Wow, what a whirlwind the past few weeks have been for us. Our aim this year has always been selection for the World Equestrian Games, and with 3rd places at Badminton on Allstar B and Luhmeuhlen with Zenshera, I was long listed with both horses. The wait to hear if we had been selected seem to go on and on, as there were queries with the length of the course in Tryon. But we were in lick and Allstar B was selected to go to America! We had plenty of horses pit running at competitions before the big trip so it was a rush to try and get everything fitted in, and Mum and the girls at home were fantastic at Making sure all of Albys food and kit were packed for him.
We had an overnight stay at Addington for the vets to get Albys papers signed, before Alby sett off for liege, Belgium to catch his flight to Charlotte. He had an overnight stay in Belgium before being loaded on the plane and arriving in America on Wednesday evening. Once arriving at the venue they then had 2 days of quarantine. Exercise is restricted and it isn’t an ideal place for fit horses but every horse had to do it. Our grooms and vet did an amazing job at ensuring the horses arrived in the competition venues fit and well, Alfred lots of walking in all in one, sweaty, body suits!
We flew on Friday and went straight to the venue to see the horses and get our bearings. The next couple of days were quite relaxing. We had group gym sessions first thing then went to the venue to give he horses some light work. Alby was drawn last to go for the team, so I had a long time to wait to get started! We trotted up on Wednesday and worked the horses. They then opened up the arena for familiarisation so Alby worked again to get used to the dressage arena. He worked so well, that with humidity at 90% I decided to give him a day off on Thursday. I wanted to work him first thing on Friday morning as it was cooler then so I I thought if I over did it on Thursday I would make him stale before his test.
Alby absolutely rocked his dressage rest. There were lots of people watching and I followed an American rider in so there was plenty of atmosphere but Alby so solid as usual and so calm and obedient to sit in the bronze medal position overnight!
Xc day dawned much cooler thankfully, and we got to he venue early to walk the course one more time whilst it was quiet. I then took Alby for a jump as he gets too excited to do any practice fences before he starts and he felt great. Then here was another long wait until my turn. The other Brits did amazing jobs and Flew round the xc so suddenly it was all down to me! I’m not naturally the quickest rider in the world but I was determined to set out fast and then try and keep it up. Alby was amazing. He is such a careful jumper that I could just keep on galloping and he rocketed up the huge hill at the end to finish well inside the time and move us up to individual silver and team gold. With the forecast looked terrible for to the hurricane, the sj was postponed for a day and so Sunday turned in to a day of waiting with just the trot up to do in pouring rain. I gave Alby a bit of a leg stretch and he felt great. Sunday night was our last night in America. We enjoyed a thank you meal with all our owners, family and supporters and then got an early night ready for showjumping the next day. By this point I was looking forward to the competition ending and being able to get a good nights sleep without waking up thinking of what was to come!
I had another long wait before my jumping round. I watched some competitors to get an idea of how the course was jumping and then headed back to the stables to get my head in to gear and focused on how I wanted to ride Alby. Sarah had ready and looked immaculate as she had all week and Caroline, Albys owner and my trainer got our timing to perfection. The warm up arena outside the sj was quite busy and noisy so we didn’t want to be down there too early. We only jumped Alby 3 horses before he was due to go in and he was on top form. I tried to block out what everyone else was doing but I was aware that the Irish had closed the gap on us and the pressure was definitely on! In we went and Alby went sky high over he first. He honestly jumped he round of his life and went clear! The reviled and joy when we jumped the last was amazing and the next few minutes were a complete blur. Suddenly I was being jumped on by all he GB team as Ingrid had knocked the last pole and I had won teams and individual gold!
What an amazing week we had. Team GB were the best. Everyone had the same goal and were just lovely and it was brilliant to stand in a podium with them. The supper team made our jobs easy, but my biggest thank you must go to Caroline and Alby himself. I’ll be a very lucky girl to sit on another horse like him!
We flew home that night and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. We still have lots of horses competing and were out 2 days later eventing. On top of that I’ve had a lot of media requests to fit in, but it’s all fantastic and the number of congratulations we have had is just brilliant. Our Eqclusive brushes were of course well used and admired in Tryon, Alby looked every inch the superstar all week!
Photos from Jon Stroud Media