I purchased Captain sixteen months ago, a 9 year old black gelding whose owners were selling him as they didn't think he would make a three star horse and he wasn't particularly strong in the dressage phase.
When I tried him, I knew he was the one for me due to his temperament and his jumping ability. Captain is a grandson of Clover Hill who has produced some very talented show jumpers. We immediately clicked and I felt very happy and confident to jump him over the cross-country schooling fences that were out in the fields at the time of trying him. A little girl of about four (a relation of his owner) was holding him when we un-tacked him and I was just so impressed as to how gentle he was with her as she washed him down - something inside me knew he would be a great horse to own.
I was right, he is such a lovely horse and is so easy to do; I even take him to events by myself.
It was a slow start and although Captain's jumping went well and we moved quickly up from BE90 to Novice eventing, our dressage was much weaker with scores ranging from 38 to 45! We were definitely on a learning curve together. I didn't even know what leg yielding was when I did my first Novice in June 2011 where our diagonal line only scored 4 and we came in last after our dressage performance!
I didn't mind as it was all about the jumping and we went on to go clear in our first Novice XC‚Äö√Ñ√π
Captain has potential
‚Äö√Ñ√∫After only fourteen months Captain proved he has real potential and we even won a British Dressage Novice test with 67% and got a mention in Horse and Hound.
After double clear in our first Novice event of the 2012 season at Poplar Park we achieved our best result to date of 6th place.
Just two weeks later we attended Great Witchingham Novice Horse Trials where after a lovely accurate test we scored 27 after the dressage which placed us 3rd, one mark higher than the leader Piggy French. I was thrilled. Things just seemed to get better, with pole SJ and after a brilliant fast clear cross country I thought I had won ‚Äö√Ñ¬∂ a big grin across my face, Captain and I had finally done it!
Fifteen seconds later elation turned to tears. I was informed that I had missed a fence, I couldn't believe it.
How could I have missed a fence, but I had, I was so cross with myself‚Äö√Ñ¬∂ I had let Captain down.
I felt a little better after being reminded that even the great Mark Todd missed a fence at Barbury and William Fox Pitt jumped the wrong fence (at Houghton)!! Just shows it is not just the inexperienced riders that can miss a fence out!
We have both moved on since that incident and are now benefiting from having lots of dressage training with Amanda Gover (Manager at Hixham Hall the yard Captain is based at) and John Bowen (a well renown jump trainer) We still have our up's and downs, but that's all part of being a horse owner.
I now can not remember what my life was like prior to Captain coming in to my world.
I still work in London and juggle my week around training, riding early mornings and late evenings and organizing my weekends around lessons and eventing competitions.
I have met so many new friends through eventing and enjoy every part of it. It will be a very long time before riding is out of my life again, hopefully never as I truly LOVE it.
I have learnt that it doesn't matter if you make silly mistakes or when events don't go to plan, as long as you have fun and enjoy. My return to riding was one of the best decisions I have made and yes I have had to give up many of the material things in life but riding brings something in to my life that nothing else can.
Continue to follow my progress with Captain over the coming weeks‚Äö√Ñ¬∂