The Team

Laura Bennet Season Round Up

The start of the season saw Sadie, Sarah and my trusty sausage dog mascots make the cold long journey to Keysoe for the Riding Club

The start of the season saw Sadie(horse), Sarah (groom) and my trusty sausage dog mascots make the cold long journey to Keysoe for the Riding Club dressage championships. Sadie looked a little confused and slightly ‘miffed’ to be suited and booted and walking passed the cross country fences. My non horsey husband described us as ‘slightly insane’ for travelling all that way for a four minute test, but Sadie was a complete star and performed a fantastic test to finish 3rd in a large class, a proud moment for myself, super groom Sarah and the two lovely ladies from my riding club (you know who you are) who made the long journey to come and take some fabulous photos and cheer us on. I was very shocked that my little event horse held her own amongst the dressage divas (so much so that I took her plaits out and went to the coffee shop to get a warm drink). A very quick re plait and even more confused horse, and we dashed down to the prize giving. Sadie was not too impressed with waiting for the mounted prize giving, made even more exciting by the fact that we got lost on route to the arena, (those of you that know me will know I could get lost in a paper bag). All in all a fantastic day and made the 4.5 hour round trip worthwhile.

Our event season started well with a rather enthusiastic few poles rolled at Stafford in the thick mud but a lovely clear XC round and a fantastic dressage score. The biggest achievement of the day was however, that we didn’t get lost and that Doris (my trusty old lorry) didn’t have to be towed onto the field next to the big posh Lorries!
A busy time lambing at home meant we had some time to have some much needed dressage training and attended some very worthwhile eventing clinics. These clinics are so useful for us to help get our eye in before the season really kicks off as it can be difficult to get out and about when juggling a full time job too!
Our next event was Aston Le Walls Novice where Sadie decided that ‘ two out of three aint bad’ with again a fantastic dressage and then a rather wild show jumping followed by a lovely clear cross country. After this we decided to go back to the drawing board and have a change of bits to see if we could ‘contain’ the excitement. Unfortunately, our next BE event at Eland Lodge Novice was not our day, she felt very flat in the dressage and in hindsight I should have known this was not like her and quit while I was ahead. However, with limited funds and time to run at events I thought I needed to run her for us both to gain experience. She got through the show jumping and I went cross country. Normally out of the start box she is bouncing and full of life, instead I got a very calm and sedate horse. We skimmed the first 5 fences and she came down the hill and completely ran out of steam at the box fence at the bottom. She didn’t want to travel forward at all down the bank and I decided to retire her. We came home and after a visit from my amazing physio we realised she had wrenched her neck and jolted her front legs badly (probably in the field as she often resembles a large orange acrobat)! I felt awful and said to myself that I would listen to my gut if she didn’t feel right again.

A few days rest and some gentle work to build her back up again and we were off to Broadway for our next event. Sadie was back to her old self and stormed round. Finishing 3rd on her fantastic dressage score of 26! I was so pleased to have my bold, rather exuberant orange lady back again.

Our next big party was the Grassroots Eventing championships at Keysoe. This was an event I was really looking forward to as I love staying away in Doris and completing the disciplines over three days. After much deliberation we decided (well my hubby did) to forfeit the British Dressage Combined Training Championships both Sadie and my old girl Rosie had qualified for to go to the three day. We made it a holiday and after a full week at work we made the 3 hour trip on the Friday night to the event. My non horsey husband decided he would come along, of course accompanied by my lovely sausage dogs to support. Sadie was foot perfect all weekend and our dressage scores were very tight in the top ten. To add to the pressure we show jumped in reverse order or merit where I was lying in 7th place (got a little excited in the cross country and sailed round a little too quick). Many of you will know show jumping is my weakest phase and I often over ride so this was a massive challenge for me to hold my nerve and not let Sadie down. To my amazement, I helped Sadie (for a change) and she jumped a beautiful clear to move up the placings and finish 5th! Such a great feeling and this was made even better by the fabulous prizes we both won.

Our next event was riding club area eventing, I little bit further away than usual but we went to the lovely West Wilts. Sadie finished 2nd and qualified for the championships as an individual. What I didn’t realise was that the championships were in August. Normally this would be fine but I had booked to teach at three Pony Club camps and to visit my lovely sister who lives in Canada! After lots of forward planning, massive support from my trainer, husband and most importantly my lovely friend they all worked together to keep Sadie ticking over for me to take her and have a go at the champs. I was so grateful to them and after a delayed flight home which meant we missed our connecting flight we finally arrived back in the UK at 3pm on the Thursday, the day before the champs!! Feeling severely jet lagged was not going to stop us from going and I stayed awake to try and beat the time difference. Sadie, Paul, the sausages and I had an amazing weekend away in Doris and she finished a very credible 4th.

Two weeks of Pony Club camps and before I knew it the summer holidays were over and I was edging ever closer to a non-horsey chapter in my life. I had decided to go back to university to study a masters in education. Although I think at times I may be crazy, this is something I have wanted to do for a long time and was finally given the opportunity to follow my dreams to become a primary school teacher. It is a very hard work and I don’t seem to stop but this time next year it should hopefully be all over and I will be a qualified teacher. Horses for me are a hobby and this is something I have always wanted to remain so although juggling eventing around a full time job can be a daylight hour nightmare it would not be possible for me to achieve these things without my amazing husband, mum and partner in crime Sarah so for that I am forever in your debt. I feel honoured to be part of the Hardy Etc team and hope I can continue to fly the flag for you. Showing true amateur riders that dreams are possible if you just keep at it and most of all have fun. It’s not all about successes but the fun you have trying and like I know all too well making mistakes!

Our season finished with a lovely trip with the Clifton Pony Club to the beach at Brean. This was a first for Sadie and I and I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone who wants to blow the cobwebs away and enjoy a fun day out with their horse.

Have a fantastic winter everyone and I’m sure I will see you out an about on my orange dressage diva. We are going to get some much needed show jump practice in and wish the winter away so we can hopefully dust off the top hat and tails for the 2018 season.
See you all soon,
Laura, Roxy and Frankie.