Bonnie Fishburn’s blog: A busy Bonnie this summer!

Horslyx Ambassador Bonnie Fishburn has been through ups and downs this month. Read her latest blog to find out what has been going on…

“Since I last wrote my blog I have had some incredible high points and heart-breaking low points. I will start with the bad news. After running Frankie in the CIC* at Brand Hall International, I discovered he had sustained some leg injury. He was sound but I just wasn’t happy with the leg so I got him scanned and he had some suspensory ligament damage.”

“Devastated doesn’t quite describe how I felt, I cried for two weeks. It is now 3 months on and he has been through his boxrest period, been walked in hand and hand grazed and I’ve been back on board walking him out on the road and started trotting. He had his final scan yesterday and the vet is happy for him to go out in the field. He won’t return to flatwork until January and no jumping until the end of February. But he is very well and happy in himself. He’s been treated like a king and had no end of attention from me, so he’s happy. The only plus side for me is that I have amazingly tanned legs from hours of walking in hand and grazing in the sun.”

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“Florence and Percy have had a busy summer of competing in British Riding Club qualifiers and also BE events, with a little bit of British Showjumping thrown in for extra practise. I jumped them both at the beautiful Bolesworth in June and Florence was the star of the show gaining 15th in the Discovery on the first day out of a huge field of 113!!!! Next we had a pretty awesome day at the British Riding Club Area 20 Dressage. Florence did the Novice Riding Test and was a little star scoring our best ever score that even Charlotte Dujardin would be proud off…92.3% for 1st, our Nantwich Riding Club Team also took 1st. Florence then did the Novice 30 and again was beautifully behaved for 75.8% narrowly missing out on the win but picking up 2nd and also our Nantwich R.C Team won. Percy was also in the N30 and apart from getting a little onward bound at times did a lovely test for 70% and picked up 4th. Fancy letting his big sister beat him by over 5%. When he learns to chill out a little he will pick up some super marks. The following day we made a 240 mile round trip to do the BE100 at Milton Keynes. It’s was absolutely boiling but both horses tried really hard and made the journey very worthwhile. Percy did a very smart dressage test for 33, although I was a little disappointed with his score, it actually wasn’t bad in his section. Show jumping he was great, apart from being a touch strong which is his new trick, but a lovely clear. Followed by a bold clear cross country inside the time, good enough for 7th. Florence did her usual correct test and as with Percy I was a little disappointed with 34, especially after her fantastic dressage scores the day before at the riding club qualifiers. She was rather jolly in the Showjumping and actually a little spooky which isn’t like Florence, but I think she was just enjoying herself because she was still clear. A brave girly cross country, clear inside the time, good enough for 4th place.”

“Next was an awesome weekend at the British Riding Clubs Area 20 Horse Trials Qualifier. I rode Florence in the Intermediate (100) and she really was a star from start to finish. A beautiful test for 27.4, followed by one of her foot perfect clear rounds Showjumping and then back to her old self with a confident, feisty cross country round. This left her in 1st spot in a very large section. It was so lucky to win because unfortunately our other Nantwich team members all had problems cross country, so our only hope of qualifying was to win. Next was Percy’s turn in the 100+, our first event over bigger showjumps!!! I had had to change his bridle in the search for some brakes, but maybe did it a phase to early, as it backed him off a little too much in the dressage and we made a couple of basic mistakes like breaking in his canter, but 33.7 wasn’t a bad score by any means. Showjumping my brakes (Mexican noseband) worked perfectly and apart from spooking at a polepicker in the hedge and having the first fence down, he jumped a lovely round. My brakes still sort of failed cross country and by the end of it had go-go-gadget-arms but a beautiful, confident clear was good enough for 3rd spot, without the fence down SJ we would have won, but I wasn’t too worried as our Nantwich Team did us proud and we took first and the National qualification.”

