The Perils Of Show Jumping Sport - 3

To Valkenswaard and beyond!

So last time I was on we had just managed to get horses, jockeys, dogs, lorries, children and grooms all in one piece to the Longines Global Champions Tour in Valkenswaard - well apart from leaving in England Joanne's car, phone and nearly Sam!! And Sam had jumped the first day in the big class of the five star to just have the last fence down with the fabulous Sumas Zorro.

The good thing about being a team is we share horses all the time so if one of us needs we can pinch the others - unfortunately my good mare Vera is on a break at the minute with a slight injury so Sam had given me his beautiful mare Lady's Queen to compete this show. And we started the week with a slow but steady trip around the medium far so good.

My second horse, Championes, is the beautiful bay in the photo of my blog and whom I have had a lot of success with in the bigger classes over the years and so I was hoping for a nice result in the bigger class with her to make up for all the hassle getting there.....Unfortunately that was not to be as heading clear towards the second last fence my mare uncharacteristically stopped and spun around.... Something which really took me by surprise as she is so brave and would never do this. Puzzled I left the ring... It would become clear later however that she had a very sore foot - obviously a bad bruise or an abscess - so that meant I was now down to just the one horse....Things were definitely going from bad to worse for the WKD show jumping team.

Thank goodness for Sam and WKD Cairo who went into the big class and saved the day with a fantastic ninth place in the ranking class of the 2*! Things continued to get better with the beautiful WKD Pepperpot coming in 8th in the big class of the 5* section on Saturday - hopefully a good sign for the LGCT Grand Prix to come.

Our pocket dynamo Sumas Zorro had unfortunately an early draw in this quite demanding track and just made a green error misjudging slightly an early very tall tricky vertical - Sam immediately picked up the pace knowing all was not lost as a fast four faults could still get him a call back to the second round - however this risky strategy was to cost him another rail near the end and he exited the arena with a very respectable GCT debut score of 8 faults - the fairy tale ending was obviously not going to happen this trip!

But that is our sport - it's the ups and downs, the tantrums and time faults which make it so addictive. As I sat looking around the tables in the beautiful VIP area overlooking the fabulous grass arena, I saw people from all walks of life, rock stars mingling with billionaires, Muslims with Christians, with Jews, Hindus - and probably a smattering of atheists - all gathered together, brought together by one beautiful animal; these feisty, head strong, brave determined creatures who week after week try their utmost to win - to push their bodies to the limits in order to please their riders....What power they have to achieve what our world leaders can't do - to unite everyone.... Imagine a world with more sport - maybe it would be a lot better place?

And so all too soon the weekend was over, the last class was jumped and no trophies were this time to be had. All horses jumped well but to be honest our preparation was perhaps a bit rushed with all the stress of getting there and also a little bit of bad luck with injuries and accidents. The team was meant to travel on to San Giovanni in Italy to a show there - but we decided that we needed to head back to the main yard in Ireland to regroup, train and prepare for the next LGCT in London....

Sometimes you just have to stop, take a step back and go again - and with the team's biggest challenge ahead - the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games - it's important that we get our preparation just right!!!!



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