I entered Tora in the 1.30 open championship qualifiers for this show, which I knew were going to be big testing tracks. On our first visit upon walking the course I realised that it was being run as a speed class which I wasn’t aware of beforehand. It was our first time going direct into a 1.30 without a warmup class first but Tora didn’t seem bothered and jumped superbly. As the course went on I started pushing her on for a fast time as she was jumping so well and cut a tight corner to a big oxer and unfortunately we met the jump slightly unbalanced resulting in her touching the back rail and picking up 4 faults. This was disappointing but I was very pleased with how she’d jumped and felt it set us up well for the rest of the show.
The next day we returned and jumped the same class, which was this time run as a two phase. I was thrilled with Tora again jumping brilliantly and producing a double clear. I didn’t push for the tight turns as much as the previous day but still opened up her stride in the jump off. We finished just outside the top ten which I thought meant we hadn’t qualified for the final, but I later learned that as some above us had already qualified we had indeed got into the final.
As I didn’t know Tora had made the final I took her back on the Saturday but she felt a bit tired and didn’t find the jumps as easy as she had been doing. She still tried really hard but found one related distance to a double a bit too long which resulted in a refusal. Although it’s never good to have a stop, I strongly belive that in this instance she felt that she just didn’t have enough energy and power to get through the combination so I was understanding.
It was only after this that I had a phone call to say that we’d reached the final. This was great to know but as Tora was clearly feeling tired and sore from her jumping efforts earlier in the week we decided not to enter her in the main ring class. It is always gutting to turn down jumping in the international ring and the chance to contest a final, but it was not right for the horde and her best interests must come first.
I had just two classes to jump in the second week, and Tora performed brilliantly to achieve two double clears, both in strong 1.30m classes.
In the first class on Thursday we had a small difference of opinion in which direction we should be going which cost us a very fast time and disrupted the flow of the round. To still come away clear was great though as realistically not every round is going to be perfect.
Then on the Saturday Tora jumped another double clear in a faster time to finish 8th and gain a place in the final in the international ring the next day.
Pyecombe Senior BS 27th-28th August 2021
I took Tora to Felbridge after she’d had a few easy weeks without shows. I only entered her in one class, the foxhunter, and she jumped a lovely rhythmical double clear. We finished in 7th, just outside the prize money.
Sussex area show
Keen to step back up to 1.30m level for the first time since Toras long covid break and my second pregnancy we returned to Felbridge a week after our last visit. The course looked plenty big enough for our first time back at this height, I was slightly nervous but determined to ride well. Tora excelled over the tougher parts of the course, using her natural ability to make the jumps feel easy. She jumped clear round the first phase and into the jump off where she just tapped one upright to finish on 4 faults. Although frustrated at having a relatively simple jump down I was pleased with the round and it has filled me with confidence to enter more 1.30 plus classes over the summer.
Royal International Hickstead
We had a slightly disappointing first day at Hickstead. In the first class we were rushed into the ring as there was no one else ready to go and the bell was rung immediately, this gave me very little chance to show Tora around the ring and it resulted in her backing off the jumps and getting eliminated just before the jump off. Therefore for the second class I made sure I didn’t declare myself as ready to go until there were others in front. With the extra time getting used to her surroundings Tora jumped round much better with one fence falling, mostly as a result of me having to ride her a bit too forwards to ensure we got round after our earlier class.
The second day went much better but sadly still wasn’t quite meant to be. Tora jumped confidently in ring 2 over a tough track, clear to the last but then tipping the infamous hickstead planks in the 1.25m open. In our second class it seemed like everything had fallen into place. Tora jumped clear and into the jump off, where I took off the hand brake and rode for a fast time. I choose to take a tight right turn to the last fence, Tora obliged and made it to the fence well but in mid air she drifted slightly to the right, and as we were already to the right because we had cut the corner my right foot hit the wing and the fence fell as a result. This was so annoying as Tora had jumped brilliantly and we would have been right up at the top of the leaderboard with a fast time if it wasn’t for my foot!
