A big step up

       Arena familiarisation for show jumping under lights at Albury


For many years I've looked up to riders like Shane Rose, Megan Jones and Stuart Tinney but this weekend I was in amongst them aboard their best horses - my equestrian and equine idols.

The 3* at Albury seemed like a big step up from the 3* at Wandin, but I am yet to determine if I only felt like this due to the large and fiercely competitive field. Knowing I was competing against a field filled with likely members of the Australian team at the Olympic Games in a few months was most certainly exciting, but also a little daunting. It was exciting as I could clearly look back to when I could only dream of competing at 3* level and see how far I had come, but daunting as I was a little concerned about being run over by their perfect half passes and expressive extended trots!

Despite this, I managed to survive the experience and Muso and I pulled out a super rideable dressage test. The showjumping under lights had the added element of a big atmosphere, but the kind and supportive Seumas Marwood lent me a pair of his 'sound proof' ear bonnets which helped to keep most of Muso's spooking at bay!



With a lot more nerves than usual (due to a lack of another few horses to ride!) Muso and I headed out to tackle the biggest and toughest cross-country track (by far) that we ever have. I couldn't possibly have been any more pleased with how we went. I kept our lines super tight and kept us just a little more forward than at Wandin and Muso jumped his socks off to come home the only double clear - coming in right on the optimum time.

La Muso and I still have a long road to make it onto the WEG and Olympic teams, but after competing against some of Australia's best for the first time, that goal appears more achievable than ever. With such an amazing feeling on such an amazing horse, every second of work in the pouring rain or blazing heat appears worth it.

After the long trip home I threw myself out of bed the next morning and coached at a pony club camp on Monday. While I was blatantly exhausted, I couldn't help but stop to wonder if one of the many young riders I had just coached would go on to become our next generation of elite riders and future Australian Eventing team members as I hope I will.