In the run up to next year’s Mitsubishi Motors Cup, we’ll be following one grassroots rider’s journey. In her first blog for Eventing Worldwide we introduce Laura Hayward and Stanhopes Travelling Man…..

It’s very exciting to be asked to be EWW blogger for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at Badminton. My name IMG_5430is Laura, I’m 27 and I have just completed my first season eventing. My super partner for Badminton next year will be Stanhopes Travelling Man or Stanley as he’s known at home. Stan is a 16.1hh, 10year old coloured gelding by Stanhopes Diddicoy, who has been owned by Sarah Reeve since a two year old. I have a lot to thank Sarah for and I’m very grateful for the chance to ride Stan.

I have just completed my first season as I normally only show jump – having competed up to 1.30m level with success in 1* Grand Prixs. Having only show jumped right since pony club days means I haven’t ever done an event at all – my first time trotting down a centre line or leaving a start box was at Oasby in March this year.

After working for Sarah last year, the opportunity arose to show jump Stan over winter. However come the start of the season when his usual jockey was injured, the question was asked if I wanted to give it ago. I want to point out at this stage that being a showjumper, I like my horses to go nicely on the flat, but have only ever ridden in a jump saddle, getting my legs long and my body taller has been a challenge. And the thought of cantering downhill or jumping not on a surface is somewhat alien!

So after a dressage crash course with Jane Green and some helpful XC tips from Alex Postolowsky we were on our way to Oasby. I must admit I did wonder what on earth I was getting myself into but it was too late at that point. It was also a wakeup call whilst casually walking the XC course when Sarah pointed out I needed to be walking every line seeing where I could shave seconds off the time…. I hadn’t realised it was that serious until that point, I think I was just going for a little pootle round!

The day went well and we finished 4th which was the start of a great season.

Stanley has had a wonderful education with some brilliant riders, so he’s been fantastic to show me the way. He’s been brilliant for educating me on things like getting a gage on XC speeds, seeing how the ride felt to how far inside the time I’ve been, or how close to the optimum I was.

I wanted to secure as many regional qualifications as possible and was thrilled to gain three! We chose Bold Heath to be our first regional final and I was delighted with our second place meaning we had qualified for the final at our first attempt!

The season has gone smoothly since then with a very educational run (for me AND Stan I think!) in a large Yorkshire Cup Final at Frickley Park where we finished 4th, and then we had a dream finish to the season winning our last three runs – one 90 and two at 100.  It’s been exciting as Stanley also finished 4th on the foundation points league tables for this season.

Stanley is having a quiet couple of weeks after the last event, but he won’t really have a holiday as such, more that he will just go onto tick over. He lives with Sarah and she does all his fitness work, I have a dressage lesson every other week on him with Jane Green (no stirrups galore!) and I often ride him the day before an event. We try to fit in as much British Show Jumping as possible and have done during the eventing season, and all of this will continue through the winter, with the addition of maybe some dressage competitions (which will be new for me too!) all in preparation for next year.

I did fashion studies at university, and after finishing, worked for a year for Slipquiz Ltd who are the UK distributors of Kingsland Equestrian, KEP Italia Hats and Tucci riding boots. However for the last year or two my focus has been on these animals my non horsey parents thought I would outgrow. I still run the social media for Slipquiz, alongside having my small private yard and being a Nail Technician in an evening.

Over the winter I’ll be keeping you up to date with everything we do and all our preparation for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup in May so you can keep up with mine and Stanley’s journey to the big event itself.

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