Science Supplements Cup

Tuesday 4th May - Wednesday 5th May, 2021 #SSCup

Natalie Ireland: Where has the time gone?

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I can’t believe the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at Badminton is next week! I’m not sure where the time has gone, but it’s certainly gone fast. We’ve been trying to get in as much preparation as possible for the big day and hopefully iron out any issues in plenty of time. I’ve been having a few lessons with my wonderful instructor, Jannet Bowness. Jannet has taught Oscar and I since 2007, when we first started doing well, and is practically the reason we managed to channel Oscar’s sometimes challenging personality into the superstar he is today. We’ve mainly focussed on jumping, as this is definitely our weakest phase, but we did have a dressage lesson at the start of the week to run through the all-important test. Jannet really is great for me, as she makes me think about what he’s doing, what I’m doing and what I’m feeling rather than just telling me ‘do this, do that’; it’s made me much more aware of how to influence our performance. I’m just keeping everything crossed that I can remember all of the tips I’ve been given, although I think that’s quite the task in itself!

We did Northallerton BE last weekend, as our first and only event so far, with both Oscar and Lady. We had a really fantastic day, despite the 4am start. Both ponies did lovely tests, with well-deserved scores, although I didn’t know my scores until I had finished for the day. Oscar rolled his usual pole in the show jumping (I’m hoping he’s planning his allotted clear for the season for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup) and Lady was clear before both of them having a lovely clean run round the cross country. Lady is much less experienced at eventing, but I think she may still need some bigger jumps and I think Oscar would have gone round again given half the chance. They announced the results of all the BE90 sections as I was walking back from cross country with Oscar. Oscar placed fourth, a positive start to the season, and Lady had WON – Her first ever BE90 placing. Obviously, we were over the moon with both ponies. A huge thanks to the organisers and sponsors of the fantastic prizes (vouchers that were quickly spent)!

So, now we are just getting ready for the adventure to really start. We gave the wagon a good spring clean at the weekend, so it’s looking sparkly, for now… Final training sessions are booked and we have started to pack, and make lists, and pack some more; I’m sure we’ll still forget something, but my must haves are myself, Oscar and his fancy new fleece cooler that my Mum bought him so he can travel in style. I have quite the support team coming with me; my Mum, Dad, sister and her boyfriend, my boyfriend and my instructor and her daughter. Not only that, but there are two other riders from my riding club competing in the BE100 and also another combination from our local area, also in the BE100. So it should be quite the get together if nothing else.

I’m not sure how much more I have to tell you all right now, but I must say a few thank yous… Most importantly my family as they’re the reason I manage to squeeze everything in, and we work so closely to keep all the horses ticking over, getting them to shows often without much time for anything else. I couldn’t do any of it without their support. Also, Jannet, as she has really helped us over the years to get where we are now, and her support leading up to and at the event is invaluable. Finally, to Oscar’s personal performance management team, our vets (Jane King and Emily Willoughby ), who have given me great advice and help with keeping Oscar happy and healthy and our physiotherapist; Rebecca has been treating (or should I say spoiling) Oscar leading up to Badminton, so that he feels his best and it’s safe to say he’s enjoyed every minute of it (below)!

So that’s it. I’ll try and keep you updated with our progress and if anyone fancies saying hello, Oscar says he really likes polos!