Finishing on a huge high!
Wow, what an amazing tour in Vilamoura! I can't explain how much fun it has been and what experience I have gained from it.
Dora didn't fail me this weekend by finally giving me my win that I wanted so badly; we won the 1.10m CSI 2*! It was such an experience to go into the prize giving, stand under the flag pole and see everyone get to their feet for our national anthem whilst the British flag was raised, it will honestly be something I will never forget!
We spent a long time packing and making sure that everything was in the lorry ready to head back to England tomorrow morning (Monday). The horses will now spend 3 days travelling and will then have a well earned 4 days off before they resume their work ready for the Welsh Masters on 13th April for 4 days.
The horses all look amazing, they look fit and their coats are shiny; this is due to hot clothing with antiseptic wash and Baby Oil daily. The antiseptic wash removes any germs from out of the coat and skin that they pick up from the sand. The baby oil moistures the skin and leaves the coat shiny, this also prevents the sand from sticking to the hair and skin. Dora even has her summer coat... no doubt she will re think this when she gets back to England!
Thank you all for following my blogs, I thoroughly enjoyed writing them. I will continue my next blog when I head off to the Welsh Masters on Thursday 13th April, so keep an eye on Facebook page and our website!
showjumping through the storm
Despite the weather and being ill we had another amazing weekend!
Thursday - this time I had a nice flight over to Vilamoura but I seem to have been greeted with worse weather than in the U.K!
Friday - I was in the last class today so to be honest I spent most of the day hiding from the huge storm that hit Vilamoura... I have never seen rain quite like it! It managed to ease off for my class so although the area was rather wet neither Dora or I needed our wet water gear on! Today was a speed class and Dora was on top form jumping a beautiful clear, we went into the lead by almost 4 seconds... but I was then beaten by 0.13 of a second at the very end of the class!
Saturday - last night I got very little sleep due to the storm! We got up in the morning with no electric and the showground on the rather wet side! I was in the first class so I went up to walk the course to find the arena was under water and they had pumps trying to pump the water off the ring. The class ended up being postponed for an hour to see if they could get most of the excess water off the arena. They did succeed to some extent as before it was all under water, there were now only large puddles everywhere but the going was still fabulous.
Dora was fairly sharp today due to the wind and rain but I like her feisty when it's a speed class as I know I can turn her back to any thing and she is there in front of my leg. She jumped another beautiful round and what we all thought was very quick but I ended up being knocked into 4th, but again I was delighted with another placing.
Sunday - on Saturday night I was starting to feel run down and not very well so I was in bed by 6:30pm that evening to try and regain some energy for my class on the Sunday.
Today was a brighter day, no rain! I got on and headed down to the arena but Dora wasn't that "up for it" today. She seemed very quiet and lethargic, I warmed her up and headed into the arena for my final class of the week.
This class is being run as a 2 phase (this is where you jump the 1st half of the course '1 - 6' not against the clock and if you are clear you head into the jump off stage '7 - 12' which is timed). Dora had 2 down at the very end of the course just because she had run out of energy! Dora is usually a very feisty sharp mare but it the jumping and staying away takes a lot of energy out of them, I also believe that she wears herself out on her hyper days! She is now going to have a couple of days of hand grazing to regain her energy for the final weekend.
Sunday Evening - I was on my plane at Faro waiting to set off, the announcement went off "please send your final texts and make your last calls to your love ones as we will be leaving for Gatwick in 5minutes where you will be asked to turn your electric devices onto Flight-mode". About 5 minutes later when we were about to leave we were plummeted into darkness! Everyone started screaming! We had an engine failure... just my luck! About an hour later the plane was up and going again and we flew home with 1 engine (apparently this is very safe and normal... I couldn't stop thinking "what if this one fails!")
I got home about 2am and now have a lovely chest infection so hopefully my antibiotics kick in quickly ready for round 4, the final round!
the UPS AND DOWNS OF JUMPING
This weekend has had its highs and low. It started on Thursday when I was due to leave for Vilamoura but storm Doris caused carnage on the M11 meaning I was slightly late to the airport. Once I had finally checked in there was an announcement to say that my flight had been delayed for an hour. This was fine as I had dinner in the airport and watched some Netflix and relaxed. When it was finally time to board they then told us that there was another delay of 45 minutes! We then finally set off and I arrived at the show, all be it slightly later than planned (12:30am!).
