It’s Grace here. I am delighted to announce that I now have a blog with TheraPlate! This will now be the place I tell you about the happenings of my day to day life, the ups and downs that are horses and just a place to generally write down whatever comes to my mind.
We are currently on the buildup to my absolute favourite show of the year- the TheraPlate UK Liverpool International Horse Show! I have competed there the last couple of years and it really is the highlight of my equine calendar, the big finish to the chaotic shows throughout the year and a chance to celebrate the New Year in style.
I first competed there is 2016 on a horse I had only ridden a handful of times, with very little notice that I was competing there (a surprise Christmas present of which I was very much unaware!) and with the most horrendous flu you could imagine. Talk about being unprepared, the atmosphere really was overwhelming for a first timer like me at my very first international show. The bright lights, the amazing courses, and there is nothing quite like the atmosphere. It’s strange though because I thought the standard would be way out of my league and that the riders would be intimidating. But it was quite the opposite. Everyone was so welcoming and what I learned there really was invaluable to my riding and ring experience.
Mum and I always joke about it because I was so ill the first couple of days that I actually couldn’t hear the bell go so I had to keep checking the big screen to see if it had gone (come to think of it I’m quite lucky I wasn’t time faulted!). But it really did give me an incredible first experience there and that definitely drove me much more to go the following year on my own horses… which is exactly what happened.
Much like the first year, the atmosphere was incredible, but without the pressure of riding someone else’s horse. my competitive streak finally having the drive to come out, of course I wanted to win there- who wouldn’t?! And my horses very nearly made that dream come true with Claire coming 2nd twice in the Am-B classes. She heart-breakingly pipped at the post both times but what a ride she gave me both times. Lena actually had the winning time one day but in a real sack-the-jockey moment, mother got a little overly keen on the penultimate turn to result in a fence that we would have been victorious without (and Lena really did deserve the win that day given she had put up with my riding and answering every question I asked no matter how ambitious!).
Hindsight really is a wonderful thing, right? It’s just proved to me that a win there really isn’t out of reach and that maybe if I just work that little bit harder then I might just be able to achieve my ambitions there. I have the most wonderful string of horses and I really do owe it to them for allowing me the opportunities that I have been given. They really do have the hearts of a lion, and who knows? Maybe this year will be our year!
So that brings me back to the buildup. Of course, December time can be difficult to keep them fit, particularly when the cold weather pursues. Put it this way- fresh, fit competition horses and testing weather conditions are not always the greatest combination… and this has resulted in rather a few ground inspections, but one must keep in good spirits as I think I have begun to master the on-the-feet landing! And of course, they are all being fed like the princesses they know they are.
Each day they get carefully measured out feeds, the best haylage and strict fitness regimes… meanwhile, by the time I am finished caring for them I end up fetching a McDonald’s on the way home and shoveling down a day’s worth of calories in one sitting; a rather impressing talent I must say. But the struggle really is real being a rider at this time of year. I don’t know about you, but I really am a ‘foodie’ meaning that resisting the temptations that the Christmas period really can be difficult for me. I could quite easily devour a box of heroes in one sitting, meanwhile my horses are on the most balanced diet and I’m careful not to give them too many treats because it ‘might be bad for them’. The irony.
With the coming New Year, this gives you chance to reflect on the year that has passed and create yourself goals for the new one- resolutions if you will. I always challenge myself to a no-chocolate January. Seems a straight forward goal, but for me it is harder than you think. Of course, ‘get fit’ is a resolution that always makes the list, but I can never quite bring myself to fully commit to it. I really would love to be one of those gym fanatics, but with the scattered timings of the days where the horses are concerned and my general streak of laziness once at home, this resolution generally stretches to February at best. But maybe this year could be that ‘new year, new me’? Maybe one day I can be as fit and as well fed as my horses, but perhaps that too is wishful thinking. But jokes aside I do have some ambitions for next year with the horses, with the main being to finally get the opportunity to compete abroad. And of course, I always want better myself as a rider. As far as I feel I’ve come this year, I still want to push myself that little bit more to prove and finally do justice for how truly talented I know my horses are.
The plan for the meantime is to just keep moving forward. The horses are both looking and feeling fantastic and I can only hope that I do them justice at the end of the month. I’m determined to have them peaking at fitness, even if this does mean a few more unscheduled dismounts, sweat and grit. And even if it doesn’t go to plan- another lesson learned.
I hope you have enjoyed this blog and I’m looking forward to blabbing on again soon.