The latest guest blog is from Amy Dixon who was the 2010 BE90 Championship winner.
Hello and welcome to my Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Grassroots blog. My name is Amy Dixon and I have qualified my nine year old grey mare Tuesday Cruising (Ruby) for the BE90 Championship.
I would firstly like to wish last years Grassroots blogger, Lucinda Cawood, all the best for the 2014 season and her bid to compete in a CCI1*, good luck.!
Some of you may or may not know but I won the BE90 Championship in 2010 on board Maid In Holland (Toga). Badminton is a magical place for everyone who is lucky enough to qualify to compete there. It really is like no other but to win was a dream come true. Shortly after winning, Toga stepped down from Eventing following veterinary advice because she had strained the collateral ligaments in her feet.
The advice was to stop jumping her and stick to the dressage; luckily this is what she was bred for being by Kennedy and has made the switch very easily! She competed at the BD summer and winter Championships at Prelim and Novice and is now heading to the BD Winter Championship this coming weekend at Elementary Restricted. The last few months have been full on, with Ruby’s prep for the Grassroots Championships and Togas for Hartpury.
A new prospect
I found Ruby in May 2011 because I really didn’t want to miss out on Eventing any more! I have learnt to enjoy dressage more and more in the last two years but nothing beats the thrill of going cross country. Ruby came to me with a few trust issues, I was her sixth home in three years. It was always in the back of my mind that I would love the opportunity to go back to Badminton with another horse; Ruby has made this come true. In 2010 it all went so fast and was a total whirlwind so it will be lovely to go back, knowing what to expect and really enjoy my time there.
Qualifying for 2014
Ruby qualified at Sapey last August which seems like an age ago now. This was our last event of the season as she had qualified to compete at HOYS in the Search for a Star Riding Club Show Horse class. After qualifying I wanted to wrap her in cotton wool and get some weight on her ready for the show ring. Competing at HOYS was another amazing experience for an amateur rider and to top it off, we won our class. This is a series I would recommend anyone to have a go at, the judges are very helpful and the atmosphere at HOYS is fabulous. Ruby then had some time off after HOYS while I moved yard to somewhere with an indoor school.
Working towards my goal
I work full time managing the Bluebird Café in Bowness and Coniston, in the Lake District, so time in the winter is limited and the indoor school has been a God send. I have weekly dressage lessons throughout the winter with Melanie Turner. Keeping both horses in full work is a juggling act so I ride and lead most days to save time (see picture).
The yard I am on is owned by my show jump instructor Judith Buckley so I have weekly jumping lessons with her. Ruby can be pretty sharp and spooky especially when the weather is cold. After Christmas Judith said to have a little jump on my own and work to keep a steady canter rhythm in and out of the fence and turning lots of 10m circles to re-balance between. She said to do that a few times over little fences just to get my eye back in after not jumping for months. So, I set off into the outdoor arena all excited about the coming season, only to very quickly be grounded by my darling Ruby ………… three trotting poles and down I went, so since then we have been concentrating on our jumping!
We headed to Somerford Park in mid-February for a lesson with Andy Heffernan on their all-weather cross country facility. Ruby loves this phase and this course was a great way to gauge how she was progressing because there are plenty of angle and accuracy questions.
So the season starts
Our 2014 Eventing season started with a pretty long trip south to Aston Le Walls! I traveled down with a good friend and fellow Badminton Grassroots competitor, Thomasina Boddy and her horse Rufus. It felt good to be back on the road heading to an Event, although it unfortunately didn’t go exactly to plan. The dressage was ok, she was a little tense and spooky which is to be expected for Ruby at this early stage but she received a fair mark of 33. I was very pleased with how she show jumped she then had an unfortunate rub on the planks for four faults.
We then had to make the difficult decision to withdraw as I felt the ground was too holding for her and that it wasn’t worth risking all our winter’s hard work at this early stage. A quick decision to pop into Somerford Park on the way home to have a jump round their xc proved a good one. The ground there is amazing and both horses loved being out again. Ruby really feels like she has grown up and knows her job now, she looks for the flags and is so enjoyable to ride. We were meant to be at Eden Valley last weekend but unfortunately they fell foul to the weather. So I’m keeping fingers crossed to get a run at Kelshall.
In the meantime, I’ve got to get my serious dressage head on, for Toga’s trip to Hartpury College this weekend. Get the crystals out, flick them toes and ………………….. remember the test…
Until next time, good luck to everyone!