Me and Elfi

So this year has definitely been a roller coaster. After making the heartbreaking decision to retire my fantastic mare Elfi in January (that’s us in the photo above). I said I wasn’t going to buy another horse, but instead try to breed from her and wait for the foal to grow up. I think I lasted 2 weeks!

My instructor managed to persuade me to come a see a horse he had in. The owner wanted to loan him out and apparently he would be perfect for me. I was pretty sceptical – nothing could be as nice as Elfi – but I went along.

Will was right – he was perfect for me. And so Merlin came home. Looking back now it’s the best decision I’ve ever made (Elfi isn’t going to have a foal – but that’s another story).

That was all the way back in April which feels like a lifetime ago. Since then I’ve been working hard with him and my two instructors to improve his strength and balance. He’s a 17.3hh just turned 6yo with massive paces so he really struggled to hold himself together. We’ve done some dressage competitions at home together where he’s proved to be a total star, never scoring below 70%.

Which brings me to last weekend. I finally plucked up the courage to compete away from home. Now you’d think this would be a very normal thing to do… it would be if he hadn’t totally demolished my friends lorry when we brought him home. I must admit, last Saturday morning was probably the most nervous I’ve ever felt (even worse than competing at Hartpury!!) loading him. Was he going to travel? Would he cope with standing between classes? How would he travel home once tired?!

But he once again proved to be a total legend. He travelled like a dream, super relaxed and taking it all in his stride. My amazing friend Alex brought her pony with us as Merlins travel companion which Merlin seemed to like.

I had selected the venue carefully, Alnwick Ford has a massive warm up so he would have lots of space. He warmed up beautifully, really listening and on my aids. Unfortunately he went slightly into himself once we were in the arena, but he did everything I asked him to do so I literally couldn’t have been happier. I had in my head it was a mid-sixty test, moved on and started thinking about the next one. He was better in the next one, although still slightly behind the leg. I made the mistake of chasing him and consequently pushed him ever so slightly out of balance which probably cost us a few marks but again, he was hoof perfect!!

When I finally went in to pick my sheets up, to my delight he had scored 69% in both classes to finish 2nd and 3rd!! The whole day was a lovely experience and I couldn’t be more proud of how he behaved both under saddle and around the lorry. We’ve qualified for the Summer Championships in October too!

I’m hoping this is just the beginning of our journey together. I’m going to register him with BD next month and start gaining qualifications for the Areas and Regionals at Prelim and Novice. He tries so hard for me and my instructor really feels he can go right up the levels so I’m super excited for our future together!