The Perils Of Show Jumping Sport - 23
Well….where do I start?! Sometimes I wish that my blogs were a little less hectic and crazy because that would mean that my life has been the same. However of course it's us; it never is easy or straightforward but good grief! It's entertaining!!!
In the last two weekends we have done the Madrid Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) - a 5* show with shuttles, VIPs and our every move choreographed by a team of professionals. And then this weekend we did a two star show near Paris, where let’s just say rather than our arrival being a smooth choreographed affair, was more like a series of unfortunate events!!!
Firstly, however, Madrid. This is one of the oldest shows in Spain and was the scene of the European Championships previously; it is in the most amazing place at the Club de Campo with huge arenas with cross-country courses everywhere, a huge grass arena and oh….and ducks! Yes, that's right ducks, and to be completely accurate little ducklings too!
I was warming up in the practice arena when out of the corner of my eye I saw movement in one of the many natural water jumps situated around the arena. To my amazement it was a little family of ducks swimming merrily away without a care in the world. Then mummy duck and her ten little babies decided to waddle across the busy arena to explore pastures new, completely oblivious to the umpteen million steel hooves flying around which would quickly turn them into shredded duck without the pancakes!
What else was I to do? Much to the amusement of the various riders cantering around I had to stop them in their tracks as I herded "my" flock of ducks across the arena, mummy duck with no sense of urgency waddling sedately along! I only wish I had had my camera, and I bet you pet ducks will be on the birthday list of quite a few of the female riders in the next few months as there was a lot of oohing and aahing as to how cute they were!
Petting zoo aside the show itself was fantastic, the grass arena there is very intimidating and horses really do either grow or shrink as they go through the gate. I personally had a lot of pressure on my mare Cassita as she was convinced there were not only ducks, but a whole troop of goblins and ghouls awaiting her in the hedges around the sides!
Still, I had a super show with her and was really pleased to get two third placing s in the 2* classes - which made up for my other mare unfortunately hurting herself on landing on the first day leaving me down to just the one horse for the tour.
Sam had a good show without results….if that makes sense! His new horse Louis d'or Damons Z (Yes I really will have to change his name!!) had a rapid introduction to life with the WKD Team being thrown straight into the 5* classes, but every day he grew more and more confident and if it hadn’t been for one silly rail on the second day him and Sam would have ended up third. I am so excited for this new partnership; Louis is very sensitive, careful and like a cat on hot bricks in the air, and Sam rides him beautifully, very very quietly, giving him confidence to the fence. I think that, with a few more shows, these two are going to be a great new combination to watch.
Sumas Zorro was once again thrown in with the big boys, and it was the mother and father of all tracks which she faced! (One or two riders were heard to wonder aloud on the course walk. Who or what exactly had annoyed the course builder as he certainly was not going to make this a cakewalk!)
It was a bit of a murder picture with double scores being the norm as riders entered and left the arena, soon it was our little Zorro’s turn as her and Sam mightily cantered into the vast arena.
Their downfall was to the double of water trays at fence four - I don’t know what happened as Zorro might have one part of a combination down but never both. I think she was simply a bit too complacent to the first part, but then very expensively just tipped the second part too. This gave them a very cruel eight faults on the smallest two fences on the whole course! The rest of the huge oxers, vast water jump and triple combination, she popped with ease belying her small stature and showing the huge power and scope this compact mare has tucked away beside her massive heart. With only four clear rounds, and with an extremely quick time, for sure, with just the one fence, they would have got in the second round and with Luciana Diniz winning with the only double clear who knows what might have happened.....
However this is the sport and there have been many a times fate has been in our favour so no point complaining.
It was straight back Sunday night to Dublin for us on the late flight to prepare our horses and lorries who were leaving from the yard in Ireland Monday night to the next show in Paliseau in France. This is a 2* and 1* combined show run by the students of the polytechnic there with the military cadets in the equine school organising the show as part of their course.
As most international show jumpers, we have a lot of coordinating to do from show to show and as our schedules are so tight nowadays with shows seeming to run into each other, we have our horses divided into teams which leave the main yard at various times to head to mainland Europe. Our base in Ireland Sycamore Stables (www.sycamorestables.co.uk/) has lovely grassland and facilities for our breeding and production operation there and it is always hard to leave it behind, especially at the minute with our newest arrivals skipping around the fields behind their mothers. We are very proud of our breeding programme and now have two home breds out as 7 and 8 year-olds flying the WKD flag who are already showing a lot of potential and it will be hard to part with them but nice to see something we bred hopefully going on to future success with their new owners. Unfortunately selling is the downside of our business having to part with these beautiful animals, but it is lovely to follow their progress in their new homes; horses with our WKD prefix are slowly appearing all over the world, doing us proud!!
The horses left smoothly Monday night, but as for me and Sam’s trip over to the show, well let's just say we took every form of transport known to man, survived a mugging and took a lift from a random stranger in order to get there, a little different from the gilded experience of the global tour the week before...
To find out more catch my next blog coming soon!!!
1. Louis at the trot up
2. Me and Cassita's beautiful trophy
3. Our supporters in Madrid