“Our first outing in July was at Stafford Horse Trials both Percy and Florence jumped double clear in their first BE100 Plus. Florence started the day on a 26.5 dressage and she led from start to finish. She gave me one of the best rides she’s ever given me cross country. To win her first ever BE100 Plus was fab!!! Percy had a 32 dressage (could have been a little better if his pilot had remembered to halt at the beginning of the test!!!). He showjumped lovely and I had brakes cross country!! I was trying a new bit with him, because the last few times out I have really struggled for control, but the new bit worked. He wasn’t too impressed that I was in control, so actually went a little green, but still jumped clear for 9th place. Very clever ponies!!!”

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“Then it was onto the last of the Area 20 Qualifiers for the British Riding Clubs National Championships. This time it was Showjumping. Percy had to take on Frankie’s role and jumped in the open which was certainly the biggest tracks he’s ever jumped. I was thrilled to pieces with how he took it on. He had 4 faults in the first round because he slipped on a cow pat!!! Then in the second round he had 2 down, again one due to another cow pat and the other just because he got away from me a bit in a related distance. He showed fantastic promise. The Nantwich team won so we are heading to the Championships. Next was Florence in the Intermediate, she was awesome in all three rounds jumping three perfect clears. Giving the Nantwich team second place and another qualification for the championships. We were supposed to jump off again for individual placings but because we had already qualified we decided not to, as she still had her style class to jump. Florence jumped an impeccable round in the Style Jumping class but we had a really unlucky fence down. We finished 3rd and the Nantwich team won and got another Championships ticket. Delighted that my little team are heading to the National Championships in September in 5 classes in total, we qualified for everything we entered. Its going to be a busy day!”

“Our luck seemed to run out at the beginning of August just in time for the BRC National Horse Trials Championships. On the first day Florence got held at the trot up but was then passed saying I could do the dressage but had to represent to a vet before roads and tracks on the Saturday. She felt absolutely fine in her dressage and did a foot perfect beautiful test for 28 in 100/Intermediate. Percy had got pretty excited by the idea of stabling away but didn’t disgrace himself in the dressage for 33 in the 100+. The next day we had roads and tracks, steeplechase and cross country. Florence did everything very well right up until the second last fence on the cross country, where she jumped very boldly into a combination and just had a little misunderstanding at the skinny, so we had to come again. I was absolutely gutted I hadn’t opted for the long route because she would have stood in a really good position if we had jumped clear. Next up was Percy and just as I set off on the roads and tracks the heavens opened and the thunder and lightning began. We did steeplechase in horizontal rain with electric skies. By the time we got round to the cross country we were liked drowned rats and the ground had gone from being pretty firm to a churned up, slippy mess. Percy really wasn’t enjoying his run but he gave it his best shot. He was caught out at the water which to be fair had caused several problems. It was a drop in, to a fish in the water, run out over a very angled skinny hedge. He had never seen a jump in water before and had a novice run out and then popped as we reapproached but I had no steering coming in to the hedge because I was so wet and had terrible grip on my reins so we ran by that to. I thought considering it was only supposed to be run as a 100+ that fence was a very stiff question. He then continued steadily round the course but still wasn’t enjoying the ground but he jumped all the other questions including the second last fence where Florence had problems. I pulled him up after that one and retired and walked home. All in all a disastrous weekend. I didn’t trot Florence up the next day as we had no chance of a placing having had 20 penalties and I just wanted to go home. I am pleased to say though that I got my vet to check her on the Monday and he said she was absolutely fine, so I’m not sure what was going on in the first vet inspection where we got held.”

