Mel’s manic months….

As the curtain came down on July, we had two outstanding commitments before we hit August…

We enjoyed an evening trip up to Park End Equestrian Centre, as I had been invited to take part in a demo for the South Northumberland Senior Pony Club Camp. The horses had a great time, the campers were happy ones and we enjoyed a delicious supper! Such opportunities remind me of how important role models were during my younger days so it’s a privilege to be on the flipside.

Our final outing of this month saw us heading to Frickley Park for my first BE event since my accident last year. The day started off with rain, which was great for the ground however I wasn’t really looking forward to being on the receiving end of a soaking.  Thankfully, I didn’t need to dwell on the weather for too long as it faired up and the day brightened. Despite being somewhat nervous, and struggling a little bit with a rather sore and overworked ankle (elegantly encased in vet wrap), Rockstar and I had a super time. Not only did we survive but we were also placed. I think that Mum and I quite possibly own the coolest, most kind and genuine horse ever.

As the heat wave continued, the team, horses and I welcomed August and headed back to what we know best…dancing between the whiteboards…

With six horses on board, we took a pre-regionals trip to Holmside Hall. It was a sweltering day and we were kept very busy ensuring that both horses and riders remained hydrated and cool. Despite being a little warm in our jackets, we had fun and returned home with some super results.

Our next outing was, without a doubt, a ‘proper’ road trip. We headed north and then even further in order to compete at the Scottish Regionals. The journey was long and warm but we passed through some beautiful scenery and, many hours later, we arrived safely. Our first day of competition was a good one, as all three of the young horses I rode were so well behaved and produced some super work. Jade completed the day with a second place in the Silver Elementary class so we headed into the local town for a little bit of a celebration and R and R! We had a great second day and the two five year olds who competed in the Novice class were so lovely; I’m incredibly excited about their futures.

Following our regional expeditions, I was ‘over the moon’ to receive news of a couple of wild cards. DHI Hinke was given a place in the Elementary Gold and Inocencio DHI secured a place in the Novice Gold class. Whilst this was exciting and celebrated, I remained mindful that we had the chance to compete at the expense of someone else…and that’s somewhat tricky.

We were well prepared for our final dressage camp of the Summer; it was a pleasure to welcome yet another great group of equestrian minded people. Horses and humans alike worked incredibly hard as well as having lots of fun (and there was plenty of laughter.) Once again, my Mum and Dad were amazing; they make wonderful hosts. I was also delighted to have the support of the Millbry Hill team, who very kindly donated vouchers for the ‘end of camp’ goody bags. I already have lots of new ideas for next year.

September saw my focus return to eventing. In advance of competing at Richmond Horse Trials, I decided that Rockstar and I needed to up our game for the show jumping phase. This culminated in a trip to REC, where we flew around a 1.10m track. The last time that I jumped such a height would have been at least seven years ago. This was quite an achievement for the rider but a ‘walk in the park’ for the horse. My decision to tweak within this phase proved to be a rather savvy one as Rockstar and I finished on our dressage score to win the class; he was such a superstar. I was incredibly relieved to survive the day and return home in one piece as the final Sunday in August has become a little bit of an unlucky one for me. Two years ago to the day resulted in me being kicked in the head and last year I broke my ankle. Thankfully the day ended well. It was also lovely to watch Izilot DHI and Rosalind Canter win their section on an amazing dressage score. This horse holds a special place in our hearts, as he was originally one of our youngsters. He is most definitely a star of the future and we the team and I are incredibly proud to have been able to put in the foundations for this.

We then embarked upon a full on trip to Alnwick Ford, which saw us rewarded with some super-duper scores. I rode 12 tests on 6 horses. Each and every one of the horses gave their all. With a whole host of scores in excess of 70% (and up to 77%), the journey home was a celebratory one.

September’s ‘out and about’ schedule was a little quieter than usual as I was very busy behind the scenes focusing upon my own training as well as supporting others. We also had the Nationals to prepare for. We headed to Stoneleigh with three ginger ponies on board, hoping that the weather would improve; we were most definitely missing the summer sun.

Day 1 was somewhat ‘breezy’ but I was really pleased with the 5 year old whom I competed in the Novice class. Normally a rather laid back chap, he was somewhat ‘keen’ in the arena walk but managed to hold it together in the actual test. At such a young age, this was a great experience for him. Our focus for the second day was the 4-year-old Shearwater young horse finals. TCE Jubilant al Sno (a stallion owned by myself and my Dad) finished in 8th position. He was greatly admired and continues to be an absolute delight to own and ride. The final day of competition saw DHI Hinke contest the Elementary Gold class. She tried so hard but a miscommunication in a canter transition and a less than brave give and retake became costly. She is such a talented mare but super sensitive too, so found the occasion a little overwhelming. We had a super time and I’m already looking forward to preparing the horses for the Winter regionals.

Having enjoyed a long weekend away, I was rather excited to return home as ‘ the new girl on the block’ had arrived from Holland. Our first ride together was amazing…welcome to the team 4 year old TCE Jinte (Gucci.)

We really didn’t want the summer to end…but the exciting horses on the yard will most definitely make up for the seasonal changes.

– Mel Chapman

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