The past two months have been quite literally crazy! The beginning of September is the BHDTA
National Championships held at the Queen Victoria Review Ground in Windsor Great Park. Jasper
and I qualified for this event back in June and it is always the highlight of the season. After being
plagued by terrible weather at every event we have been to since April the sun shone on Windsor
throughout the entire event which made a nice change from being soaked to the skin!
After weeks of bringing Jasper back up to peak fitness and making him over for this event we arrived
on the Thursday evening as we had to wait for Kiera to finish school (and spend ages washing her
hair!) before we could leave so we arrived quite late and started setting up camp with our friends
Kate and Joseph Adams. At this point I realised I had forgotten the pump that runs off the car battery
for mine and Kiera’s double air bed so I went round the lorry park looking for one. I eventually
borrowed a foot pump and spent an hour blowing the airbed up.
Friday was dressage day and we had quite a late time slot. Kiera spent all morning doing final
polishing and Elanor (Josephs groom) kindly plaited Jasper for me. Jasper did a brilliant test, I was
so pleased with him as everything we had spent all season working on came together and this was
reflected in our score of just 45! This put us in an amazing second place as we also got full marks in
our standing presentation.
After walking the obstacles for the final time in the dark Friday night we were up early for our crack
of dawn start time on Saturday’s marathon. Jasper went really well and I was pleased with how he
went as the marathon was nearly 18km with 8 obstacles in the heat. I was less pleased with myself
for making a very stupid mistake in the 7th obstacle which cost us time. However we all got round
safely and I soon got over it when I realised we were actually still in 4 th place. That evening I was
awarded the Reserve Novice Pony Driver of the Year Award for coming 2 nd in the Points League
which was a proud moment.
On Sunday I was determined to hang on to our current position and Jasper and I had an effortless
double clear in the cones just like we did last year. After a fantastic few days of competition we
came 4th as we were uncatchable due to our brilliant cones round. This means that Jasper and I have
qualified to move up a level next season to compete at National Intermediate level.
Very soon after this I was off to Southampton to start uni! Although I will freely admit I was terrified
about leaving home I love it there and being so close to home is great as it means I can still come
home and drive as well as compete. We kicked off the start of the Indoor Season with a trip up to
Thames Valley Region’s event at BCA with a slight change around in Team O’Neill as my mum was
visiting my Grandad in Crete with my two non horsey sisters. Kiera and my Dad very kindly got up
very early and gave up their whole day with my Dad chauffeuring and Kiera backstepping.
Jasper did a nice test to put us joint 3rd after dressage but only a penalty behind the leader. After a
clear in cones with just 3 time penalties we had moved up to second place, but with only a penalty in
hand. Jasper then shocked us all by flying round the obstacles to win our class by 0.3 of a penalty! He
was fantastic all day and I was so pleased with him.
My other really exciting news this month is that I have been awarded a place on the University
of Southamptons Sports and Wellbeing Bursary for Performance Athletes. This is a really big opportunity for me and I am really pleased to have been chosen for it. I am also now a member of the British Young Drivers committee and I hope to make an active difference over the next year to my sport.
Next month we will be off to our next Indoor event and a BYD On Foot Meeting at the Unicorn Trust.
Jasper is looking fab as always with a noticed improvement in his performance since we switched him to Pro so thank you Blue Chip!
You can keep up to date with all our progress at http://carriagedriver.net/carriage-driver-blog.php
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