Well this year has been a crazy one! COVID 19 has changed all our lives and the showjumping world has had to adapt like the rest of the world. However, some changes I hope will be here to stay. For example the scheduled individual jumping times ! It has been brilliant – there is no guess work, just ‘here’s your time’ and then we can work back from it – brilliant!
I had entered into the November Winter Classic at Keysoe. I did manage to get to Keysoe for their last show before the second lockdown but the dates of the Winter Classic fell on the days following the lockdown curfew so had to be cancelled. Such a shame as Simon (the owner) had made a noticeable difference to the surface so it was ready and prepped for their big show. This threw my plan up in the air. I had been aiming to jump the Grand Prix. I altered my plan slightly and squeezed in what I could before the lockdown came. I only took two horses – Dodger and Hamish. They both jumped incredible rounds gaining valuable experience. Hamish jumped round the 140cms for an creditable 2nd place! I was absolutely thrilled but gutted at the same time to have to put shows back on hold for another month.
Then the second lockdown was upon us. I didn’t quite understand the rules over this one. All the shops were still open in my area (all selling some form of amenities), it definitely wasn’t a lock down like the first one! The ‘stay at home’ rule once again brought me some more time to train and work hard at my yard.
Luckily for me my amazing trainers checked the rules. It allowed them to come to my yard to teach. They all drove to me during that period. So I crammed in as much as I could, Martin Greet for my flatwork lessons, Corinne Bracken for jumping lessons and Claire Norman my sports physiologist.
I practiced my homework with all the horses for the 4 weeks. None of the horses really jumped big fences during this time, it was all about getting their technique right and making sure we kept them strong and their fitness up. With Hamish we did loads of cavaletties on a circle and straight lines, improving his reactions and core strength. I also did a lot of lengthening and shortening making sure I could adjust him quickly and effectively. Dodger and Elsa (the 5 year olds) did a lot on the flat – working on their relaxation and their way of going. I also did some grid work and small courses to help their ridability between the fences. Pumba (one of the 3 year olds) is working on the same things as Elsa and Dodger but with more emphasis on the flat. This is to help him to get softer and less tense. Timone (the other 3 year old) isn’t as easy. I haven’t actually made it in the arena – we are still in the round pen! He is being a bit sharp and isn’t quite understanding my aid to stop ! But being as talented as he is we will put up with it for it now, I’m sure he will grasp the concept soon.
After the 4 weeks of training the first show back was Arena UK. I was really looking forward to it. Then the news came that with the new tier system in place it meant that they were not allowed to run. Such a shame as my last show there was a super one, the horses seem to really like it there. Instead Science Supplements Onley Grounds managed to take up the reins and run the Winter Classic. We quickly got our entries in. Unsure of what to jump due to not being out in what felt like ages we decided to put Dodger in a newcomers and Hamish in a 130, both jumped fantastically, posting double clears and placings. This left me in a bit of a dilemma as I was tempted to jump the Grand Prix but wasn’t sure if we had had enough ring time to be able to pull it off. However, a quick text to Corinne put our minds at ease (well maybe not mine completely) as she told us to jump it.
It was a late one ! I was supposed to jump at 830pm but unfortunately the show ran a little late so I was on Hamish and in the ring at 930pm (normally both Hamish and I would be in bed!)
After watching the first couple of horses I was getting a little nervous as there wasn’t a clear. I knew Hamish would take care of me I just hoped I would give him the best ride I could. There wasn’t a clear until over half way in the competition, I tried not to take any notice of this and just stick to the plan I had in my head. I went in the ring and Hamish jumped his socks off for me, even when I ran a little too close to the combination he sprang off the floor. The course was a technical one having some tricky lines and big fences! David Cole definitely made us work for it with a double of oxers, a combination and a double of verticals to finish. I was thrilled Hamish posted the 3rd clear of the class ! This has to be one of the best rounds I’ve ridden. Both mum and I where over the moon and infact we still are. I just have the best horse ever, he tried his heart out for me! Through to the jump off we were!!
Having got through I wanted to be tight but my main aim was to try and post another clear. Carron Nicol was before me with her lovely mare Nistria, she was so fast and posted a lovely double clear that then went on to win it. After watching her I went in and just tried to follow ! With my delight Hamish again posted another clear round I was slower but I couldn’t of been more proud of him!
To me the emotion was so great it was as good as winning the class. I was absolutely beaming!! I think I have watched Hamish’s round like 100 times, if not more, and every time it makes me smile. I think I must of called as many people as I could when I came out the ring, not noticing the time of 1130pm!!
It felt like the longest drive home we didn’t get in until 2 am but that show has to be the highlight of my year and even better that both of the horses jumped so well straight out of lockdown! I really couldn’t of asked for more – the late night was definitely worth it!!
Please feel free to watch the video, it is on my Facebook page: Lucy Struthers Horses or if you’re not on Facebook I have also uploaded it to Instagram Lucystruthershorses