On Saturday we returned for one final class and it was very humid. Tora felt very flat and tired in the warm up. I hoped that she would come to life in the ring, but she just didn’t have the energy that she usually had. She tried her best around the strong 1.25m course but had two down. This has given me incentive to get Tora even fitter and stronger, and introduce her to the aqua treadmill to hopefully add extra strength to the muscles that are hard to target in ridden work. I have also learned that in the future I will try to avoid jumping 3 days out of 4 as Tora needs more recovery time to be feeling her best.
South of England
I took Tora along to jump at the South of England show to get some practice jumping on grass and being at a county show with other things going on. She coped well with the environment and jumped nicely on the Friday for her first time on grass in two years but rubbed the last jump for 4 faults.
We then returned on Sunday to jump two classes. There were very few double clears in the first class and Tora jumped round well and we were making good time in the jump off but annoyingly had the last fence in the jump off down. The exact same fence was then put as the first in the next class and again she had it down. It was very frustrating as she was jumping everything else brilliantly. The jump was an upright heading towards the stands with a plank at the bottom and a white rail on top so I think Tora was struggling to focus on the top rail with lots to look at in her eyeline.
Hickstead June meeting
I had entered Tora for three days at the first Hickstead meet of the season with the main aim being to try and qualify her to jump in the main ring again.
On the first day she jumped in one qualifying class and one non qualifier. In the qualifier, on grass, she coped well in the large ring 5 and took on all of the jumps. As we went past the entrance on the way to jump 5 she had a hesitation about passing the gateway and paused for a few seconds before I gave her a decent kick and presented her to the jump, which she cleared and carried on. At the end of the first phase I was preparing to proceed into the jump off however the judge rung the bell, much to my shock and confusion! Upon talking to a fellow judge on my way out of the ring they told me that the rules are worded that any reluctance to go forwards, however brief that may be, can be penalised with 4 faults. This seemed very harsh and I have never seen this rule be enforced for such a minor incident or in fact much worse in the past.
In her second class of the day Tora had one jump down in the first phase.
…….to be continued!
Pyecombe BS 6th June 2021
I took Tora down to jump the 1.10m, I had hoped to jump the bigger class but due to a change of plans on Saturday when I managed to get her sadler appointment and the 1.20m on Sunday being full we were limited. Tora behaved impeccably and sailed round the course for another staedy double clear setting us up nicely for South of England next week.
Tora (and I) have had an extended time out of the ring. She ended up having more or less a year off work through no fault of her own, mainly due to covid but not helped by my injury and then pregnancy. However, she is now back in work feeling better than ever and enjoying a job to do again. Many thanks to Michelle, Faith and Amy who put in lots of work getting her back to fitness from February this year. Faith also got her out to a few training shows which was hugely beneficial for them both. Now I am back on board I am trying to get her fitness even better and build her strength up ready to aim for some bigger classes later this year.
Felbridge BS 29th and 31st May 2021
My first time back in the ring for what felt like forever was the 1.10m on Saturday. Tora felt calm in the warm up and when we went in to jump our round she was in a lovely balanced quiet canter. The round started great but then we came to a related distance and I made a huge rider error and didn’t have enough canter which resulted in not making it down the distance and at the last minute I tried to add a stride which was just not there. My ring rusty self had basically forgotten to put my leg on and ride forwards round a course. The next class 1.20m, I gave myself a kick up the bum, made sure Tora woke up more in the warm up and had more canter in the ring and she eased round double clear. I intentionally went steady as we didn’t want her to pick up a placing and therefore points over her first few shows. I returned to Felbridge on Monday for the 1.15m at the end of the day. Learning from my mistake on Saturday I made sure Tora had a more forward rhythm to jump from and again went for a steady time by going wide in the jump off and she completed double clear.
£571 BS winnings 307 points.
22.04.21 Pyecombe day 1:
Tora was a bit cautious of her her surroundings at the show. But She went into the warmup positively and trotted round I felt her really take me to all the jumps and she felt quite strong. She went in the ring and absolutely flew round with a double clear. I made sure I rode her as confidently positively as possible the whole way through and it paid off.
