Having returned from Lummen Mark and I had a lovely week in Crete, a perfect opportunity to catch up with one another, recharge the batteries and take a break from real life. The weather was warm in the mornings and cloudy in the afternoons, which gave us the opportunity to do some exploring. Mark, very cleverly, doesn't have a photo driving licence, so I got the opportunity to do some real mountain goat driving, and not have anything to drink at lunchtime! Our hotel was almost opposite Spinalonga Island, the last leper colony, and prior to that a fortress town protecting the Bay of Elounda. Spinalonga was our last and most fascinating bit of exploring, although we also visited Knossos and the beautiful remains at Lato. The hotel forgot to tell us that everything in Crete is closed on a Monday, but undeterred we hopped over the security wall, and shared a peaceful tour of this town dating back to 750BC with the sheep and goats who are now its sole inhabitants.
Once we were home it was back to work for everybody, especially Luendi and Espirito Santo, who both had really benefitted from their break, and were really good to get back on. I felt very proud of how well they seemed to be going. Espirito Santo has been to three shows since, jumping his first Newcomers clear at Felbridge yesterday, Luendi jumped really well at Crofton Manor before banging her leg in the field and so has extended her holiday.
Emma jumped really well at Crofton, coming 2nd in the 1.30 which actually looked quite small compared to Lummen. I then had a good training session with Shane with both Emma and Espirito Santo before setting off to Windsor at the crack of dawn on Wednesday.
Windsor is a fabulous show, but logistically hard work, the classes start early, the lorries are a long way from the ring and it takes a long while to get in, but after all that you get to ride in one of the two most atmospheric rings in England, the other being the main ring at Hickstead. Emma jumped a great round in the Foxhunter to come 12th, so missing qualification for the Walwyn final, but she jumped in the B & C in the afternoon instead. Unfortunately she was unbelievably unsettled in the warm-up in the afternoon and I didn't manage to have her quiet enough before I jumped, with the result that it was a very disorganised round. Never mind, a little bit more learnt.
Shane said he thought I could do the 7 Year Olds on Thursday, so bearing in mind her regime in Hardelot and Lummen, I arrived very early, and rode her quietly around in her snaffle, watching the 1.50 and having her very chilled before giving her a good break before getting back on her for the class. This was our first 1.35, but it was a straightforward course, Michael Quirke and Darragh McCarthy worked me in while Shane directed operations, and I felt very well organised going into the ring. Emma jumped her little socks off: I just had her a tiny bit off the second double which she had going in, and she ballooned into the last double and had a pole coming out. I must keep my leg on properly round the corners to keep a better rhythm and keep her more settled.
It was a very exciting and emotional round for me. She is just a fabulous little horse and I am so lucky to have her, and have huge trust in her bravery and carefulness. I am also very lucky to have fantastic help and encouragement from the whole Breen Team. I have done the horses by myself for many years and sometimes it can be rather soul destroying, whereas having such good support makes a monumental difference, especially when trying to push out of my comfort zone to jump some bigger classes.
Clever Emma qualified for the Grade C at the South of England Show yesterday, so that is the next big date in the calendar.
Anna is doing a Triathlon at Blenheim Palace on the Sunday in aid of Alzheimers and Leukemia and Lymphoma, which I think is an incredibly daunting task to undertake, and certainly puts a bit of show jumping with Emma doing most of the work into perspective. I am very worried about the open water swim - I can't think the water in the lake at Blenheim is the most hygenic. However, Anna is training flat out and we will be cheering her on. If anybody feels kind enough to donate to either of these excellent causes, Anna's page for donations is: http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/AnnaLewis04.