Millstreet International Horse Show’s August fixture is the high light of every show jumper’s year. I’m normally working during it so the fact that I got to take a few days off this year and go was dream come true. Getting to take Miss G was the added bonus!
I have been working extremely hard over the last few months to get back to riding fitness and working on our confidence in jumping a meter again, so I felt it was a great goal to aim towards.
The show runs for a week, this year from August 13th to 19th. The packing begun on Monday and the gang from the yard traveled with the horses on Tuesday.
I had to wait until Wednesday, however, to make the long journey down as I was working. Only a 4 and a half hour drive from where I work!!
I arrived down around 6pm and headed straight to the stables to meet up with my friend Hana, who was very kindly looking after Giselle and her own horse Lojza, until I got down.
We were located in large shed, filled with temporary stables. There were horses of all shapes and sizes, but down at the back I could see the quiet ears of Miss G looking out at me. I couldn’t wait to hop up and stretch her legs.
So I got my jodhs and boots and hopped in the horse lorry to change my clothes. So this is where the start to my experience went a bit off track!
Mid way through pulling my ariats up, with my backside to the door, I heard the handle turning. I wasn’t too worried, it was just Hana – or so I thought. The door swung open and there was an older gentleman, just as shocked as I was, standing there. “Oh Sorry!” he shouted and slammed the door shut.
Too late. He got an eye full!!! Oh well. We think he wanted to have a snoop at Hana’s 2 horse lorry… that’s what we keep telling ourselves anyway!
I got G tacked up, stuck my foot in the stirrup and attempted to jump up, but with my freshly washed jean jodhs bet onto me, I couldn’t move. The second attempted went a little better, but this time G walked off and as my leg stretched away from me a loud RIIIIP confirmed I had left the ariats in the dryer too long, and I now had a significant, and unwanted, air vent from my thigh to, well, you can imagine.
After a traumatic start, the rest of the week went a little more smoothly. I had entered Giselle in the 6 year old and over 1M class for both Thursday and Saturday. Our first class was 8am on Thursday morning. Giselle felt great and was clearly loving the atmosphere. Our only aim that day was to go around confidently. We jumped a double clear and I was delighted. Mission accomplished.
When the class finished and I looked at the final results, we had finished 20th, out of 140 entries, and had missed out on qualifying for Sunday’s final by 4 spots. I decided next time I would give it a fair go and take the hand brake off Miss G.
We had no class on Friday, so that evening I took her out for a school. Our trainer had us practicing a figure of eight over a single vertical, coming in on a smaller circle every time. Giselle loved this, and very quickly picked up that we were practicing for a jump off. She genuinely was soaking up the atmosphere and loving every minute of it.
Saturday morning came, and again, Giselle warmed up lovely. She was forward and responsive, ears pricked, and I felt very confident that we would have a good chance of going clear. I preferred this course as well as there were more opportunities for turn backs, which Giselle loves.
The aim was still to go around with confidence, and keep a good rhythm, but this time I upped the pace and let her go a little bit more. I missed a stride or two, but Giselle being Giselle, got me out of bother – as you’ll see from the video below!
We kept an eye on the results until the end of the class and I can’t tell you how proud I was of Miss G when the final result came in that we had finished in 10th place, confirming our place in Sunday’s final! It meant a lot, considering 9 months ago I never thought we jump a meter course again.
Sunday morning and the alarm went off at 6am. After 4 days of early starts, late nights, and little sleep, I really wasn’t feeling the best. I drove down to the stables, fed and watered G and Lojza and started to get ready for the final.
Our class was due to start at 10:30. Being the final, with only 32 entries, I thought things would run quickly and smoothly. By 10am I had G tacked and hacked up to the main arena, waiting for our class to start. Only, the previous class started an hour late, and they were hanging on for the final riders to appear.
The morning dragged on and I could feel the enthusiasm leave me and Giselle, too. When I had pulled her out to tack her up earlier she had turned around and walked back into her stable. I think she was trying to tell me 3 days of jumping was just too much!
When we did eventually get to jump my head was just not in it. We knocked fence two, and the sound of the pole drop threw me off, so I missed my turn to 3, which caused G to hit the front bar. 4 to 8 went well, once we got into a rhythm. Despite finishing on 8 faults, I felt that Giselle really jumped her heart out, and I loved every minute of it.
Being there was the goal, and having that feeling that your horse is absolutely loving her job was the prize. No rosettes or prize money could compare to that.
We are taking a well earned break this weekend, but we have one more show before we take a September break. We’re off to Cavan on the 31st, just 2 days this time. We’ll be taking what we learned in Millstreet with us!!
Hope you enjoy the few pics below 🙂