Tora on the second day felt more confident than ever and really positive. This gave me a brilliant feeling, she absolutely flew round with the jumps in the warmup. Then when we went into the ring, she was quite happy to go in with all the other horses around her and jump round. We did get two poles but it was because she felt tired from doing two days of jumping.
Felbridge 29.04.21- Tora felt amazing at felbridge, so confident and me and her working as a team. She jumped a strong double clear and felt brilliant! I wanted to leave it on a good note with Tora at this show as it was my last time riding competing her. She will now go on to jump bigger tracks with a more experienced rider.
Liane March is now riding Tora and will be out competing watch this space!
Petley wood BS 1/2/20
After teaching in the morning I managed to squeeze in a quick trip down to Petley Wood for Toras first actual competition of the year.
Tora hasn’t been to Petley wood for a while and she finds the ring there quite spooky with lots of banners around the edge very close to the jumps. She felt like her eyes were on stalks when we entered the ring for the first class but credit to her, as soon as I presented her to the first jump she locked on and did her job. She eased round with a double clear, I didn’t push her in the jump off phase but we still picked up 3rd place.
In our second class Tora jumped even better, but this time I pushed her on in the jump off and turned tightly to an upright, which didn’t pay off this time and she picked up 4 faults.
Felbridge 30th Jan 2020
T back in the ring and popping round the 1.30-35 with no problem. Still could be stronger but nice to know our preparations for the coming jumping season are on track. Video on our FB page Hurstwood farm.
Tora then jumped round the novice SJ course (1.10-1.15m) clear and then luckily for us they put the jumps up to advanced (1.30-35) early so I quickly re-tacked up and jumped her round that. She felt great and again went clear.
Tora, Autumn/winter 2019
After a successful summer of showjumping for Tora we briefly advertised her for sale and we took her for training with two well regarded trainers to see if they rated her as much as we do. The first, Nick Turner, was very impressed with her athleticism and ability and suggested a higher value than what we had originally thought. Then we took her for a session with top international show jumper David Simpson who was equally impressed with her natural ability and convinced us to keep hold of her to push her further and into bigger classes next year.
As earlier on in the year Tora had jumped 4 double clears in newcomers but they had fallen either side of the qualifying dates, she still needed 2 more to qualify for next year’s second rounds. Therefore we went out to a few shows to try and get them, it was a little frustrating having to move down a class but all for good reason. As a result Tora is now qualified for both newcomers and Foxhunter second rounds next year.
As local BS shows have now all but stopped for the winter, Tora is not going to be competing much over the winter. She will stay in work and continue with her flatwork and jump schooling with the aim of starting back on the competition circuit as soon as the worst of winter is over.
Hickstead BS 30th August – 1st September 2019
On the first day at the All England jumping championships Tora jumped two classes with mixed results. The 1.20m qualifier was in ring 3 which had been split into two making it quite a small ring compared to the others. As a rider I probably didn’t adjust the way I rode her enough to compensate for the smaller ring and as a result had some fences down. Luckily the amateur qualifier was in ring 4 and Tora jumped a convincing double clear to pick up a placing, sadly not quite fast enough to qualify for the final as we wasted a few seconds in the jump off.
The second day wasn’t our day as we had to jump in the split ring again and the tight lines were our downfall, in the 1.20 open I allowed Tora to drift right anticipating a turn and she rubbed the last pole down with her back foot.
On Saturday we went to jump our (supposedly) last class of the week, the 1.20 open qualifier. I had watched the videos of previous days and was determined not to let Tora down by making any rider errors. I managed to get it right and as a result Tora jumped superbly around by far the biggest and most technical course of the week. I even managed to ride some good turns and lines in the jump off which she loved and we finished 8th out of 155 starters! This meant we qualified for the final in the main ring on Sunday, a terrific result, especially in such a tough open class with a relatively novice horse and as a rider eligible for amateur classes.
