On Tuesday, 20th August I packed up the lorry and Ferro, Emma and Biscuit and caught the ferry from Portsmouth to Caen for the CSI** at Auvers. Ferro for the Ladies' 1.30 classes, Biscuit for the Ladies' 1.20 classes and Emma for the 6 year old CSYH1*. Mark came with us in the car and we had a very easy trip over in a very comfortable cabin.
Normally it takes just over an hour to the showground in Auvers, but if you take in a lengthy tour of Caen on the way it takes a bit longer! However, the horses were settled into their stables by 10.00 and there is a lovely hack along a disused railway line at the back of the showground, so they were all exercised, trotted up and declared for their classes in good time.
My departure had been made a little more dramatic by the fact that Shane had a client for Ferro, the sale was agreed at 9.30 on Monday evening and she was vetted on Tuesday before we left, hopefully to be picked up in France, so even as I trotted her up I was not quite sure whether I would be riding her or not! Feeling a little uncertain I therefore decided to jump her in the 1.20 the first day, as I still didn't know whether the sale had gone through or not.
Wednesday started with Emma in the six year olds, a very full-on 1.25 which was the biggest she had jumped. Although she started a little green she jumped double clear to be equal first and win a little bit of money. Biscuit & Ferro jumped very well in the 1.20 for four faults each. On Thursday Emma jumped in the main ring over a very spooky 1.30. Unfortunately she shied going to the first fence resulting in an enormous miss, but we collected ourselves up for a couple of poles, and a lot learnt. Ferro jumped fabulously in the 1.30 with one down in the jump-off which was definitely my fault, and Biscuit felt rather tired in the 1.20 for two down. On Friday the 6 year old Grand Prix was enormous, and Emma felt very green having two fences early in the course, but finishing really well. Biscuit was placed in the 1.20, and Ferro had a fence in the jump-off. Week one over - our first overseas winnings won, and all the horses went really well.
One of the reasons for going to Auvers is that Polly, my sister, doesn't live far away. We had dinner with her and her friend Fi Thwaites on Wednesday and Friday nights, they came to watch on Saturday and then we spent the afternoon at her house near St Lo on Sunday once the horses had had a leisurely walk and graze.
Mark went back to England on Monday and the show started again on Tuesday. Once again Emma was first up and to my surprise had two fences behind. I had used a stronger bit in the first week and felt that maybe it was overdoing it now, so I changed her back to her nathe Pelham for the rest of the week. Ferro jumped really well in the 1.30 and Biscuit jumped well in the 1.20. On Wednesday Emma felt a bit green again in the main ring with yet another strange water jump, Ferro was jumped a fabulous double clear and was really unlucky not to be placed, while Biscuit was also unlucky to find a Labrador in the middle of the last double in her class which may have contributed to her one fence down. Friday started with the six year old Grand Prix which once again was enormous. Emma jumped a fabulous clear in the first round and then again in the jump-off to be 5th. I was so proud of her - what an amazing little mare to do so well in really strong company.
Unfortunately the six year olds ran late meaning that I missed jumping Ferro in the Ladies' Grand Prix, so she and Biscuit both jumped in the 1.20 final. They were both a little bit over-excited, but finished strongly and confidently. I had a lovely show, and felt that I was able to be competitive in fairly strong company.
One of the bonuses of overseas shows is always meeting new people and turning familiar faces into friends. I was very grateful for the help and moral support I had from Tom and Jo O'Dwyer, and from Roger and Christine McCrea, and also a delicious supper and loads of fun from Jacqui Ray from Oakingham Stud. I had great fun travelling home with Rosie & Jane Moss, www.rosiemossequine.co.uk, and enjoyed getting to know Anna Beck, www.westonwarmbloods.co.uk. I also received a brilliant pair of socks from Jenny Cassan who is importing American riding socks, www.soxtrotuk.com.
I was back at home by 9.00 on Friday, in time to break the washing machine and spend most of Saturday morning in the launderette in Uckfield. On to Hickstead this week and then either Barbizon CSI** near Paris or Bury Farm the following week.