I can’t believe it has been over a month since the Horse of the Year Show – time has flown by. I still feel so honoured that I get to be an ambassador for such an incredible horse show, which is made even more special by the people who contribute so many long hours to make it happen. I miss the buzz of the arena, I miss the entertainment of Gilles Fortier and the Musical Drive of the Heavy Horses, and I miss the tension as each class came down to a nail biting final – TV just doesn’t match up. Really I was too spoilt for choice, between show jumping, dressage, showing, Pony Club Mounted Games and scurry driving – to name just a few events – everything else in ‘normal’ day to day life doesn’t compare.
So far I’ve had a very busy November; I have been working close to where I live and getting back into a proper schedule. Also, after HOYS, my sister and I thought that seeing as it was the 25th anniversary of British Equestrian Vaulting we would throw together a routine and perform it at our British Championships. We decided to use some of the warrior music we performed to at HOYS in 2015 which brought memories flooding back. With a week to go we finally got round to having a barrel practise – we always get carried away and end up, after a good couple of hours, having to rein our ideas in and get practical about what is actually achievable in the time scale.
Having been coaching a lot through the summer, it hasn’t left me much time to jump on myself so two minutes of harmony with the horse, constant transitions, lifting and tension, was definitely a shock to my ‘out of practise’ body. I have been trying to maintain my fitness in a number of ways, I enjoy running and going to the gym and I also still do a lot of the body fitness program that I did when I was actively competing. However, going through the new routine was definitely a shock to the system. Needless to say, the day after our first training on Henry together after a year, I couldn’t move.
I also got a little bit of a shock when I went up to stand on my sister’s shoulder and I suddenly got struck by how high up I was. This is something I have never even thought about before – it has always been second nature. After running through the routine a few times I got back into the swing of things and I forgot the unmatchable adrenaline rush I get from vaulting and how much I love performing new routines to music. It is just the best feeling! It was great to get to compete together again with my sister, dad and Henry and we were extremely happy to retain our British Pairs title for the 14th consecutive year. We are all off doing things in our respective fields and we haven’t had much time to train together. Spending the time working on the routine – just like we did for so many years – was just as special as winning the title. Every barrel session, horse practise and competitive round I fully embraced as I am not sure that we will get the opportunity again.
There is usually a misconception that vaulting horses just need to be placid and trustworthy. That isn’t the case. Our horse score makes up 25% of the total mark. Therefore it is really important that our horses have a good canter and carriage, we are constantly working on trying to improve this. I have always really loved lungeing, it has been a part of vaulting I have always tried to be involved with, and I am excited to concentrate more on it in the future.
I really enjoy the winter season, especially as a coach, as it is great to see vaulters grow in confidence as they try out new moves and new routines. Even though things are very busy right now I am still trying to do private sessions on top of club trainings. However, in the past few weeks it has been difficult to fit everything in.
In other news…….
My sister recently got engaged and she just asked me to be her maid of honour. We will always have a unique relationship with the most incredible memories because of vaulting. I can’t wait to help her and Fraser plan their big day. I was actually able to buy them the perfect engagement gift at HOYS. I got them a wooden box with a bride and groom on the front with their names carved into it, to keep their plans in. They loved it and I love that about HOYS; you can find unique gifts for a number of occasions.
I really excited for the upcoming FEI World Cup series as I am getting to report on the vaulting. After writing my first report on the FEI Vaulting World Championships this summer I was really hoping to get the opportunity to cover the winter World Cup and now that the series is about to commence I feel a real mix of excitement and apprehension at having this opportunity.
I competed at every major World and European Championship since 2003 with vaulting until my last championship as a vaulter in 2015. I only got to compete in one World Cup – due to university and the logistics of travelling to events throughout the winter as well as the summer. However, in 2012 my sister and I made a commitment to the World Cup and it will go down as one of my top vaulting moments. The great thing about the World Cup in vaulting is that it is made up of two rounds of freestyle – our most exciting round where you are free to interpret your time on the horse however you want. After travelling to the qualifiers my sister and I made it to the final. I wasn’t really expecting too much from the event – pairs was always my main category – but my sister came first and I came second. It will always be one of my greatest achievements to date.
Without vaulting and horses I would never have travelled to so many fascinating places, from Qatar to Kentucky with my horse Henry to being able to coach in Australia or vaulting in South Africa – these are just a few unforgettable moments. Without my horses and this sport I would never have been chosen as an ambassador for the Horse of the Year Show. You don’t always think about what your passion can lead onto, at the time all you think about is your love for training, your love for your horse and striving to make yourself better. These have just been some of the unbelievable results that my vaulting career have lead me to so far. I am really looking forward to continuing my role as an ambassador for the Horse of the Year Show throughout the year, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.