Friday was my first day of competing and Dora really didn't seem herself, it was a hot day but she was very flat and really lacked in energy, this is something very out of the ordinary! She had a couple down in her class, which again is very unlike her! As soon as I got her back to the stable I got the vet to check her over and take some bloods, we got the results back in 20 minutes and they found she was lacking in vitamin B which can cause muscular pain. He gave her a Vitamin B injection that evening.
Saturday, she was back to her normal buzzy, sharp self and had a really unlucky pole in her class, just clipping the pole in front. I was so happy to have her back to normal. She then had another vitamin boost that evening as ordered by the onsite vet.
Sunday, she was AMAZING! The course was built by the Olympic course builder, Bob Ellis, so it was incredibly up to height and very technical testing the horse and riders ability and courage. Dora jumped an incredible clear round, 1 of 18 of the 50 starters! I was early to go in the jump off so I kept everything very tight but didn't want to risk galloping as I knew there wasn't going to be many double clears. I ended up coming second being beaten by Rowen Willis who is also competing in the 1m40s at the show so it was a huge achievement.
Sunday evening I went to the airport, checked in and went to my gate to then find out that thy had over booked the flight and single travellers were being bumped off the flight as families took priority! This meant that 4 unlucky people and I had to be left behind. 3 hours later and I have a new flight booked for Monday, the others are on the Tuesday flight!
Monday, I am now in the queue for the gate to board the plane now... FINALLY!
See you in England!
OFF TO A GREAT START
I'm back home and now getting ready to head back to work after what has been a brilliant weekend at Vilamoura Atlantic Tour!
Caoimhes Delight was very fresh on day one but jumped a brilliant quick double clear to finish 3rd in the CSI1*. On day two, Saturday, I got slightly competitive in the speed and we had a slight miss communication leading to an unlucky pole with an incredibly quick time. On day three it was another speed class and she was on top form coming 3rd again!
All these classes were incredibly well supported with 55 in them each day, so it was always going to be a fast jump off.
Out and about
During my time at the tour we have been dealing with a lot of sand rash on the horses legs and bellies. This is due to the bugs living in the sand causing infections, so we have had to spend a lot of time bathing, towel drying and covering them in cream. Due to the FEI rules it's very important that you check the labels on the creams to make sure you comply with the FEI anti-doping rules.
Caoimhes Delight will continue light work by the grooms now until I get back out there on Thursday for another weekend of competing. I just hope we continue on good form.
1 day to go until take off
This week it is competition kick off! Over the last week my horse, Dora, arrived safely in Vilamoura after 4 days of travelling.
She has been kept ticking over by Laura Mantel, Laura Williams and Charlotte Dando, this has involved walking her out by hand, lunging and hacking around the beautiful sand tracks.
Dora had her first vet check and trot up yesterday, she was quite fresh but she passed with flying colours. I am all prepared to leave on Thursday afternoon and must admit I'm now struggling to contain my excitement!
Groom Charlotte Dando walking Dora up.
Dora enjoying her daily massage with the Activomed
I'm going to Vilamoura!
Beth Mantel is one of our full-time Assessor-Trainers and is still very active on the showjumping circuit. Beth will be competing at the Vilamoura Showjumping Tour on the weekends for the next 6 weeks! This is a very exciting time and Beth will be keeping us all updated with a blog.
Beth will be taking her 12 year old mare Caoimhes Delight (Dora)
Under a week today until my horse, Caoimhes Delight, starts her long journey to Vilamoura, Portugal! It's taken a lot of organising but hopefully it will be totally worth it. All my flights are booked and I will be heading out on the 16th February for my first weekend of jumping... I'm so excited!
We have Charlotte Dando as our head groom; Charlotte was a Haddon Training Apprentice a year ago and has been working for Mantel Equestrian for the last 6 months. Charlotte will be looking after Dora for me during the weeks when I am back at work; she will also be grooming for my sisters and cousins rides as we have 10 horses going out there... that's a lot of hay, feed and bedding to pack!
I will keep you all posted,