Monday, March 8, 2021

We welcome Suzie Jenkins as our new 5* blogger in the run up to Badminton.  Suzie is an owner with Tom Jackson with her husband Iain.

Blog 9 Badminton – Final horse inspection

Another nail biting moment for owners wondering if their horses have recovered well overnight with no injuries or stiffness that might prevent them passing the inspection. 

Katya has rested and eaten well and looks good so I am looking forward to seeing her strut her stuff ! Here she is having a final brush and polish…

Blog 8 Badminton – post cross country

Well the adrenalin is falling away now and I have to say I am over the moon with Tom and Carpa du Buisson Z ! A safe completion is quite the result today as we are at the halfway point and so many having problems or retiring.

I was pleased there was so much to see on the bank of screens in the owners and riders maadmintonrquee because the main screens hardly covered his round . I am so relieved and hoping all is well overnight for all the horses ahead of tomorrow.

Time to find Tom for a drink 🥂🥂

Blog 7 Badminton Cross country day !

I have to admit I had a sleepless night! Not really through worry just yet but my brain is in overdrive thinking about the last few days as well as the next two.
Katya meanwhile slept well and is still eating well, blissfully unaware of the next few hours.
Meanwhile having popped in to wish everyone luck we are marching around the final phases of the course trying to decide where the best pictures will be and deciding how we would be riding the fences in another fictitious life !😂🙈

Blog 6 Badminton Trot up 

The first horse inspection is complete and Carpa du Buisson Z looked fabulously shiny but slightly disconcerted so many people had turned up! That said she passed the inspection without a hitch but with a few quizzical looks at the crowd. Let’s hope she is more used to the atmosphere once she makes into the dressage arena this afternoon.

It is wonderful to have friends and family around me this week sharing the experience as well as so many rooting for us behind the scenes. 

Blog 5 Badminton countdown – 2 weeks to go for Carpa du Buisson Z

So the draw is done and we are number 35 on the start list. Watching the draw was a nail-biting experience and I had wanted a slot late afternoon on the first day given Katya’s tendency to become tense and she always performs better later in the day. Drawing 35th place was about 3 places off my version of the best-case scenario. We are also not too far ahead of the midpoint of the cross country so hopefully Tom will have time to see a few rounds but not too many will have gone to cut up the ground. For Tom’s partner Sabrina she is happy with two odd numbers although I have no idea why !

It came a day after Katya’s final competition at Burnham Market which passed off without event and without injury. She managed a more promising performance in the dressage and another lovely double clear. I had been concerned after a practice run through the Badminton test at South of England where she delivered one of her worst tests in over a year and even the judge said “Poor you” in the comments! This is what you have with this horse and why strangely we all love her so much. She knows her own mind and as a result you can get brilliance and catastrophe in equal measure.

It’s all systems go now and the final preparations are underway. Tom Jackson and his team will have it all under control so I am focussing on my own arrangements to ensure a jolly social time. That should keep my mind off things for a bit.

Blog 4 Badminton countdown 4 weeks to go

The sun was shining at Belton and the ground looked perfect that was the good bit on dressage day! However I have now developed concept for Katya of highest climber – let me explain…
Inspired by Imogen Murray at Badminton last year, winning a trophy for being the highest climber after dressage I thought here was hope for us. So yes you have probably guessed it – Carpa du Buisson Z may have started well in her test but quickly let tension overwhelm her score.

Having seen Imogen rise 48 places to 11th in May last year I  reminded  myself that Eventing is a triathlon and there is a long way to go after the dressage and boy did we move a long way!

On Sunday it was show jumping and she came out knowing today was jumping day. Her excitement had reached a new level as she strutted into the arena looking fabulous and set off.

It was an exuberant round to say the least clearing fences by miles but Tom managed to keep her in check and produced the clear round. We had started to climb.

Horse and rider’s favourite discipline followed with the cross country. There were a few difficult combinations including the new collapsible table at fence 5 to what you might have thought would be a corner but was in fact a corner of a table. It was the fence the riders walked many times as it proved hard to read for the horses. No problem for us though and the direct route went smoothly and Katya was quick witted and settled into a pretty good rhythm all the way. We wanted a good run in preparation for Badminton and we got it with an average number of time penalties. Most importantly we had risen 63 places!

This may be the last cross country run for her depending on ground conditions, Tom will have to decide what he thinks is best.

In the meantime she will head to South of England to run through the Badminton Dressage test and I will head there to watch with some trepidation….

Suzie Jenkins

Blog 3 27 March  2019 – 5 weeks to go

Best laid plans to start the season at Pontispool ran into difficulty when we heard it was cancelled at short notice due to heavy rains. What a disappointment, it was 10pm and we had already travelled 300 miles to Somerset. Tom and the team back at the yard had six horses bathed and plaited ready to go but everyone stood down.

