So to kick off my series of blogs for Equissimo I feel that I need to start at the beginning of the event season, the time I actually see it as a new year! Roo and I entered the March Aston Le Walls in the BE90 section. Aston is a good 135 miles from my stables. But after only having half a season last year due to breaking my ankle I was super keen to get back eventing and so was Roo! So keen in fact, the 3.30am alarm wasn’t an issue. We busted out the joint best dressage in our section and jumped a double clear bang on the optimum time. Boom! That’s how to kick off the season. We left Aston with my first ever BE win and a qualification for a regional final on the first try. Next week I got a phone call from Horse & Hound who wanted to feature Roo and I with a photo! I felt like a pro. I felt like all the hard work was paying off. But I also felt a little uneasy. I, as have most equestrians, learnt the hard way that good things come in waves… and I started to think about how and when this wave would crash and send me sinking!

That is the pessimistic side to looking at the wave. The optimistic way is to ride it out and enjoy it. Which we did for a little longer. Roo picked up another regional final qualification at Munstead with a 3rd place finishing on her dressage score again. My little youngster Jack started his first season eventing and picked up a few BE80 top 10 placings and managed a 2nd place in his first unaffiliated 90 Horse Trials. We were bossing it. I overheard one girl looking at the score boards, mutter my name and say ‘Damn, Lizzie is in my section’. That was an amazing feeling!

Roo and I then had a successful run in the BE100 at South of England, going double clear again (how is she so amazing?!) and missing out on a top 10 placing by picking up a few time faults. I had been toying with doing some 105s and some 100+ events with her to really challenge us. We went over to the dark side to jump a Newcomers on a ticket and schooled over lots of Novice combinations like they were cross poles!

The training was in full swing and going successfully. 110cm no longer looked scary to me, 120cm was an achievable challenge… which is no small feat for a 14.1hh Trotter X! She had a weekend off to chill out for all her efforts whilst I had a busy one of teaching and competing the youngsters. And the Monday evening back was when it all went downhill. That was when my wave crashed and I came back to the reality of horses. At 9pm I didn’t feel like schooling so I thought I’d give her a quick spin on the lunge so she has at least done something. Sent her out, up to trot and I saw that dreaded trot, drop, trot, drop. NOOOOOOO! I felt that horrible red flush of panic fill my cheeks and walked her back round to the stable. I’d let her feather grow a little wild which I try to avoid doing as she suffers with mud fever if I can’t get to the scabs. So with no obvious bug swelling I assumed it was that, clipped her legs out, popped some cream on the scabs and waited. This waiting game usually takes about 3 days. But 3 days later and there was no improvement. I’d kept my vet updated the whole time and we now agreed it was time to come and have a look after the farrier found nothing either.

My fantastic vet found some minor swelling around the check ligament area, scanned it and found a very small hole! Time for the ice boots, bandages, ultrasound machine and ice packs to make an appearance. 6 weeks of rest minimum. Day 2 of rest and Roo had bucked 3 holes in the stable wall and smashed a hold through the door. At this rate she was doing more damage than good so we tried pen rest. Nope. She popped straight over the 130cm fence and galloped to her buddies. So madam finally ended up swapping stables throughout the day with limited field time as a compromise.

Fast forward a few months and we’ve completed our walk work and are two weeks into the trot work with a sound pony! The vet and physio also think she’ll make it back for the last event of the season to hopefully get our golden ticket to Badminton. Obviously Roo’s welfare will come first and if she’s not ready I’m sure she’ll boss it again next year! But we are going to give it our best shot at getting ready to compete at Bovington, hopefully her next update is a success story!