This is really where the “proper” riding started with my first proper horse.
We bought Brian as a long legged big-eared four year old from Tom McEwan. He behaved so badly during the vetting that the vet questioned whether my parents really wanted to put their 13 year old on him. However he really suited my personality and we “got” each other. When he is feeling great, the world gets to know about it!
At our first BE run he surprised us both by finishing 4th in a Mitsubishi Motors first round. We had a fun season together working on his dressage and managing his over-exuberance in the show jumping. He finished 5th at the Mitsubishi Motors regional final, qualifying for the Badminton Grassroots Championships.
He tries his heart out at all he does, and it is especially evident in his flat work. It has been the key to his success as it has meant I love schooling him for dressage, he learns quickly and cheerfully and delivers consistently.
2016 was a great year for Brian. He won the Pony Club Open Area Dressage and the Team Open Dressage at the Championships, demonstrating that the hours of flatwork schooling paid off. In his first 8 runs with British Eventing, he didn’t finish outside the top 5, despite moving up to Novice mid season. He won 4 of his runs including the BE100u18 National Championships at Frickley. In his final run of the season, in deep Dauntsey mud, we started the Xc in the lead. It was clear he wasn’t enjoying the slippery conditions and for the first time, I experienced the deep disappointment of retiring on the cross country course.
He started the next season with a win and two 4th place runs. I felt like people were judging me for still running at the same level. My choice was to sell him, or move up to Intermediate against the advice of my vet and physio. He had the heart and mind for 4* eventing, but the confirmation of a great Novice eventer. However we were having so much fun.
When you move onto horses you assume you won’t need to worry about outgrowing them. Sadly I discovered that you can out grow a horse’s physical capabilities.
He flew round his first Intermediate cross country clear and comfortably inside the time. However I had taken him beyond his physical capabilities and although he wasn’t lame, he wasn’t quite right either. It was clear that continuing to run him at this level wasn’t going to be the right choice for his long term soundness. It was a tough but important lesson to learn.
Brian is now loving life as a Pony Club eventer and hunter in his new home.