After Covid travel restrictions postponed our trip to Geneva, the Windrush Equestrian Foundation team managed to re-route us to the London International Horse Show. I was looking forward to going to London as I have been to Olympia before so I was very curious to see how it would change being at the Excel arena.
The show had a much bigger feel to it with the excel arena being such a big venue there was room for expansion and the whole show felt more impressive.
Harry and I travelled down together with us both being northerners we shared the journey and managed to make it to the Excel Arena without getting lost, even though we had to ask Sarah which way to get out of the car park!
We had our Live Zone talk at 4pm and with Pippa being there with us I felt more at ease as she lead the way. It wasn’t as daunting as I imagined and I actually enjoyed it. I remember Alice Fox-Pitt saying to be yourself and control your own interview. I practiced breathing from our breathing workshop in November to keep myself calm and answering the questions with a clear mind.
Pip managed to sort us some backstage passes so we mixed with the best of the best in the showjumping world. It was quite surreal sitting on a table chatting to Pip with Marcus Ehnning, John Whitaker, Geir ‘Jimmy’ Gulliksen and Ben Maher (to name a few) sat just next to us. As an event rider we don’t get to go to such high profile indoor shows so it was a huge privilege to be able to mix with these riders.
When Pip arranged our course walk with Jimmy I was very excited as I watch a lot of showjumping and have seen him ride many times. It was a real eye opener to see how big the fences actually are. Jimmy is full of knowledge and wanted to pass as much on as possible in the course walk and it was clear that it’s not just about being able to jump big fences it was all about the corners and constantly thinking ahead about the next fence or line as if you didn’t think ahead you’d find yourself in trouble as the fences come thick and fast in the arena when they are that big. Jimmy sat with me, Harry and Pip after the course walk and talked Harry and I through each round which gave us a great insight. It was amazing how early he could notice a mistake was going to happen just from a rider not having enough canter or slightly drifting on a line. I found it very interesting how he was adamant you had to know your own horse and not get fixed about a certain number of strides it’s all about riding the lines and having the correct canter to match. It was a huge honour to be able to be sat with him and Pip through the whole showjumping class with an exciting end in the jump off with Harry Charles winning. Jump off’s are really all about shaving 10th’s of a second off!
We finished the day off with a long drive home arriving at mine at 2am then poor Harry had a further 2hours drive home.
Once again I would like to thank the Windrush Equestrian team for these opportunities.
Images courtesy of Peter Nixon