Bonnie Fishburn - 2013/2014 Winter

I always find the beginning of a new year a busy time because I have spent the last few months chilling out at the end of the event season and over Christmas then all of a sudden it’s only a matter of weeks away before my entry is due in for my first event of the new season. So it’s time to crack on and get the horses fit and out to Showjumping and dressage competitions for practice.

So far this year has been rather exciting for me. The first reason being that I received a very exciting email off Peter Buist, who is one of the selectors for the European 2* Eventing Team. They have invited Frankie and I to go to one of their Training and Selection Days in April. This for me is a real honour as it is one of my aims to one day ride on the team and has been a dream for many years. I know that at this stage it is very early days but still we are on the right track. I think they have invited 48 people to the training days and I'm not sure exactly what they will narrow that figure down to, but I will be sure to put every effort into making sure that Frankie and I are ready to put on a great performance.

The second exciting bit of news I had was at the beginning of January, I was notified that I had been listed as a finalist in two categories for the Equestrian Social Media Awards, the Amateur Horseperson Award and the Newcomer Award. This meant that I had to encourage people to vote for me and I was up against some really stiff competition in both categories. On 24th February they announced the winners, it was very nerve wracking watching them announce the winners. I wasn't in the top 3 in the Newcomer Award which The Spanish Riding School won, but I won the Judges choice award in the Amateur Horseperson!!!! Not only do I go away with an ESMA but I also win a week’s training on a Hippiokos Training Programme in Portugal. This involves intensive training in dressage and jumping, riding advanced horses in three lessons a day. Training to Grand Prix in the dressage and Jumping up to 1.45m. All my accommodation, meals and drinks are also included. What an amazing opportunity.

I had my first competitive outing of 2014 mid-January at Rodbaston College, where I took Florence and Percy for unaffiliated jumping. Percy was rather fresh and had lots of little bronco moments but finished 5th in the intermediate class with 4 faults. Florence was very professionally well behaved for a double clear in the open for 3rd place. 

Just 4 days later I took them back there for the British Eventing Jump Training Qualifier. Percy did the BE90 and was much more chilled out and jumped very well just having an unlucky 4 faults in the second round, but that was good enough for 1st place and a qualification with his very good style mark. Florence did the BE100 and was a little star and jumped fantastically well but 4 faults in the first round cost us a qualifying place, dropping us to 5th.

With all the horrible wet weather we were having in February, I decided to affiliate them all for British Showjumping, so that I could get some good practise over decent well-built courses. I just didn’t think we would get out eventing in March. I made my BS debut at South View at the end of February. I started by taking Frankie for the 1.05m Amateur class. It was nearly 5 months since his last outing but he was an absolute gem. Jumped clear in the first round and an even better clear in the second round, we finished in 10th, need to practise these fancy little turns that the show jumpers do in gallop!!! I also took Florence and Percy for the 85cm Amatuer class. Percy was rather excitable and a bit like riding a bull, he just had a fence down in the jump off. Florence saved the day by jumping a fabulous double clear and loved every minute of it. She finished in 8th. 

I have two horses to ride for owners this season, one being Dudley who I evented at the end of last season and the other is an 8 year old mare called Cherry. They have been busy going out to Combined Training competitions, because I think they are great practise for eventing. Their first outing was to South View at the beginning of March. I did the prelim dressage with 2'6 jumping. Dudley went first and apart from a couple of little spooks in the dressage he did a sweet test for 67.2%, he then went and jumped a very brave clear round in the jumping for 4th place. Cherry did a super dressage test, she had come on so much in the two weeks I'd had her, she scored 69.1%. She also jumped a clear round, we just need to polish her style up a little now, but a clears a clear and she went on to win. 

Frankie had his first dressage outing of 2014 at South View at the end of February, he was rather excitable, but he kept himself composed and pulled a 70.18% out of the bag in the Novice 27 and a 68.4% in Elementary 44. Taking 3rd and 2nd. He then went to Field House 4 days later to jump the Newcomers and he was a little star. He jumped a perfect first round and then was drawn first to go in the jump off. We took some tighter turns which I normally wouldn't attempt but he loved it and flew round and felt fab. We were just really unlucky to have the final fence down, he really deserved to go clear cause he tried so hard. We would have been second if we had left it up so it was an expensive fence. It didn't dampen my mood too much because I was so proud of him.

Next was back to South View for their British Showjumping show. Percy for the 1.00m Scope Qualifier. Percy jumped clear in the first phase so headed straight into the jump off, it was 1.10m which is the biggest course he's ever jumped and he was a little star and put so much effort in. He just had a really unlucky 4 faults.

My final competitive outing in March was with Frankie for the BS at South View, where he jumped a lovely round in the Newcomers, apart from having a silly spook at fence 10 which he had down.

As well as all the SJ and Dressage competitions I’ve been doing, I’ve also had a few trips out on farm rides and cross country schooling and all the horses have been on their best behaviour apart from a little disagreement I had with Percy at a step, where I ended up on the floor!!!!

Overall I think we've had a good start to our season and are now looking forward to our first events.