Monday, 18 November 2013

What a Year!

It was Buddy’s anniversary of arriving at Rockley Farm on Saturday and after a wonderful video (which definitely didn’t give me leaky eyes) from Nic and a guest spot on the Rockley blog this morning I thought it was apt to reflect on the last 12 months.
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My first visit to see Le Donks
Buddy’s diagnosis last September called an end to all my competitive hopes and wildest dreams of competing at a 1* event and after a grim prognosis from my vet, plus my previous experience with my last horse, I was convinced that PTS would most probably be the final answer and I was devastated. After contacting Nic and feeling that glimmer of hope that things *may* not have to be as devastatingly final I still didn’t dare to dream about anything and my competitive aims were shelved and the objective of just being able to hack my horse out comfortably and without bute was the highest I dared to aim for. I missed Buddy terribly whilst he was away and I think it would be fair to say that only the cold winter nights I would have far rather been covered in mud and freezing cold rather than sitting at home feeling despondent and rather depressed!

As time went on and Buddy’s feet began to change that glimmer of hope got bigger and bigger. Each blog post was read, re-read and read again. My first ride at the 6 week point was awesome (and terrifying) and then the 8 week soundness was a dream come true. On one of my last visits I remember Nic saying that she thought Buddy should do an event in the 2013 season (or words to that effect) and whilst I nearly fell off in surprise I also felt full of happiness and pride that my little donkey had the potential to fulfil all my dreams despite everything he had been through.

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We have been on an onward trajectory ever since, every time I think of our first competition I feel very proud and I owe Nic so much as without her and all her hard work Buddy would probably have been PTS or been a fluffy teddy bear in a field and I would have been horseless, heartbroken and miserable. We’ve had highs and lows but since we moved yards in June and I have been surrounded by incredibly supportive people who want us to succeed all the bad things about being barefoot have been taken away and we are headed in the right direction.

Go Buddy from Nic Barker on Vimeo.

I am not taking anything for granted, I appreciate every second with my amazing horse and each sound day is a blessing but after being at the RRR in September I realised that I cannot live my life being haunted by what has been before. Buddy is sound today, back competing (and getting 8’s for his paces) and if we hadn’t been on the journey of the past year I wouldn’t have a second thought about planning for the future and pushing the boundaries. So, in celebration of that, I have written down my event plan for next season (in pencil as Buddy is still a horse and you never know what might happen!!) and my training from today is planned around that first event date in March 2014. My long term aim now is to qualify for Badminton Grassroots if Buddy settles into being a barefoot event horse.

Happy anniversary Buddy, you are my horse of a lifetime, here’s to many, many more!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Back on Form!

I'm pleased to report that this weekend was far more successful than our trip last weekend! We were on our own again and off to another new venue, although it is only 2 minutes down the road so it is very convinient. We loaded well again and we were on the road and there in less than 10 minutes. 

We had entered Intro A and Prelim 4 as I like him to do two tests and hang around for a bit. I thought I'd got my timings better but despite being at the venue with 50 minutes before my test I still only had 15 minutes to warm up which was ok but I'd rather have had 20. My YO was still around as she'd had a young horse do their first test and so I nabbed her to call for me as I'd not had time to visually run through my test before going in and didn't want to forget it.
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Posing by the lorry and looking fluffy
Buddy had a good look at the viewing gallery and had a nosey at the judge in her box but settled quickly and did a very nice test which I was pleased with. I would like a bit more activity in the walk but that will come. Back to the lorry, put Buddy in and made sure he was settled before going and getting a cup of tea. The facilities at Fairoak are fabulous and it's definitely somewhere I will go back to (my husband is annoyed he missed out on cake and paninis).

They hadn't got my score up so I went back to the lorry to take a look at my second test and make sure I had it in my head. It was soon time to get back on again and I did a shorter warm up this time, just a good stretch, trot on both reins, some lateral work and a quick canter on both reins and then straight in. I was really pleased with the test, we fluffed up the first canter but I think it's becoming a bit of a 'thing' for me so will need to work on that. I also semi forgot what I was doing and so thought I'd just trot to the next marker and then realised I had to go all the way round the school so picked up canter again. It was a bit messy and earned a 3 plus the comment 'problems' but never mind. Second canter was the best I could have hoped for and was as good as I'm getting at home so that made up for it! Walk was a bit lazy (but not as bad as last week) but I was really, really pleased with him.
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Check out those ears!
As I came out one of the ladies running it said we'd come second in the first class which was fab so I went back to the lorry and sorted out B before going to get my sheet. We'd actually ended up on the same score and collectives as the winner but the rules of the RC are that highest place goes to an RC member which is fair enough but it would have been lovely to finally get that red rosette. 

Scores weren't ready for the prelim so I took Buddy home and went back for my sheet once the class was finished. Well Mr Buddy, despite our rubbish first canter, came third! I was gobsmacked as the judge is well thought of in our area and she made some lovely comments and gave Buddy an 8 for his paces in the collectives which I was super chuffed with.
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Big Grins!
I really appreciate every second I have with Buddy and it's times like today when I think back and just am amazed that we have come so far. I am very lucky to have such a wonderful, kind horse who I can just have fun with and enjoy. He really is my horse of a lifetime and I feel very priviledged.

We're planning on going showjumping next (at the giddy heights of 70cms) as I don't think Buddy was overly impressed with doing dressage two weekends in a row so watch this space.