We did it! We had qualified for the national unaffiliated trailblazers championships at Stoneleigh Park, were we ready for it… probably not. I had a lot of doubts: we had only being doing prelim for just over a year together (This was back in 2012 when we did mostly walk and trot) and when we qualified we were in last place (coming 5th out of 5 with 6 going through). Despite this, it was a dream of mine so I repeated over and over again in my head ‘just enjoy it, you have every right to be here’
I repeated that mantra in my head up until the day we arrived. I started to believe it more and more and for the most part crippling fear turned into excitement. I also remember being so excited that I made a video of me brushing her and getting her ready.
I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the buzz of being at a stay away show. Horses stabled as far as the eye can see and hussle and bussle all around. A group of people hurrying and scuttling around a horse so that it would be ready to go into the arena and elsewhere someone else walking their horse back from the arena with a rosette in their hand and a smile on their face. Take all of that and add in the fact that everything you do all day is related to horses. Horsey holiday heaven! There really is nothing like it. Sure there are ups and downs but, when you are there in a championship environment it really does feel like you and your horse against the world.
For the actual riding part, I remember that Lily was strong. Lily is always strong. Just aiming to get a relaxed response from her was the goal of the warm up. The test was very energetic if I remember rightly but nothing went horrifically wrong! The most vivid thing I remember was bursting into tears at the end – a mix of relief and happiness I think! We didn’t get placed in the top ten (not that we expected to!) But we did get 11th on one of the days which was very exciting.
After that weekend, returning to the championships has been an annual occurrence for us. We have been placed in the top ten every year after that, culminating in getting reserve champion in the prelim combined training class in 2016. We achieved 2nd place on both days (which is quite incredible considering it took me a whole year to jump a course of 65cm jumps without feeling terrified but I think our 70% + scores dressage scores both days helped push us up the placings).
This stay away show and many others such as the Sheepgate under 25’s championships and British Dressage regionals are now regular events for us. I used to feel like because I was new to it that it was daunting and I didn’t deserve to be there but now I realise it doesn’t matter where you are, the goal is always the same; harmony and happiness between horse and rider. There’s no point not feeling good enough to be at a show, it’s all about learning, so live in the moment!
Lily at our first Trailblazers in 2012
Lily at the Trailblazers combined training championships 2016 where we achieved Reserve champion