Qualifying for the main ring is such a great achievement and to ride in the International arena is something I’ve always dreamt of so on Sunday morning I was feeling my nerves. I think Tora wondered if she was going to dressage after she had a bath and was plaited for the occasion. She found the International warm up area very spooky at first but got used to all of the advertising boards and jumped well in there. On entering the vast main ring we were both quite daunted as there is just so much to look at. Tora started great and jumped the scary looking second jump enormous which threw me out of the saddle and I lost a stirrup on landing. It took me a few strides to get my balance back and a few more to get my stirrup, by which point we were nearly at the next fence without a stride. Tora couldn’t quite make the jump so we had to represent and she jumped it well on the second attempt. I then felt I had to push her on positively to keep her jumping confidently into the combination, which she did, but had the middle rail where we were a touch too forward. She then jumped well around the next part of the course and came past the members stand without getting distracted. Coming to the penultimate jump I didn’t ride a good line, I allowed us to drift through the dog leg and only got straight to the oncoming jump a few strides out and I could not see any stride at all. I couldn’t really ask Tora to jump from nothing as the jumps were simply too imposing so unfortunately our round finished there. It wasn’t the round I had hoped for but I was still incredibly pleased with how Tora had coped with the atmosphere and I feel we both learned masses from the experience. Ideally we would have jumped a slightly smaller class in there as our first and we could have still got round with a few small errors, however I’ve definitely learned more this way.
Pyecombe BS 2nd August 2019
With every outing Tora just keeps getting better at the moment. We popped down to Pyecombe on Friday to jump in their lovely big Paris Arena and she didn’t put a hoof wrong all day.
In the Foxhunter she jumped perfectly, I had planned to go for a steady double clear but part way through the jump off section I realised she was almost willinh me to put my foot down so I did but only for the last couple of jumps, this was still enough to get into the placings despite going leisurely to start with.
The 1.30m Open was fully up to height and with Tora only recently moving up to this level it was a tough ask of her. She relished the challenge and jumped a superb double clear which I was thrilled with.
Hickstead 23rd July – 28th July 2019
Tora jumped on two days of the Royal International at Hickstead and behaved impeccably throughout. On the first day she jumped clear in the novice championship qualifier and went forward to the separate jump off, with it being a qualifier I put my foot down to try and get a quick time but paid the price by picking up 4 faults. We then jumped in a different ring in the 1.25m which walked huge, probably the biggest track we have faced. Tora rubbed a pole early on and then I made a mistake coming to the planks at the last fence yet she jumped well overall and was undaunted by the height and width of the obstacles.
On the Thursday we returned planning to have another go at the 1.25m but with it being the hottest day in England ever we decided it was not fair to ask Tora to jump in the heat and sadly drove home without even entering the ring. Best to save her for another day.
With the spare entry from Thursday I had the chance to transfer to another class. The plan was to go back on Saturday but there wasn’t a 1.25m running that day so I bit the bullet and put her in the 1.30m on Saturday, with little intention of actually jumping it with the courses being built so ‘up to height’ (aka over!).
So on Saturday we got to Hickstead and jumped the 1.20 open in the rain and mud following the torrential rain overnight, a huge contrast from Thursdays conditions! Tora coped really well and jumped clear into the jump off but again sadly just had one pole where I was pushing for a fast time, however she still finished just outside the placings as double clears were few and far between in the slippy conditions. Then I had a decision to make, do we jump the 1.30?? I walked the course and it was both meaty and technical but at least it was on a surface, so I decided to give it a go.
The warm up was like a who’s who of Olympic showjumpers and eventers which was a little daunting, but not as intimidating as discovering I was to follow Michael Jung (my riding idol) into the ring! I entered as he was beginning his round and tried not to be put off however I was probably a bit star struck and not fully focused as the bell ring for us to start as we had the first jump down. Following this I pulled myself together and rode better and Tora really delivered. She flew round the rest of the course giving me an amazing feeling over the jumps and was as rideable as ever. I was obviously annoyed at making a simple mistake at the first but thrilled with the rest of it. Tora really relishes the challenge of bigger courses and so do I so I am now looking forward to jumping more.
