After a successful summer of showjumping for Tora we briefly advertised her for sale but with no viewings 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!!