We catch up with Claire Taylor for the last time in her final Equo blog:
It’s with a heavy heart I write my last blog as Equo’s north-east brand ambassador, and what a 10 months it has been.
I remember being on tenterhooks all day one Tuesday waiting to find out if we had been selected, and when the call came, our adventure started!
At the start of my sponsorship, I had a four-year-old, Oakley, who hadn’t yet been to any competitions under saddle. Thanks to Equo, I found a fabulous new trainer in Philip Curtis to help us on our way and several lovely new venues I wasn’t previously aware of, which were perfect for starting his competitive career.
Normally, I wouldn’t really compete in winter, I just stuck to hunting, but with so many newly found indoor venues I have competed more than ever before, all year round. So much so, that I actually didn’t find a spare weekend in which to have a day out hunting last winter!
Of course, if you have been following my blogs you will know all about Oakley and his problematic tummy preventing him currently being in work, but I’m so grateful for Equo Events for allowing me to give him such a great start. Prior to his problems, he had many successes, even managing to win at only his second competition with a dressage score of 69% – 14% ahead of the competitor in second place.
As for another of my horses, Patch, the thoroughbred stuck in a coloured pony body, she has had the best season ever. I can count on one hand the number of times she has returned without a red rosette across a variety of disciplines. That’s the beauty of Equo – there are events at every discipline, meaning I could enter something different every week!
Thanks to such a varied and busy routine, everything Patch has done has improved. Despite having had her since six months old, I had only really hunted and done some in hand showing and dressage.
As we started our Equo journey, Patch was competing at 60cm showjumping – she is now consistently winning at 85cm and recently jumped the only clear in a 95cm jump off to win. I’ve now decided to take the plunge and register her with British Showjumping this year, and I am pleased to say most of my local BS venues are on Equo.
I’ve made some fantastic friends along the Equo way, and meeting each of my fellow brand ambassadors at HOYS in October was a huge highlight, and I instantly felt like I had known everybody ages! I’ve so enjoyed reading all the blogs with everybody’s ups and downs, celebrations and frustrations and will follow each of them with interest in the future.
I must of course mention Jodi, my area representative, who has done such a fabulous job getting my local venues on board. I’ve loved chatting all things Equo with Jodi over coffee, giving feedback on the website and suggesting organisations or venues we thought might benefit from Equo, and I’m sure we shall continue our coffee meetings in the future!
Entering through Equo really is so easy – with a memory like a goldfish I was always forgetting to send entry forms in, or would fill them in and forget to get a stamp, or post it. With Equo, once I’d decided to go somewhere, I could enter straight away in a matter seconds. I’ve entered competitions in breaks at work, in bed and even riding out!
Being a creature of habit, I would often stick to going to the same venues all the time, but seeing new venues on Equo has encouraged me to broaden my horizons massively.
At the start of winter I discovered Willow Banks Equestrian and it has since become a firm favourite! It has such a beautiful set up with big, airy arenas and a professional feel, plus excellent prizes – which always helps! It has since become my lucky venue – we have yet to leave without a red rosette!
Another new venue is Stone Lodge, which always has a laid back atmosphere and is very encouraging to competitors; currently they hold dressage and showjumping competitions, plus clinics and lessons – this is where I took Oakley when we first got started.
I also love White House Farm, who have a lovely cross-country course and is one of few venues that hold competitions on grass, which is preferable for me! They also hold BS shows as well as hunter trials, ODE and showing shows.
I’ve felt honoured to be competing in my Equo kit and will still wear it with pride whilst promoting the Equo name and concept – it will certainly continue to benefit myself as a rider and competitor and will always be the first place I look for competitions.
It may sound like a cliché, but it really has been a wonderful experience and I am so grateful for the opportunity – people like me don’t normally get these chances, and I feel so motivated to have had it.
I have also used Equo from the other side – as an organiser, being on the committee for the Epworth and District riding club. Its very much a new concept for the long standing club, and not only is it easy for the organisers, I’m delighted to say our competitors have embraced it too! Around 90% of our dressage entries are now done online even with postal entries still being an option.
On that note, sorting the dressage times is a piece of cake using the Equo system, leaving me more time for riding and less time on the computer!
I have loved every single second of being a brand ambassador, from our quirky initial voting campaign, to doing the blogs and writing our top tips or training exercises! I’m proud to see Equo taking off so quickly and delighted to have been a part of it.
I’m now used to seeing the Equo banner everywhere, be it in Horse & Hound Magazine or around the arenas of the big shows and venues!
I still have lots to look forward to, and currently have three competitions entered on Equo for the coming weeks, a new pony just arrived and GT, my lovely dressage horse, finally coming back into work after a year off with a suspensory (bad timing or what!)
So for now, from Team Taylor – Thank you Equo, its been a pleasure!