A big thank you to Mike who backed my decisions all week, even when I made the wrong choice to even put her on the lorry on Thursday, and has given me the chance to ride such a talented horse. It’s crazy to think that last year this mare was jumping 90cm at shows, it’s taken lots of hard work at patience but her talent is definitely starting to shine through.
Petley Wood 16th July 2019
Winner Tora won the fox today and jumped a super round 1.30 (video on our FB page https://www.facebook.com/Hurstwoodfarm/)
Hickstead 19th – 23rd June 2019
Tora’s first Hickstead she picked up a placing and double clears. She is straight forward to ride to a jump, will go off any stride, never gets strong just stays nicely on the bridle.
Tora had her first Hickstead experience at the Derby meeting in June. The first day was a steep learning curve for her as up to now she has only jumped at local venues and hasn’t experienced such a busy show with an atmosphere. The first class started well but she got spooked by the photographer and sponsors hut just before the last jump in the first phase and so didn’t make it any further. Therefore in the other class I rode her very forward to ensure she didn’t get too distracted, which she didn’t, but it then resulted in two rails falling.
On the second day we both got our act together and she jumped beautifully round both her classes gaining two double clears. The first of which I rode steady and conservatively but in the second I let her stretch her stride out a bit more in the jump off yet still felt we could have gone faster. I was delighted to see at the end of the class she had finished in 7th out of over 130 starters!
We returned on Saturday and in the newcomers I decided to really push her in the jump off, it so nearly paid off as she had a really quick time but unfortunately just rolled one pole due to being so quick. She then jumped a really confident double clear around a huge Foxhunter track in ring 4 which she hadn’t yet been in.
On Sunday both of Tora’s classes were in ring 2, which is the large grass ring with lots to look at and plenty of spectators, some very close to the jumps. This didn’t phase her at all and she jumped super in the 1.15, just to touch a back rail of an oxer coming into a short double. I felt she was then set up perfectly to have a good jump round the Foxhunter which was straight after. That was until I walked the course and found that the course designer had put in the humongous open water ditch which is normally saved for just the Derby classes! I was not the only rider to be shocked and cross at this being put in the fox, others complained that there was no alternative, but the course designer was not willing to compromise. I had not practiced anything like this on Tora and felt it unfair on her but I went in and she jumped superbly (and clear) up to the water where I called it a day and retired. An annoying finish to the show for us but one that I can’t blame Tora for. Interesting enough the winner of the class was a horse that had been entered for the 1.25 Derby earlier in the day but the rider had missed the class and asked to be transferred to the fox, they were one of only a very few double clears.
Pyecombe 11th May 2019
Felbridge 4th May 2019
I took three of the girls for an outing to affliated jumping at Felbridge on Saturday and had a fantastic day. Tora went in the newcomers and made the jumps feel like X poles! I also tried a few tight lines on her and she seemed to relish the challenge, next time I need to be braver and go for the really tight turns as I feel she would easily cope but I need to get out of my eventer mindset of riding steady double clears! She finished 4th, so another rossy and in the prize money.
I also jumped Tora in the Foxhunter (1.20) and she was cruising around, but unfortunately we just hit a slightly bad stride to a big oxer and she came down on the back rail so finished with 4 faults. However I was really pleased with how she jumped.
All in all the 3 out of 4 double clears and 3 prizes equals a very good day in the office in my book. The three girls have earned a day off in the field tomorrow and will be back out next weekend at Pyecombe to try and keep up the good work!
April 2019, Pyecombe
Tora had her first outing for a few months to Pyecombe in April 2019. She hadn’t been out through no fault of her own, but sadly an outbreak of flu as well as being short staffed on the yard had ruined our plans for getting out to do any jumping until now. So we finally got out to Pyecombe and jumped BS on a ticket. Tora jumped well in the Newcomers (1.10m) and only had one slight wobble in a related distance but used her scope to jump herself out of trouble and completed a double clear. We then went back into the ring to jump the Foxhunter (1.20m) and she felt great, making it all feel easy and again jumping double clear.
Tora on her way to a win yesterday in the 1.10 combined training, her 2nd go at Novice level and her 2nd win!!