In my last blog both Smokey and I were out of action: Smokey with a hefty abscess and me with a rather serious bump to the head. Well, I am now very excited to say that we are both off that rollercoaster (for the time being – they’re horses after all) and are back out competing again!
We decided to take things quite slowly to allow us time to get back up into full fitness by getting our strength back and our eyes back on competing, so it was a trip down to Cobham Manor for some dressage – entered via Equo Events, of course! Cobham Manor were amazing following my fall as they kept my February entry and kindly moved it to April. It’s quite shocking to think that we have haven’t actually been out and about competing, or even training, since January!
We ended up taking both horses down to Cobham Manor as Hektikos hadn’t been out since January either and we felt both horses could do with a pony party and some prancing. Hektikos did brilliantly in the Prelim – we called in a last minute favour from my friend Lucy to ride him, as unfortunately my head still wasn’t up to the challenge of two horses and three tests. We were over the moon to see that they came 2nd out of a big class, and in a long arena test, which he can sometimes struggle with.
Then it was Smokey’s turn to strut his stuff. Smokey was very keen to be out and gave me some very pleasing work in the first Novice test. I stupidly saluted with my whip in my hand, which lost us two marks and a comment from the judge! Why I did it I do not know and I was left kicking myself. I was really pleased though to get our sheet and to find out that we had won the class with a respectable score of 66+% – it would have been 69% if I didn’t have my ‘whip blip’…
The second Novice, 39, was a very tough test, which was a good step up before our Elementary debut in June. It had three halts and a rein back, counter canter (with giving and retaking the reins) as well as medium trots and medium canters.
Smokey really came into his own again and we got some brilliant work from him. I was not going out expecting a lot due to our time off from injuries, but I was so pleased with the work he gave me and even more pleased to know that he has so much more to give. There were elements of our test that could still be improved, for example we only learnt rein back the day before – nothing like being fully prepared aye…
When we went in to collect our sheets I was really shocked to see that we had got just over 68%! I was absolutely over the moon and even more excited to crack on with some Elementary preparation.
Last weekend we had the chance to get a last minute slot in a cross-country clinic with the Australian event rider Mark Boxall over at Nurstead Court in Meopham. With so much being cancelled and so many courses being shut I was a bit dubious about the ground, but I can honestly say it was incredible! It was so bouncy, not holding and had a great grass covering. We had very small studs on just incase but we didn’t need them at all.
The last time Smokey and I went cross-country schooling was back in January for a clinic with Nick Gauntlet. For this reason, and with my confidence taking a knock from my fall, we decided to practice angles and technical elements rather than big bold fences.
Smokey was yet again a superstar. He popped everything first time round and was so keen to be out and about again. I’ll ignore the bit about nearly getting bucked off at the end when we went for a gallop and he got his head between his legs and went full rodeo on me… how I stayed on I shall never know. It did make me giggle though and make me grin at how feisty he was feeling, despite a full hour of training!
Next stop for us is Chilham Park BE event. Our first event of the season! I cannot wait! We’re feeling really positive for Chilham and really looking forward to getting out and enjoying the day (fingers crossed it stays dry for the next week). We will also be at Badminton Horse Trials from Wednesday to Sunday, so look out for the Equo Jacket and if you spot me come and say hello!
Catch up soon,
Want to find out what else Jessica Leroy and Smokey have been up to? Check out their other Equo brand ambassador blogs.