Update from Laura
We are already into the third month of 2016 and the nights are getting noticeably lighter which can only mean one thing the event season is nearly here! According to most event riders this calendar event is even more exciting than Christmas, and despite the recent snow flurries that a lot of counties have experienced, this weekend marks the official start of the season.
Molly is feeling fresh and raring to go after her short holiday - she had a week off over Christmas when I was lucky enough to go home to Scotland to spend some time with my family, and also have a bit of down time myself. I think it did both of us the world of good and we are now ready to crack on with our training. 2016 started with a bang - quite literally - as Molly decided to demonstrate how well she was feeling and deposited me on the floor before my bum was even in the saddle on New Years Day! She is quite the joker at times.
In mid January Molly headed off to her first party since October which was very exciting for her! We went to Hartpury for the JAS (Jumping and Style) which is something I have never done before - I was a little concerned about the fact we were going to be judged on style! It was a good pre-season tune-up and we managed to finish 7th in the Open class qualifying for the final. Two weeks later we attended the same competition at Wellington with a 10th placing. The final was held back at Hartpury at the end of February and it was a really testing track which made you think quickly! We finished out of the placings (I've always said style isn't my strong point!!) but it was great experience nonetheless. Last week we headed to an 'eventers combined training' competition for our first dressage outing on grass. Poor Molly was thrown in at the deep end as the Intermediate class was full so we ended up doing the Advanced, but I was pleased with a score of 39 in the dressage and just 1 down showjumping to finish 6th against a number of professionals.
Rewinding back to the end of last season, my last blog finished as I was heading to my final event of the year - the Intermediate at Pontispool. This was a step down after the 2 Advanced runs we had had at our previous events and it was very refreshing to see how easily Molly jumped round the track. We were both full of confidence and really enjoyed ourselves. Her showjumping was much improved as well after the game of skittles we had been playing over the Advanced courses! She really seems to have got back to her best with her jumping and I hope we can cement this a bit more over the remainder of the Winter season. We were a bit off the pace in the dressage at Pontispool so sadly out of the placings, but it was a great way to finish the season nonetheless.
At the end of October I caught up with Richard Waygood, who I train with, for a jumping lesson. He was really pleased with how Molly was jumping and he certainly pushed us out of our comfort zone! I left feeling really confident though and just hope that we can show what we're really capable of this coming season. We still have a lot of work to do on the dressage front; Molly gets very anxious when you start teaching her something new or something that she thinks is difficult (even if it's as simple as a trot – canter transition!) so I have to be very patient and tactful with her. I have spent a lot of Winter trying to establish our flying changes as they let us down badly last season. We are getting there but they are nowhere near good enough yet so I have plans to get some more sessions booked in with Richard to see if he can give me a few pointers.
Just before Christmas I moved Molly to a new yard and she has settled in really well. I am absolutely spoilt with fantastic facilities including an indoor school, but I am determined I won't become a fair-weather rider! I am based with another event rider so it is great to be able to share training tips and discuss event plans for the season. It's great to be all settled in ready for the new season starting. I have also booked in all the maintenance jobs before we really get into the thick of the competitions – Molly has had sessions with the dentist, osteopath and saddle fitter and my lorry has been to the garage for its service. Who said Winter was supposed to be the cheap time of year?!
My diary is filling up thick and fast and I really can't wait to get going again – and I don't think Molly can either! We have a cross-country schooling session with Nick Gauntlett this weekend and then next Thursday is D-Day – our first event of the season in the Intermediate at Tweseldown. Wish us luck and kick on everybody!!