The Perils Of Show Jumping Sport - 25

Well I must confess I’ve been a bit behind lately with my blogs, but in my defence we’ve been a bit busy; and of course when the WKD show jumping team says they’ve been "a bit" busy you know that means it's been crazy, crazy mad !!!

So I could just skip straight to the juicy good bit and tell you how we managed to travel across time zones and continent s and how we are now safely ensconced in Canada for the spruce meadows tour..

But that would be a grave injustice in terms of journalistic integrity by missing out the shows we did from my last blog. Besides, Sam had two wins before we left, so never missing an opportunity to celebrate the successes, here is what we’ve been up to since I last left you all train/plane and bus hopping from France way back in the month of May....!!!

We arrived back in Ireland fresh from a great spin for the horses in Palasieu CSI 2* in france ( transport technicalities aside.) in order to compete at home, which for us is a lovely change, in one of Ireland's oldest international shows , the balmoral international show.

At this point I should be able to tell you how old exactly this huge agricultural fair is, as I heard it on the local radio news everyday on the way in to the show, and I made Sam memorize it so he could impress all the journalists he had interviews with, saying as Egyptian riders in Ireland are not exactly an everyday occurrence so he was pretty hot property, giving TV and radio interview s daily...
(It's a wonder he still found time to mingle with us mere mortals at all..!), but I have a memory like a goldfish so suffice to say it's a very old show indeed!

Being an agricultural show there are all things associated with the countryside; farm animals, tractors, farmers, children and the list goes on and on..
In effect if you can grow it, drive it, eat it or use it, it has a place at the balmoral show. As you can imagine our horses shared the Ulster people’s appreciation of all things country. Or not as the case may be!!

Sam and I had four horses there, Sumas zorro, WKD diva and limelight de breve for him, and my Palasieu winner Vera ( I don’t get to say that very often so allow me my ego this one time..!) and you would have thought by the reaction of our horses to the scenes surrounding them that we had transported them to another realm ,with horse eating monsters hiding around every corner.

For us riders it was definitely a challenging few days as we cajoled our horses around the practice arena, or as in my case one day, held on tightly to panic stricken Vera who was surrounded by an assortment of donkeys pulling various colourful contraptions, whose sole purpose she was convinced was to end her life as she knew it.

The courses were tough and big, but the ground was beautiful and our horses loved the grass. Vera and I got a twelfth place the first day in the two phases. But for us the main focus of the week was the Grand Prix, and as our sponsors were supporting the class through their soft drink company, bottle green, there was a lot of hope lying on Sam and zorro as they started in the first round of the class, which was proving to be a very difficult course with no clears when they entered the arena..

But the pair of them flew the fences making it look easy, with their clear round soon joined by a few more guaranteeing there would be a jump off for the £24000 prize money and the beautiful balmoral cup.

In the second round everyone was struggling to post a double clear, with the time allowed being especially difficult. Sam was last to go and the leader at this point had two time faults.

Sam knew that he only had to jump a clear round with the maximum of one time fault to take the win, the same position he had been in with zorro the week before in Palasieu when he was unlucky and hit a fence to send him down the placings...

He knew he had all to play for, but as the four faults were very fast he also knew that he couldn't be too slow as if he had a fence it would send him plummeting down the prize line as had happened the week before.

Jaw set Sam approached the first fence, clearing it and proceeding to jump a perfect, copy book round - the win was his and the team went crazy!! (Jack and I jumped up and down like crazy lunatics, nothing new there then..!)

It was fantastic to win on home ground, so to speak, and a really nice boost for us heading away to Spruce meadows.
However, there was no time for victory celebrations; it was straight home for us, a change of Lorries and horses as we headed down to another local show at Cavan equestrian centre where we had the not so glamorous job of getting the young horses out and pulled around some tracks for the first time.

This is the part of our sport which people don’t see, the grass roots so to speak, which is essential for a team like us to survive, as we must always think of the next horse for the future, which is too expensive to buy, so we must "make" the money ourselves. But luckily thanks to our quite successful breeding program at sycamore stables, we now have some fabulous home breds coming through, and the future is looking very rosy indeed!

We finished off Cavan with a trip the next week to another national show at the seaside town of portrush, where sea horses and show jumping horses meet, as the jumping takes place right beside the beaches of the beautiful Antrim coast.

It was here that Sam defended his win of last year’s Grand Prix on WKD Cairo, with another victory lap, this time riding WKD diva to first place ribbons, a great finish to an enjoyable few weeks at home.

But now things were to ratchet up to another level, playtime was over and it was down to the serious business of getting seven horses, two grooms, two riders, three children, a nanny and of course, Sally the dog to Calgary in one piece in time for six weeks of big jumping courses on some of the finest grass arenas in The world.

Were we ready? Heck no...
But sure are we ever!
Of course we will work it out when we got there, WKD style!!

To hear about how we got on and how we got there keep following my blogs on HORSE TIMES Magazine and on our sycamore stables Facebook page.

Until the next time best of luck and safe jumping!!



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