Together with her steed Persian Royalty, Helen White from West Yorkshire shares with us her journey to get to the 2016 Mitsubishi Motors Cup!
As we burst into 2016 with what looks like a resounding success for Nina Barbour and her team with the brand new Liverpool International Horse Show and then follow it up with the very sad demise of a style icon in David Bowie 2016 has already made its mark.
At home in Briestfield, West Yorkshire living as I do in the shadow of last year’s Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots BE100 winner Alex Farrar-Fry (literally as we are only over the road from Alex’s yard) I am staring fixedly at the weeks to go to the inaugural Mitsubishi Motors Cup, Badminton 2016.
Neither Frost (Persian Royalty) or I are first timers in this competition at Badminton as we competed in the BE90 section in 2013 (9th) and then crashed and burned in the show jumping phase last year at BE 100 level. Having already experienced the tremendous camaraderie and determined buzz of being AT BADMINTON my desire to compete and appreciation of the sheer joy of it all is so much greater.
Qualification was tough; a rather encompassing career as Sales and Marketing Director for a leading Interior Design supplier and the juggling that requires between office in Yorkshire, yard at home, sites in London and overseas and three horses at home pose a real diminishing hours conundrum. Fortunately I have help in all areas but it is difficult to delegate site meetings at our titled and celebrity clients and of course I do need to ride a horse.
We qualified at Skipton (2) the first Mitsubishi Motors Regional Final to be held and I had purposefully entered Skipton (1) in June, as a warm up and we won a BE100 section on 24.5 penalties. No such favourable dressage mark at the Regional Final where the 28.8 dressage mark and finishing score did not look like it might make the top nine (to qualify) at one point. Fortunately as friend and our Riding Club Chairman Judith Bennett (Legato ll) and I watched through our fingers the section levelled out for Judith to finish 2nd (27.8 penalties) and us 5th – we were qualified for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup! Lukewarm bubbly was consumed by all.
The relief washed over me for at least 48 hours, the euphoria replacing it and the knowledge that we didn’t need the remaining four opportunities to compete at Regional Final, that we were on our way, was tremendous.
Fast forward to 2016, trotting up hills on an effervescent Frost, coat removed and looking less like a “worker” (thank you long-time friend John Marsden) and feeling like he’s really up for it. Let’s bottle that now…With two other baby horses (rising five and rising six) to keep motivated and progressing it can be very busy. Charlotte who helps with the horses five days a week and Lottie who does Saturdays become increasingly precious.
A trip to Cirencester to see a super customer Vanessa Arbuthnot followed by an overnight at the Hotel Du Vin at Henley on Thames was luxurious in that I went 36 hours without smelling of horse! Deluged by snow one weekend Saturday night, my brilliant help couldn’t make it so all Sunday was clearing paths and the walker with a little light relief when Frost and I managed a hack later on Sunday afternoon.
Evenings are spent scouring YouTube for video footage of the Grassroots competition at Badminton, memo to self, 11.00pm is not the best time to watch, it’s very scary then. The new branding and the increased profile not to mention a car for goodness sake adds to the excitement (I think that’s the emotion I am feeling?) I try not to lose sight of the lifetime ambition to ride ‘at Badminton’ and whilst I never made it to the four star this is equally aspirational.
Lessons booked with my Coach Chris McGrann who has already lived through supporting me in two Grassroots competitions at Badmintons and survived so I’m hoping he’s up for the hat trick. We work all the horses then sit and plan and assess over lunch before I have to dash to catch a train to London to interview a potential employee.
The baby’s go to Harewood Combined Training Group Riding Club dressage at Jodhpurs near York, it is Robert’s (Hanslough Boy) first outing and Herbert’s (Borrish Herbie) 4th so a couple of Prelim tests to learn. Both Irish and both grey, Borris Herbie was purchased from Jodie Skelton in County Carlow last May and just got to Askham Bryan in October and Robert is a very recent purchase from Peter Smyth in Northern Ireland. I’ve managed to convince my husband Kevin that at my age I need to ride more than one horse to keep me riding.
It was also Mathilda’s (the standard Poodle) 2nd birthday last week so lots to celebrate.