Tor Heard’s Equestrian Life

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Tor Heard 0Hello EL readers – and hello spring – sort of! As I write this, the weather definitely cannot make up its mind – sun, rain, hail, sun – we’re getting some serious April showers!

So we have plenty to update you from as I missed a month’s worth of writing. I believe when I last left you I had qualified for the JAS final at Vale View, following the Event Horse Owner’s Association (EHOA) award winners’ camp. The final was being held at Addington Manor on a Saturday, so I planned in advance to get cover in the shop and off we pootled down to Buckingham on 25th February.

My times were late as I’d qualified for the two later classes. We arrived in good time for a change, and went to inspect the course. During the 8 or 9 horses we watched take on the course of show jumps and imitation cross country fences, a lot were having problems. I walked the course carefully and debated a risky turn to a solid chair with a flimsy branch back pole, to put me on an angle to approach the coffin (a treble of rustic fences). Being as indecisive as I am, I didn’t make my mind up. The time for the competition was very tight, with even some big horses and whizzy ponies clocking up time faults. During the warm-up I made sure Tommy was nice and open in his canter, and he was jumping well. We took a skinny pole down in the novice class due to us motor-biking around the corner – but we finished bang on the optimum time. I didn’t think my style mark would have been fantastic, but we scored 12 (48/60), plus 4 to finish on 16, taking 10th place, which was a surprise!

I had a decent gap before we tested the Open course – the same set up, but standing at 1m15. I was feeling confident at this height as we’d done plenty of BSJA over the winter, but having seen how easily the poles were falling, it did make me worry. One of the competitors I watched, a girl about my own age on a big grey horse, set the bar high by producing a beautiful clear round inside the time. Having seen her made me more determined to prove myself!

Hearing Kenneth (Clawson)’s words ringing around my head, “Stay calm, breathe, and count the rhythm,” helped me immensely – we landed a nice clear with just one time penalty to add to my yet-unknown score. I was practically wetting myself with anticipation as I went back to the trailer. I had over an hour to wait for the final results, so I left Tommy tacked up and sent my mum up to find out my score and watch the remainder of the riders.

That next hour seemed like an entire night. There we were, stood in the dark, Tommy happily munching on his haynet whilst I myself paced back and forth, ringing mum every 2 minutes to find out what was going on. I soon discovered that my style score was a fantastic 10 (50/60), giving me a total of 11 and putting me in first place, with the lady on the big grey a close 2nd. I was itching to tell someone, but didn’t want to jinx it, so only told my 2 closest friends, and announced on Twitter that I’d ridden a double clear, and fingers crossed. The response was INCREDIBLE! My phone was beeping like crazy for the next 45 minutes with people wishing me luck. Eventually, my mum rang me and told me to come up mounted, meaning I had come at least 3rd.

As it panned out, I had won. WON! The JAS Final! My mum cried (don’t tell her I told you that!). It was incredibly surreal having Tommy tucked into the winner’s rug, a sash looped around his neck, and being interviewed by Horse & Hound within a few seconds of the placings being announced! I was totally awestruck – it was the best feeling in the world. Tommy had completely deserved it and I was so proud that I’d been able to demonstrate just what a great jumper he is. Over the moon didn’t quite cut it!

Since then, we’ve come back down to earth, mounted our photograph and mentions from Horse & Hound in the wall, and started to tackle our dressage issues. Our JAS win secured us a further £500 of training vouchers (plus a cross-country lesson with Blythe Tait later in the year), which has seen us having weekly lessons with Caroline Moore to address the problems. We’ve had some serious temper tantrums, plenty of reversing at speed and some bucking frenzies, but I think we’re starting to make headway – at our last event, our first novice of the season at Sapey, our dressage mark improved by 18% since Stafford, only 9 days before. So here’s hoping!

Until next time – in between copies of EL Mag, why not have a quick look at my website – www.torheardeventing.com – keep up to date with our progress, see photos and watch our videos. Take care all!

Tor & Tommy

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