phase and he flew around clear inside the time like an absolute pro. I was lucky to have been drawn early with my other ride, BT Border Bandit, he produced a lovely test, and a text book double clear to finish fourth behind fellow RED MILLS Ambassador Elizabeth Power.
Since Ballindenisk we are preparing for our upcoming big internationals which will be Saumur 3* event in France next week for Jiff, and Tattersalls International Horse trials with BT Border Bandit and BT Pickapocket, who Clare Brown will be riding in his first International 1*- all very excited!!
My younger horses have been pulling out some great performances this spring, with BT Bentley winning the first leg of the ‘Stepping Stones to Success’ qualifier. BT Cloudnine has shown a lot of potential for the future with a couple of placing’s and a win under his belt, and Goldman, a new ride for me, has had a 4th and 2nd in his pre-novice outings, and a 2nd and a 1st in his novice outings. He is a half-brother to Artic Soul (4* horse) and I think he is going to be a real star for the future!
They are all in flying form and I put a lot of that down to the feed they are getting. All the young horses are on Cool Feed Cubes and chaff with Foran’s Karron Oil so that although they are getting a good bit of work and are fit, they are not getting too wound up at events. The three older horses are on the Horse Care 10 and 12% as they are doing quite a bit of fitness work for their runs coming up this season.
We are heading over France next week with Jif and of course for Tattersalls Horse Trials the following week. Looking forward to seeing you all there!
- Camilla Speirs