One year on – a tribute to Freddy.

Today marks one year since I lost my darling Freddy. I know that we all love each and every one of our horses dearly, but I truly believe that sometimes one comes along who really captures your heart like no other – and Freddy was that kind of horse.

I loved everything about Freddy, even though we had plenty of ups and downs. There were times when he misbehaved and let me down, just as there were times when I misjudged situations and let him down. We made a lot of mistakes, but slowly began to learn from them. I’m sure many people wondered why I persevered with a horse who could be so unpredictable, just as others wondered why I hadn’t managed to achieve more with such a talented horse. He just made me so happy, and I enjoyed every minute I spent with him – from the adrenaline rush of galloping cross country, to quietly enjoying the scenery on a fabulous ride out, or just hanging out with him and finding his favourite scratchy spots.

I think my most cherished memory of our time together was winning the NSW Equitation Championships in 2012. While eventing will always be my number one passion, to be rewarded that day for my riding, presentation and our partnership is something I’ll always be proud of. He tried his little heart out for me that day, and when the judge told me she wanted to buy him for her daughter, there could never have been a price that would have made me want to part with him.

My darling boy and our treasured trophy rug – looking exhausted from all that good behaviour.

It has been a long year of ups and down while I’ve tried to come to terms with losing him so unexpectedly. There seems to be some misinformation about what actually happened that day. I guess this might be a good opportunity to clear that up, because it’s not really the most pleasant topic to have to try to explain all the time.

Fred was heading to my coach’s farm while I went interstate for Christmas. On that morning, we spent a couple of lovely hours just hanging out, waiting for him to be picked up… He had a bath, extra breakfast, and then I sat in the paddock with him while he grazed next to me. I had no idea it would be the last chance I had to spend time with him – but it was such a beautiful morning.

The last photo I ever had the chance to take – one of my favourite moments with Fred.

On the way to the farm, a tyre blew out, causing the float to fishtail and tip up onto two wheels. Fred hit his head on the wall, and went down. Initially, he seemed to be fairly unscathed aside from a relatively minor head wound, so we thought he was going to be ok. However, he was cast against the wall of the float, and even with a number of us trying to get him up, we just couldn’t get the leverage to help him onto his feet. The vet had been called immediately, but unfortunately shock set in before he arrived, and Freddy passed away.
It was just one of those truly freak accidents – the road and weather conditions were perfect, and the float was being driven well within the speed limit. Even in hindsight, I don’t know that there could have been anything done to prevent this from happening, aside from avoiding putting him on a float ever again… obviously not a logical option for a horse who regularly travelled for competitions, training and socialising.
All credit must go to my amazing instructor, who managed to avoid what could have been a far more serious accident, and I’m so grateful that she wasn’t injured as well. Absolutely everyone involved had only his best interests at heart – sometimes it seems that terrible things are just inevitable.

This will be the last time that I write about Freddy. While I will never stop missing him, I’m learning that holding onto grief does absolutely no good – it won’t bring him back, and it certainly doesn’t make it hurt any less. So rather than dwelling on what I have lost, I just want to focus on the happy memories we created over the years.
Losing him was certainly the most traumatic experience of my life, but I am grateful that indirectly it has allowed me to travel and experience different parts of the world, and I will certainly never forget everything he taught me.

Rest easy my darling Freddy – thank you for lighting up my life.


Dressage Skillz

I nearly forgot, I absolutely can’t go any further without posting this video… I think this is going to become the theme song of my trip over here. Everyone back home is sharing it on Facebook, and everyone here is talking about it – it was played a number of times in the barn aisle today. It’s lighthearted, hilarious, and something that most of us can relate to. A very fun song to have stuck in your head while mucking out 😉

Dom and Jimmie Schramm, the masterminds behind EventionTV, are only a short drive up the road from here, so I’m hoping I’ll get to meet them while I’m here.

If you haven’t come across them before, you absolutely need to check them out on facebook and youtube. They’ve got some fantastic, informative videos, as well as lots of fun ones like this.

Making plans!

