As the event season has finished, Finnegan and I have travelled down to Oxford where we are now halfway through our first term at Oxford University. This is an exciting new chapter for both of us as Finnegan has been settling in at his new yard 40 mins from where I live (in the city centre), where I travel to ride him a few times a week. It's safe to say the transition to Uni life hasn’t been too stressful for Finnegan, as he is enjoying getting some well-deserved rest after a great performance at Osberton CCI* at the start of Oct.
As well as keeping Finnegan ticking over, I have been trialling to be a part of the OU Equestrian Squad. After a two-stage trial process at a local yard, riding 6 different horses over the two sessions, both on the flat and jumping to see how I handled unfamiliar horses, I have been selected to be a part of the squad.
The trial process was supposed to replicate the way BUCS events are run (Uni riding competitions), where you are given a horse you have never seen before and have 7 minutes to warm up before doing a dressage test. In the afternoon of an event, you will be given a different horse and are allowed to jump 5 practice fences before going around an SJ course, where each fence is judged out of 10. At each event, there will be 4 Universities competing, as part of a mini-league, with points being collected through a series of events, and regional champs to qualify for. Each horse you are given will be ridden by one member of each team, so your marks are compared against other people on the same horse.
Having only been on the squad a few weeks I can already tell how my riding will improve through the challenge of riding new horses of all different sizes and temperaments. I have come straight off one 13.2hh pony and put onto a big Irish hunter during training, and then had to jump around the same course with the same distances, and learnt to adapt my style to make the round as smooth as possible, and help the horses cover the distances.
My first BUCS event will be at Cherwell EC on 21st November, where I will be able to sport my Just Togs gear in competition again. Although, I have been very grateful to have my Mayfair Padded jacket now that the weather has chilled for my late afternoon training sessions.