What’s so wrong with wearing spurs to Uni?
I certainly got a few weird looks when I walked down the main street at Sydney Uni on my way to a lecture yesterday dressed in full riding attire, breeches, chaps and spurs. My friends were even more surprised when I told them I had been up since before dawn to ride horses in time to make it to Uni. Most of my friends struggle to get out of bed before their 10am lectures! This might seem strange to the urbanite students who grace the USYD campus but it is common-place for many eventers. I sometimes wonder what makes us get up before the sun to do some circle work, personally I need all the practice I can get and luckily my horses eat plenty of carrots so their night vision is good. All this pre-dawn riding is aiming towards Sydney three day event at the end of April which will hopefully give me and Barrel of Fun the qualifier we need for Adelaide this year. Our preparation has been going well, with all the coaching I have been getting over the summer months (wet season) paying off. As I ride alone almost every day I try and get lessons at least once a week. For dressage I train with Ann Slatford and have spent hours just working on half halts, while we are a long way off perfecting them our flatwork has improved a lot with much better collection and extensions. Unfortunately my test riding skills are quite lacking so we still lose marks for inaccurate tests. For showjumping I go to Colleen Brooks regularly and although it takes me almost an hour to get there I have found my rounds getting much more consistent.
The first outing for me this year was Bowral show where I placed 4th in the 1.20 AM5 and won the 1.20 derby finishing ahead of another eventer, George Sheridan in 3rd. George's time was actually the quickest of the day but he unfortunately had two rails down. It was certainly good to see a couple of eventers finishing on the podium at a jumping competition. With rain cancelling most competitions for the next month I had to wait until SIEC midweek for the next outing. In the prelim I was 4th on Lara Dombrovskis elegant mare Liza and 11th on my OTTB Mark, both of whom are for sale (hint, hint). Shamus(Barrel of Fun) had his first event for the season in the 2*. We were lying 3rd after dressage but unfortunately dropped to 4th with a couple time penalties, but I was very happy with his clear show jumping round. Tim Boland finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th with Stuart Tinney in 6th with two of those horses being on the National A squad so it was a great result for us.
The following weekend saw me at SIEC again, this time as a commentator for the NSW State interschools. It is always a great event with riders coming from far and wide to compete and listen to me take a bit of artistic license out over the loudspeaker. I was also lucky enough to pick up a new sponsor, Top2Tail Equestrian, who sell some really cool polo shirts and competition wear so feel free to check out their website or Facebook page.
Then it was back to Uni, somehow managing to attend two out of ten hours of class in my first week … obviously getting ready for Scone was much more important where I finished 7th in the 3*. A young Irish sport horse who I am really excited about, Ashmead Her Highness (Otherwise known as Pippa the coloured horse below) had her first event at Scone and having never done a showjumping round before I was very impressed that she just rolled the last show jump on course and went clear cross country. I have to add that it did take me about a minute to get from the start box to fence one but by fence four we had got into a rhythm and she powered round the course.
Last weekend was Castle Hill show where, on the first day, we jumped clear in the 1.15 then knocked a couple in the 1.25, mainly my fault for trying to fang! On Sunday I was only went in the 1.20 AM5 as the ground was very rain affected and even with my biggest studs in the arena was still very slippery. I'm sure Shamus's Irish heritage helped with a clear in the first round and just the last fence down in the jump off, again my fault! We finished 3rd in that and with the 50 bucks in prize money I actually covered the cost of entry's from two days of showjumping!
The next few days will be quite busy as I am off to Camden show before driving up the central coast to stay with my Dad and head to Muswellbrook show on Saturday before going to the Watagan Dressage day on Sunday. Among all that I have to find time for some study on International Economic Relations ... I'm not liking my chances.