 

 

There are now only 65 days, 23 hours and 38 minutes until I leave on my big USA adventure.. not that I’m counting or anything 😉 For those who don’t yet know, I’m going to be spending my uni holidays in the States with Phillip Dutton. I’ve spent this week booking and paying for boring things like travel insurance, flights and hotels. It’s depressing watching those thousands of dollars disappearing from my bank account when I’d rather be spending it on all the beautiful winter riding clothes I’ll be needing over there. It’s also taking a lot of self-restraint to stay on top of my uni work when I’d rather be looking up all the must-sees and must-dos which I’m hoping to squeeze in on my way to Phillip’s!

I’m heading there via New York, and returning home via LA, with about 5 days in each place on the way. So if I have any American followers, or anyone else who has travelled through these areas, I’d love to hear your suggestions!

I’m currently on my mid-semester break and have soo much to try to fit into this week.. it’s Thursday already and I’ve barely ticked off a third of the list! The best news is that my lovely old dog, Willow, went in for surgery yesterday which we were all a bit worried about, but she pulled through fine and is now home and recovering well.

 

Pre-surgery cuddles.. she’s not quite as pretty post-surgery, but I’m very happy to have her home in one piece!

I’m feeling terribly over-committed to so many things in the next couple of months. I made a lot of plans for October and November before I made the decision to head to the US, and nearly every weekend is packed out with events and other commitments between now and December. I’m also trying to fit in as much riding as possible between now and then, so I don’t humiliate myself when I arrive! So it will be challenging trying to stay on top of it all and do well in my exams in the weeks before I leave… I don’t think I’ll have a spare moment to relax until I get on that first plane!

The Joys of Jump Judging

I’ve done a lot of volunteering at events over the years, either before or after my own ride times, or on those disappointing weekends where you’re not in the saddle for one reason or another… you know the ones, where Darling Horse has managed to appear slightly off-colour or sore in the lead-up, just enough to make you question their health and withdraw from the event. Of course, they then end up 110% sound and happy on dressage morning after you’ve scratched. Sigh.

This year though, I’ve tried to fit in a lot more so that I can keep up with all the eventing news and give back to the sport a bit whilst I don’t have a horse to ride. I really miss being out there riding, but helping out is definitely the next best thing. I spent this past weekend jump-judging at Eventing Equestriad in Camden – one of my favourite events on the calendar. The courses are always beautifully built and a bit challenging, and even though they receive masses of entries, they manage to fit everyone in and keep the weekend running with military precision. The VIP tent is always well patronised at Camden – it’s great to see Australian eventing trying to encourage more spectators and supporter involvement.  I’d thoroughly recommend to anyone who is thinking about volunteering to check out this event, because you are always very well looked after… I think I needed to run the cross country course myself to burn off all the snacks and food that was provided to the jump judges!

Cross country jump judging is my favourite volunteering past-time – I certainly can’t complain about soaking up some sunshine and watching all my friends gallop round! You get to see the best and the worst of eventing, from the perfectly ridden lines where horse and rider don’t seem to exert any extra effort at all, to the near misses and catastrophes from those less-than-stellar approaches, horse & rider arguments, or just plain bad luck. You can definitely learn a lot about what not to do!

I was fortunate enough to only have to deal with a couple of minor falls this weekend, with both riders up on their feet immediately and needing no assistance. The serious crashes are certainly the worst part of the job. There’s nothing more chilling than trying to keep a rider conscious while waiting for the ambulance… the dangerous nature of our sport really hits home at times like that. Fortunately, those moments are few and far between, and every event committee does their best to get riders home as safely as possible.

All in all, it was a great weekend, with a number of my friends bringing home ribbons. Huge props must go to Shane Rose who flew back in from England in time to win the 3* and both 1* classes, as well as being an instrumental part of the organising committee!

Check out the wrap-up from An Eventful Life here – http://www.an-eventful-life.com.au/eventing-news/eventing-equestriad-camden-nsw/shane-rose-human-dynamo …

…and the full results here – http://www.nominate.com.au/equest/results/Equestriad_Sept.html .

Unfortunately only a couple of photos from this event – I managed to leave the camera battery sitting on its charger at home, so had to make do with crummy phone photos.

My friend Ali, jumping her way to 1st in her Pre-Novice class with Throsby Park Sonnet

And my friend Bella flying around the 3* on Star Vision