We are still trying to get used to not seeing Bongos face peeping out of his stable at us when we arrive at the yard, he absolutely loved his stable window and was the first face everyone saw upon arriving, we received so many messages of sympathy, so would like to thank you all for your kind words. Mum made a keepsake for me by cleaning, painting and framing one of Bongos shoes, and mounted it inside a frame with a name plaque, I’m really pleased with it and it will be mounted on the wall with Bongos photos.Louise (my physio) has been working hard on my hip, and I have backed off in the gym a bit on the things that aggravate it, to allow it chance to get better, so I have been concentrating more on core work. I’m glad to say it slowly improving, which is a good because on Saturday 8th October we took Prince to Rodbaston College to compete, we had already qualified for the Winter Championships and got the scores I needed to enable me to take Prince to Selection trials, so this one was just for practice. Prince was as awesome as ever, and we scored 71% in the Team test and 70% in the Individual test, so we were really pleased with him again, and he is getting through a fair few bananas at the moment.
So with the first lot of competitions out of the way, we turned our attention to preparing for selection trials. For Prince that meant making sure Toby shod him at the correct time, he was clipped a week before and had a session with Sue Palmer (Equine Physio) to make sure he was feeling the best he could. Sue has been working really hard to help Prince with the turn on the haunches, with good results. He finds this movement quite difficult to step across himself without knocking his knees or treading on himself, but they are getting much easier for both of us which is great news.
For me, apart from my ongoing gym and physio work, I have regular session with Jenny (sport psychologist)so we have really worked on preparing myself mentally for selections, and reflecting on everything I have learned over the past 4 years on squad. I think that during this cycle I have really learned how all of the different areas of support really interlink together to make the improvements rather than thinking of them as separate areas. For example to improve the turn on the haunches, I have worked intensively with Leonie on the technical element, with Jenny to overcome the frustration I feel when I’m trying to perfect something, Louise and David at physio and in the gym to strengthen me weak side so I can sit straight and use my legs and arms independently, and Sue has helped Prince physically through physio to enable him to improve.
Having a couple of weeks free from competition also means we can get back to basics, and Leonie puts me on the lunge to work on my position every so often. I think she gets pleasure out of being mean and making me work without stirrups and my rein, so she can really make my seat secure, and think about influencing Prince with just my seat aids.
Selection trials finally arrived on the 29th October, Leonie and I set off late morning to The Unicorn Centre in Stow on the Wold, which is where we have most of our squad training sessions, so at least we are both familiar with the environment. We had our ridden section at 1.45, which is run according to FEI rules, so Leonie warmed Prince up in the outside arena, which is allowed as I am a grade 2 rider. At 1.45 I entered the arena and had 20 minutes to work with Leonie in front of the selectors before she had to leave the arena. After this I then had to ride two movements from any of my tests, one good and one not so good. I chose 3 loop serpentine and rein back, once the movements were performed I then had a training session with Ferdi Eilberg to work on my chosen movements. I was so pleased with prince throughout the whole session, and we even had chance to work on the medium trot strides. I think the selectors really liked Prince anyway, but we will have to wait and see.
After the ridden section, there is a an Interview process with another 3 selectors, who all ask an array of questions about lifestyle, horsepower, performance etc etc. This section last around 30 to 45 minutes and everything is video recorded throughout the process. I was really pleased with how the day went, especially as Leonie had been really poorly the week before and had given me whatever she had, so we were both coughing the whole day, so it was nice to get home and relax, knowing we have done everything we possibly can to get re selected. We won’t hear now probably for a couple of weeks and when we do, we cant usually announce it until the BEF announce the squads, so I probably wont be able to update you for several weeks.
Finally on Sunday my sponsor Countrywide Equestrian asked me to visit their store in Bromsgrove for their Autumn Event for a few hours , where I met some lovely people and a photographer who wants to come and take phots of myself and Prince. I hope everyone that went along grabbed themselves a few bargains.