“And our second run in August just confirmed that I hate the unpredictable British weather!!!! I took Percy and Florence for their first BE Novice at Bold Heath in Hurricane Bertha. It rained from the time I left home until I’d walked my XC. I had decided that I may as well do at least the dressage and SJ because the SJ was on a surface. Florence did a nice test for 33 and Percy was mainly a good boy but just made a couple of little mistakes for a 38, which I thought was a very harsh mark for how the test felt. And then they both put a seriously big smile on my face by jumping clear round the SJ in their first ever Novice, I was thrilled with the pair of them. The heavens then opened and it poured down for about 20 minutes while I hid in the car and the ponies hid in the trailer. I thought I had better go and look at the ground on the cross country course before i decided if I should run or not but actually it was looking pretty good, so I decided I would give it ago. The course was quite a nice first time novice track with just a few questions but at those questions there were no long routes which I thought was quite tough. I took Florence first and she gave it a really good shot but unfortunately the wind had really got up which was causing the rain to hit our faces like daggers when we were jumping into it and made seeing very tricky. She jumped all the tricky combinations really well but we had a couple of stops at straight forward fences which were both jumping in to the wind, I blame myself for not being 100% committed because I couldn’t see very well, Florence does rely on me to ride her very confidently but I don’t think I rode her as strong as usual. Then by the time I got back on course with Percy the ground had started to cut up a bit so he was jumping a bit bigger then required. At fence 6 which was quite a tricky step up to a hanging long with a drop down to a skinny brush, he just jumped a bit too boldly over the log and I couldn’t keep him straight to the brush, so we had to represent and he popped it fine. He then jumped me clean off at fence 10, just put in a huge jumped and pinged me straight out of the saddle. I think he was a little shook up with losing me and my air jacket going off because when I got back on, at our second attempt he ran out at 10B but then we got going again and just popped our way home steadily. He felt green at the water which was a tough question but was clear. I think it’s safe to say that August had a bad start for us but onwards and upwards, that’ s eventing for us, highs and lows and horses really know how to keep you grounded. But I couldn’t be too disappointed with them at Bold because they had both completed their first novice in not ideal conditions.”

“The following week I decided to go to a British Showjumping Show at Maelor Equestrian, just for a nice outing out with Percy and Florence after having such a rotten time at the start of August. Percy jumped in the 95cm Amateur Qualifier, which Florence has already qualified for. He was awesome and jumped an impeccable double clear for 4th place and a qualification for the second round. Florence then jumped in the Discovery. She was so excited about it and was doing her little dance before she went in the arena. She also jumped a fabulous double clear, in the jump off she absolutely flew but I didn’t do two of the tighter turns we could have taken because I didn’t want to break her stride and risk having a fence down, she finished just 1 second of the leader for 2nd place. I was thrilled to bits with the pair of them and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.”

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“At the end of August I had the most incredible day at Llanymynech Horse Trials. The 10 days running up to the event were far from perfect for me, including two hospital trips, one for a smack in the face which resulted in a sliced cheek and black eye and the other due to a really silly fall on a fun ride, which resulted in being knocked unconscious for 3-4 minutes, an ambulance ride (so very nearly the helicopter but i was too naughty to ride in the helicopter) and a diet of painkillers for 6 days. But we got through the week and made it to the event, where we were doing our second BE novice and the conditions were perfect for us. Both horses were incredible from start to finish. Florence got a 32 dressage, clear Showjumping and clear cross country with 2.4 time penalties. Good enough for 10th and picked up her first big boy point to go with her 114 foundation points. Percy had a 32.5 dressage, a very unlucky 4 faults Showjumping and a clear in the time cross country. Just outside the placings in 11th. I did also pick up the prize for the best riding club member in Florence’s section.”

“The novice cross country test had quite an unusual twist to the results. At fence 7 they had built a new ditch palisade, it was a big rider frightener but they had been nice by giving a pheasant feeder fence at 6, which was about 6 or 7 strides from the ditch palisade. But for some reason it caused no end of trouble and there were some fallers, the last of which didn’t even attempt to take off at the fence resulting in the horse falling in the ditch. The fences 6 and 7 were then taken out and penalties picked up at that fence were removed. I can understand why they felt the need to remove it but it was quite frustrating for us riders that had already jumped it clear, as my two babies had. But I’m not complaining because I’m delighted with the pair of them. It makes me so proud because of the fact they are homebred and produced. Very proud mummy. I just hope our bad luck has passed by now and we can enjoy the rest of the season.”