The Story So Far; veterinary surgeon Nikki Holehouse shares her preparations for this year’s Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championships so far.
So, finally here we are, one month to go until the Grassroots Championships at Badminton! I bought Monty at the end of 2010 as a hunter but somehow ended up trying my hand at Eventing for the first time. I quickly made the Grassroots Championships my aim and it has been a long, tough road with many disappointments on the way. Another long winter of rain, rain and more rain and now I’m finally counting down the days until we get to gallop round the hallowed turf at Badminton and have to keep poking myself to remind me it’s really happening.
We have had a good winter of training. Monty (or the ‘orange horse’ as he is most commonly known as by his many Twitter followers) hasn’t had a winter holiday as he missed most of the 2013 Eventing season due to injury so we have had plenty of time to concentrate on improving our technique. We started training with Chris Burton in January and he instantly made a huge difference to Monty’s way of going.
We competed in the Baileys Jumping and Style (JAS) competitions, gaining double clears in the BE90 and BE100 level classes in January and following that up with a creditable attempt at the Novice in February. Our confidence has come on leaps and bounds and I can’t believe what we’re jumping in lessons now having been scared to progress out of BE90 for years.
The dressage has previously been our weak point but after injury kept us away from jumping for much of the last couple of years, I have persuaded Monty that doing giraffe impressions is not quite what the judges are looking for and he has knuckled down to become quite the little dressage horse. We have been training with List 2 dressage judge and Advanced rider, Sara-Jane Lanning and she has taken our dressage up a notch. This was proved at the British Dressage Winter Regionals when Monty stood Prelim Champion on a score of 72.24% and was also placed in the Novice and Novice Freestyle. Next weekend we are off to the Winter Championships to contest the Prelim Championships as well as the Novice Petplan Area Festival Finals.
I had planned to start the 2014 season with a nice easy run round the BE90 at Aston but the weather had other ideas which meant I found myself headed straight for the BE100 at Munstead. I was rather nervous about the step up but all our training paid off with a 27 dressage, one unlucky pole and a storming, confident clear cross country resulting in 3rd place. We followed that up with another top ten placing at Portman 100 this week, enjoying a fantastic confident cross country round our toughest course to date. We are now really looking forwards to our final run before Badminton at Hambleden in the BE100.
My work (a small animal veterinary hospital in Farnham, Surrey) have been very supportive of me taking time off for training and competitions and the clients are all behind me going to the finals and some are even coming along to support.
I will be posting regular updates on my Twitter account (@NHeventing) in the lead up to the Championships so follow me for the final countdown for me and Monty in the run up to the biggest competition of my life!