I’m currently writing this blog on the way home from an incredible week away in New York, and its given me time to reflect on the ups and downs of my season with Sprout; and how although we haven't been out as much as I would have liked, we've achieved something pretty special. I could talk about completing out first two British Events at Bicton and Launceston, and how incredibly proud I was coming 10th at Bicton, or how much I adore that pony, but instead I've chosen to focus on the negatives of our season, and how despite feeling like utter crap at the time, something good came out of each occasion.
Our season started at The Mare and Foal Sanctuary, for the unaffiliated showjumping. Considering this was Sprout and my first competition in 6 months, we decided to do the 80cm and 90cm. Having previously completed 1.10cm courses, Sprout and I swaggered in feeling bold as brass, ready to impress our new pony club. This feeling was quickly replaced by embarrassment when we had a pole in each class, didn't get placed, and realised that its never about what height you compete at, if you're lacking the technique.
One month, and a few lessons later, we hit The Grange, for our first arena event in a year…needless to say I was bricking it, but once again, we struck a power pose and received lots of compliments in our warmup to go in feeling very confident…until the judge rang the bell and sprout swiftly exited the arena, although we scored a very fair 68%, putting us in 3rd. This was followed by a very trying jumping round on the tail end of a hurricane with a stop and a pole which I couldn't fault, followed by both of us tripping head over heels in the car park and parting company with a very loud bang…another shining moment! However we leant that some things, like the weather are not out of our control, and that the Devon hunters are far more accustomed to it than sensitive, city life, part bred Arabs!
After attempting a full one day event, getting a 28 dressage, missing a showjump and waiting 3 hours for my xc round to start after a casualty, we admitted defeat and I had a significant crisis of confidence. Was I good enough? Would I ever get my moment?
We worked our butts off over the next few months at a variety of arenas with various results, including coming 5th in the Bicton 105, and all the hard work came into play at our first British Event, where despite a significant lack of organisation including learning the test in the warmup and forgetting to get my hat tagged, still resulted in a very respectable 10th place. Nothing can replace that feeling of coming over the finish and hearing “That’s Romy Fryer and Oaklyvaile Golden Boy clear, inside the time and finishing in the money”. I had a little cry I wont lie.
This was followed by a 5th place at Pontispool 100 after a 32 double clear, and I remember thinking “this is our season, this is the time that Sprout and I finally shine” just before it all started to decline.
The next weekend was Launceston and the run up was shaky, due to some confusion with the organisers as to what class I was entering, but we earned a solid 30 dressage, clear showjumping, however Sprout misjudged a fence in the cross country (Mother always knows best) to get a rather dramatic 20 penalties. I remember thinking “this is going to bite me in the ass one day” despite the “oh it doesn't matter, these things happen” attitude.
Finally we had the highlight event of the year, pony club areas! This was at Launceston again, but running at 100 not 90. Sprout and I turned in a lovely test for a 30, followed by an unlucky pole showjumping in some of the worst conditions I've ever faced. My cross country round started with a bang (Literally…it was thunder and lightening) and by the first fence the rain was horizontal. By the time Sprout had slipped for the 3rd time, and crashed through a fence, I decided to save the welfare of my horse and retire gracefully. This was met with some confusion as “everybody else had completed” but I knew in my heart that it was the right thing to do, and my mum agreed. Despite my withdrawal, the team ended up winning and qualifying for champs, to my delight, until my case went to the ground jury and they voted against me qualifying due to my refusal in the 90 the previous weekend! A serious facepalm moment, but despite some people saying I should have ridden slower and gotten penalties rather than being dramatic, Sprout was safe in my garden with just a few nicks and cuts from the round, so I was happy.
I guess this is just an incredibly long winded way of saying that everything happens for a reason…Sprout had some time off after this and were both just gearing back up now with more determination than ever. I got told at school to sell my ponies before even considering university, and came home ready to win gold at 2020 (after I’d stopped crying at my poor, bewildered Mum who had no idea what was going on). What I'm trying to say is that no matter how bad a situation may seem and how badly you feel you've done, there will always, ALWAYS, be something good to come out of it!
Stay tuned for next month, where I’ll be attempting to make a christmas pudding with two very badly behaved dartmoor foals…
Love Romy and Sprout xx