HANNAH TOWNLEY – Another season done and dusted!

I can’t quite believe that the 2018 season has finished! Rhingo and I have had so much fun and come so far this season, I’m sad that’s its over!

Our Regional Final at Homme House went OK, we did a really nice test but didn’t quite impress the judges as much as I thought we did, with a score of 30.8 but sometimes that happens, so we were still happy with that score. Show Jumping went really well…until we rolled the last pole! How annoying is that when it happens?! Cross Country was amazing as always, clear and inside the time, making it feel easy – clever pony! We finished just inside the top 20, so we can’t complain!

Next stop was Blenheim Eventer Challenge and unfortunately this didn’t quite go according to plan. The show jumping was good, and then we had a slight hiccup on the cross country section! It was about half way round, and up until then we were having a good run, but there was a big skinny fence on a downhill approach, and as we came down the hill, I just felt we were not travelling enough, and sure enough, as we approached the fence Rhingo slammed on the brakes and we parted company. I got checked out by the medics, and apart from feeling very sore and stiff, both of us were OK. If I’m honest I think we both took a bit of a confidence knock as cross country is our best phase and we don’t usually have any blips, but I guess that’s horses for you, we can never be 100% and it just goes to show that even the best phase can sometimes not go according to plan.

We were due to go to Bricky BE next but the weather took a turn in the lead up to this event, and even though I walked the course the day before, I just felt slightly uneasy about the wet conditions. Without studs, I always have to think really carefully about the going and the forecast, and I just felt that having the fall at the last event, I didn’t want to push Rhingo in slightly wet conditions and run the risk of him slipping. So we withdrew from this.

Dauntsey Park Regional Final was next in the fixtures for us. I have to say I was feeling rather nervous as when I walked the cross country course, there was a very similar skinny to Blenheim, and as hard as I tried, it was playing on my mind. Pushing it aside for the dressage, Rhingo did me proud and pulled out a 28.3! I couldn’t be happier; it was just what we both needed to boost our confidence. I had quite a bit of time in-between the phases at this event so I had booked a stable, Rhingo was able to go and chill out for a while, eat some hay and gather up his energy for the jumping phases! Show Jumping was going really well, until I made an error!! Rhingo was on form, he was focussed, listening and forward, but I just misread a stride and we ended up taking off too early, resulting in a pole, Doh! Totally my fault, I take full responsibility, but it was a good feeling to know that it was nothing he did, he was on good form. Rhingo was on fire cross country, a real machine, point and shoot, totally locked onto each fence, including the scary skinny! I shouldn’t of worried, as Rhingo clearly didn’t!! We came home clear and inside the time, and finished 9th. Our first placing at a Regional Final, so I couldn’t of been happier and more proud…although that silly rider error in the show jumping was very costly…but we won’t dwell on that!!

Having gone so well I decided to withdraw from Bovington due to the weather and didn’t go to Aldon either as it was pulled from the card earlier in the season. In my mind Rhingo had done what I wanted and we had achieved what we had wanted, I felt it was a good place to end the season, on a high!

Looking back on the season, I feel that our dressage has become a lot more consistent and that’s great for me, as this is the phase where I do most of the work on my own at home, so to know that we have improved and are being consistent is really good. For me now, it’s about building on a few areas and then hopefully we can try and aim for sub 30 at every event next season.

The show jumping has greatly improved over the second part of the season, we had a change in instructor and I really feel that this has benefited us, she is really helping to improve his canter and I’m really looking forward to working on this more through the winter.

The cross country phase is well….he’s a machine, he just loves this phase and we are looking forward to going hunting through the winter as long as the weather allows!

So, what for 2019? I think our aim is to keep going, to keep having fun and to keep trying to be more competitive. Having had a taste of Regional Finals this year, this is definitely something we want to aim for again, who knows – top 3 next year??

As long as we are both having fun and enjoying ourselves why not!