This winter I have the added bonus of getting a new saddle. This is always an exciting time for me. It is long process and a lot to consider when choosing a new saddle. First of all I knew I wanted a jumping saddle as I was very happy with my current dressage saddle. Which is a beautiful devoucoux saddle I got a few years ago with my current advanced horse. With that established I had to take into account the tack I was an event rider and that contained two separate jumping phases. As I am currently very content with the saddle I go cross country in, a devoucoux chibert, a light versatile monoflap. Thus meaning I am in market for a new jumping saddle.
Although I am clearly a big fan of the devoucoux saddlery I was looking for a change with my jump saddle. From here I began looking a lot different brands and makes of saddles from the Antarés to the Cwd saddles. To be honest this only added to my confusion as I loved a lot of the saddles, I had to be practical and think about what I needed the saddle to do. It would have to fit several horses and be durable enough for everyday usage while remaining comfortable. I will not lie and say I found this an easy task because I can assure you it is not. I begun my search a month ago and I am nowhere near choosing a saddle!!
Upcoming excitement, this time in the for of the AIEC Student Rider Nations Cup, World Finals in the the Netherlands. The build up this years world finals has begun and team Ireland are very excited. I was delighted to selected along with Ian Cassells and Alyssa O Neill to represent Ireland and compete at the Finals in Holland.
Following our World University Equestrian Championships success of five silver medals, Team silver and individual silver in dressage for Ian and an individual overall silver for me we are feeling the pressure to come up trumps again. With only one change from our WUEC team of Tori, Ian and I we are up for the challenge, with Tori of touring the world we have another fantastic squad member Alyssa taking her place.
We have decided to make our trip a little longer by flying to Amsterdam two days in advance of the competition. We are arriving in on the 28th of December where we will be meeting up with some of the other nations competitors for two days of tours, activities, a beverage or two and ‘international bonding‘ … All in the true AIEC spirit!
On the 30th we get the train down to the legendary showgrounds of “het Zwarte Wate! Then it’s serious game on, with importance prizes from Gold medals to Baggers team Ireland will do there best as always to achieve as many as possible! 😉
Winter time is always the time where we get to sit back and assess the season gone by. I come from a sales yard so we often have a lot of clients at this time and the number of horses we have is lessening. All this considered we try to look forward to 2017 and to do that we need a team of horses so we get to go shopping, one of my favourite things to do. We usually purchase younger less experienced horses, though that said if we come across an older horse we love that does not mean he would not be of interest. Searching and travelling to find these can take quite sometime. In the recent few years finding the type of horse we look for has become much more difficult so we have began to travel throughout Europe, mainly Holland, Belgium, France, Sweden and the UK. This does not mean I do not purchase horses in Ireland anymore just that with the ease to travel we get to shop abroad too. So far this winter we have been lucky enough to find some special young horses. Three year old BSH Buckley was purchased in the U.K. He is a talented tall bay gelding with fantastic eventing breeding. Four year old KWPN Jay was purchased in Holland, he a beautiful brown gelding with a great temperament. We bought two at home in Ireland one from the renowned Goresbridge Horse Sales Donny who is a five year old ISH by peter pan who is a show stopped who also topped the sales he was in. Noble was the other horse we purchased privately he is a also a five year old ISH, a chestnut gelding who was breed by Marion Hughes who is one of Ireland’s top producers of sport horses.
This was all in one month so I am really excited to see how many more potential superstars I can add to the team before the 2017 season. With the added excitement of a new rider joining us, we are expanding and I am loving it!
Watch this space!!
As the season had come to an end in Ireland, I decided to ttravel to the world championships of young horses in Le lion d’angers. There were twelve horse and rider combinations sent to represent Ireland. We had three competing in the six year old section and nine in the seven year old section.
The competition began on Wednesday with the initial horse inspection after which the approved combinations were given a dressage time for either Thursday or Friday. I flew into Paris on Friday morning and met up with a friend who is studying in France for the year. Together we made our way up to le lion to see the second day of dressage.
This was my first visit to le lion d’angers so when we arrived I could not get over the beauty of the venue set right on the racecourse. The horses were stabled in beautiful permanent stables behind the woods. In the evening we dined with the Irish riders and spoke about the day, most seemed pleased with how the dressage had went.
Saturday morning we rose nice and early as not to miss a minute of the cross country. The six year olds were first to tackle the pierre michelet course, the man who also designed the cross country at the Rio Olympics. It rode very well with a high percentage of horses coming home clear inside the time. After lunch the seven year olds tacked the CCI** track which proved to be a different story, with many problems throughout the course. The time was also very influential on this track changing the leader board from the first two days.
Sunday morning the horses all the horses presented for the second horse inspection, all besides one Irish horse were passed. Our 2015 Bronze medallist SRS adventure unfortunately was unable to complete. The six year old showjumping proved a manageable track with a large number of clear rounds, meaning their was little change to the leader board. The seven year old track proved very different again with a number of rails failing, but none for ingrid klimke who lead the class from beginning to end. Unfortunately no medals for the Irish riders but Irish horse Cooley showtime and Jonelle Price for New Zealand. That said the Irish proved again their strength in breeding event horses winning the studbook price!
Over all despite the cold in France it was a great trip to Le Lion a and defiantly an aim for the 2017 season to compete there.
Sunday just gone was the final national one day event on the calendar for this season, which saw us up at the crack of dawn and on the road to Kilguilkey House in the bottom of cork. Being based in Kilkenny this meant it was a bit of a trek but for the final event it was worth it. Danny and Michelle always provide a fantastic welcome as well as very well designed cross country course. We arrived at about eight thirty a.m. from there we began to get set up. It wasn’t going to be too manic of a day as I only had two horses competing. I had Neat Matakana in the novice section and Hunters Firefly in the pre novice section. There was a mist over the venue so you couldn’t see twenty yards in front of you, I won’t lie I was sort of thinking it might be a help for the dressage. Sometimes not been seen so well might not be a bad thing! Despite that Maddie actually went on to do her personal best test at this level to lie second after dressage. Caliber also did a very sweet test to lie in the top six which I was very pleased with as it was only his second event.
By the time jumping had come around the mist had lifted and it was a beautiful sunny day reaching about 15 degrees and not a shower in sight. Typical Ireland we had better weather to compete in October than we did midsummer! Maddie flew around the twisty showjumping clear after this I decided to walk the cross country with Dad as usually. Danny had put up a fair but yet questioning track, there were challenging straight or safe long options giving those who had moved up horses a chance to give them a nice educational spin. Along with this the going was an absolute credit to him, some of the best ground we have had to compete on all year.
Caliber show jumped very well but was unlucky to clip the last fence. We had a little break then before cross country so took the opportunity to lunch with the owners and watch some of the intermediates go. I tacked Maddie nice and early hoping to slip out at the beginning which luckily worked in my favour. She was fantastic, defiantly my most confident round on her coming home with twenty five seconds to spare! Leaving her to compete the day for second place in a hotly contested novice section. After a quick turn around at the truck I was up on Caliber and go to go. He jumped was clear inside the time but showed his greenness in places although with a bit of schooling over the winter months I don’t see why he wouldn’t come out straight 1* next season.
Once I had the horses all bandaged and loaded up, I went over to collect my dressage sheets and prizes!! I got to catch up with some of my friends as well which is always nice, event riders are usually so busy we don’t see each other from one competition to the next. All in all it was a great day for the team and a good note to end the season on, we are now sourcing some horses for the 2017 season. My next adventure will be Le Lion D’angers young horse world championships to support my mates!
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