Then the impossible seeming job of rerouting. Katya needed that run so finding something at Great Witchingham the following weekend was essential. The event had closed and so we had to look at substitutions. Unfortunately that meant my other horse Dusty was one of the casualties and Katya was in. A huge thank you to the entry secretary for shuffling all the horses that were affected.

The following week ahead of the competition, I left at 4am to watch Katya in a training session coached by Pippa Funnell. Always a fascinating lesson as she makes time to really give good feedback not just to Tom but to me as well. Most people think I am mad driving all that way to watch a lesson and home again, but it is all part of the madness of owning event horses we love so much.

So the North Norfolk coast beckoned and the first run of the season proved to be far too exciting for my little horse despite all her experience. She couldn’t contain herself after the canter phase in the dressage and lost marks in her Intermediate section. This is absolutely typical for her at this stage of the season, but I can’t complain too much as she sailed round the other two phases for a double clear. I would take that at Badminton any day!

Next up with 5 weeks to go is Belton. Let’s hope she can settle down a little during the dressage….

Blog 2 10th March 2019 – The Badminton Entry

What a busy fortnight it has been! I have been worrying about entering Badminton before it closes and now it is DONE! Just a nail-biting few days to see if we are accepted once the closing date has passed.

I have waded through the pages of entry information trying to make sure all the information is correct and giving details to give the commentators something to go on. Tom is naturally very reserved and will be the last one to put in anything that is too positive about himself, so it is lucky he has no Wi-Fi or mobile phone signal at the moment, so I had to do the entry for him!

I wonder which details will be of interest? Katya’s feisty personality or her constant desire to jump in and out of her paddock? Or Tom’s 2018 results on his string of exciting horses?

In the meantime, a lot has happened back at home. Tom Jackson Eventing has packed up the entire yard and finally moved ahead of the season start and the trucks rolled out last week leaving Kent for Chris Burton’s former base in Surrey. What a huge task and with the season now underway but the team has been hard at work keeping the horses in their routine.

Katya is certainly not letting it all get to her and is settling in well, getting plenty of beauty sleep and enjoying the new paddocks. She is headed to Pontispool this weekend for a first run, so we can see how she is feeling to be back on the job.

Blog 1 26 Feb 2019

Where do I start? I am so excited and terrified to have a horse on the road to Badminton. Sixty days to go and Katya hasn’t competed since she finished 13th in her first 4* (now 5*) Pau in France at the end of October. It is a bit scary.

To some extent, these fears are just the normal paranoias associated with owning an event horse! You always worry that something is going to go wrong because you know that there are so many things that can go wrong!

But more about that later… My roller coaster journey as an event horse owner began in a discussion with rider Tom Jackson about 6 years ago.

I was just an ordinary horse rider and Pony Club mother whose experience of Eventing was the annual trip to Badminton and watching my children hurtle round the cross country at Tetrathlon until I decided to buy 4-year-old Carpa du Buisson Z (stable name Katya). Further horses followed and luckily within a year I had Tom on board and Katya has come through the levels after a difficult start. My quirky little princess made it all the way through.

What can I tell you about her? She is very talented and the bravest little horse. She is the pony of the yard but with the biggest jump. She isn’t a fan of dressage –she can be very opinionated yet can do a champion test if that day is the day she decides to. But put her cross country and she throws heart and soul into it (perhaps with excessive exuberance at times) and show jumping is what she was bred to do. She proved herself at Pau finishing double clear at one of the world’s top competitions at just 10 years old. It was my proudest moment. I am only sad that as the last horse to go cross country the video team had packed up and gone so there was no record of the round!

Can she repeat it? Who knows? We have Badminton as the target and she has come back from her holiday raring to go. Has Pau affected her confidence? We won’t get a sense of that either until her first runs at Pontispool and Belton to kick off the season.

But before I know anything, I have the owner’s dilemma for May: I must start thinking about the best way to watch her at Badminton. You feel a bit foolish booking hotels and restaurants when you are not even 100% sure she is going. The worst thing is wanting to invite friends, but I will feel pretty sheepish inviting everyone along if I have to pull Katya out days before the event for some reason. Enough negative thinking! We are focusing on the upside, there may not be much time before Badminton but too much for me to imagine every eventuality.

In the meantime, Tom, is moving yards to a beautiful yard in Surrey, not far from Pippa Funnel, where he often trains. It will be a big wrench as Katya and Dusty and Ginge will be much further way and I will not be able to pop in to see how they are going. But it is a big step forward for Tom and Sabrina and their brilliant team, at Tom Jackson Eventing and I am sure the horses will settle in well.

Suzie Jenkins