Bury Farm always runs good shows with good prize money, so with this in mind I set off with Luendi, Espirito Santo and Doonaveeragh Emma, also accompanied by Bert (more of him later) and Aoife O'Connor, Jade Hooke and Catriona Redmond from Breen Equestrian and nine Breen horses. As the week unfolded it became clear that if I had forgotten about the prize money I might have had a better chance of actually taking some home!
I had made the effort to take the horses to Bury Farm the previous week so that the five year olds could jump a smaller class and have a look round, so I was a bit unnerved to find the Newcomers on the first morning to be very strong and only have one set of fillers that we had seen before! For Luendi it would be only her 3rd Newcomers and her first time starting at that height. However, we had a great schooling session on the Tuesday with Shane, and she jumped really well for one baby mistake when I got her a bit deep in the jump-off. I made the same mistake on Espirito Santo with the same result, so stood Emma off the same fence in the 1.20 so that she had it down as well!
On Friday Luendi jumped really well in the Newcomers until I decided I was at Cheltenham and went for a Desert Orchid type shot in the jump-off, luckily Luendi ignored me, but we did just tip a pole. Espirito Santo also jumped a good round. Emma jumped a superb clear in the first round of the Blue Chip B&C Qualifier which with 50 entries was a pretty strong class. Sadly we had one down in jump-off to finish 11th and one place out of the money. In this case I think Emma was a bit surprised to see such a big upright, but it did rather set the scene for the following two days when she jumped fabulous first round clears to be let down by me in the jump-offs. The answer is, as Malcolm Pyrah has told me many times, to concentrate on jumping a clear round, rather than racing about the place. I am rather a slow learner!
Espirito Santo has jumped really well at his last few shows, but felt very flat this week, so I didn't jump him again and let him start his well deserved holiday early. He seems to be growing again and in typical boy style this makes him rather skinny and tired. Luendi finished the week with a lovely double clear, and Emma jumped fabulously all week. Espirito Santo is now in the field, Emma will jump at Addington this week and then at the Keysoe CSI** before having about four weeks off. She doesn't get quite such a long holiday as the babies, partly because she struggles with her figure and partly because she gets so wild that it takes months to tame her again. Luendi helped herself to five months holiday in the summer, so she will spend the winter catching up. She feels better and stronger every time she jumps so I am really excited about the future with her.
Sadly when I came back from Auvers, Finn became more and more difficult to get on. He had always been slightly nervous to get on, especially if he had time off, and nine days off was obviously too big a break. I managed to get over the problem and was getting on him with a little bit of help every day, but at Arena UK the problem escalated so that even Shane had difficulty getting on him, and the joint decision was made that it was too difficult for me to be managing the problem by myself at home. This was a really difficult decision as he is jumping so well and is such a pleasure to ride, but my safety is really the most important thing.
Finn is now resident at Hickstead and the plan is to send him back to Ireland to hunt, and hopefully become more relaxed about life, and Shane has given me Bert to produce and sell. Five year old Bert was bred by Julian and Claire Mills to be a high goal polo pony, he is 7/8ths thoroughbred, 1/16th Australian Stock Horse and 1/16th Quarter Horse. At about 15.1 hh he is a really great little horse, and is learning about life so quickly. He is a fantastic jumper, has lovely paces and is about to have his third day's' hunting. He has jumped everything he has met boldly and cleanly and is terribly clever at scrambling up and down banks, over streams, etc. I am really looking forward to continuing his education until he finds a perfect little rider to take him on.