Cara Shardlow – A British trip to France

So after our amazing trip to HOYs it was only a week before we set off to France, I was supposed to be traveling and sharing costs with Emma Jablonski, so it was going to be relatively easy driving to Emma’s in Sheffield getting on her lovely lorry and off we go….or so I thought, unfortunately the Monday before she rang to say her horse was not right and could not go! I was gutted poor Emma for starters I really felt for her but how was I going to get there and afford it on my own.

I just could not cancel going, you never know when these opportunities will come up again so it was a mad panics to get my lorry ready to go, putting lashing points on for the ferry etc. I have to say a huge thank you to my Dad and Mum who dropped everything and sorted it, also arranging the travelling, ferry etc, I could not have gone with out their help.

Next problem was me driving there, I’d never driven a car abroad let alone a horse box so to say I was a little worried about a 6 hr drive from Calais across France to Le Mans was an understatement!!!

We set off on the Tue morning for a 7 hr drive to Dover where we would stay overnight to catch a ferry early Wed morning. Detonator has a habit of pulling shoes off just before he goes to a comp, it’s the only time he ever does so I was feeling rather smug that I had got him on board with 4 shoes on. I unloaded him at the stables in Dover gave him a little wander round and a bit of grass and to my horror he stepped forwards and pulled a shoe off, with overreach boots on!!! It was 5 pm at night and I didn’t want to travel to France with no shoe as he can bruise his soles easily and the thought of him been lame when I arrived was not good. Thanks to my brilliant farrier he managed to get a farrier to me and the shoe back on with a sound horse with in an hour!!

We were up at 4am on Wed and the nerves were building for our first ferry journey, it was only an hour and a half  and he was brilliant stayed very settled. So off we went to drive to Le Mans, the roads were much quieter than over here fortunately and it was not too bad and after getting a little lots at the end we made it in one piece, I’m still shocked I managed to do it even now!

We had the trot up on the Thursday which he bounced his way through fully recovered from his travelling!! I worked him that day in the arena we would be competing in and he was very buzzed up possibly after HOYS and never really settled, I was a little worried but for the next day.

So we had the PSG on the Friday and he was so hot and strong warming up, I tried everything to get him settled but nothing really worked, even taking his boots off was a nightmare, very unlike him. So off we went into the arena, I had to be so careful especially in the walk where he tried to spin in a pirouette away from the crowd. Then he went to do medium canter in the 4 x changes but we just managed to salvage it. I was a bit disappointed but to be fair a score of 65% with mistakes was not too bad. The standard was so high and there were just under 40 horses in the small tour from all over the word so to be 21st was pretty good.

Saturday was the Inter 1 which we usually do better in, he was more settled and I was able to ride him and push for more, with a mistake in the 3 x changes we finished on 66.50% still off our best but I was very pleased to finish 18th. Unfortunately we had to be in the top 15 to do the Kur on Sunday so with a few dropping out we were next on the list but sadly no one else did.

We decided to travel home a day earlier which in hind sight was a good thing, if we had done the Kur we would have had to travel through Calais on the Monday they cleared the migrant camps which would have been horrible.

We arrived home on the Monday morning safe and sound. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, it would have been lovely to have done our usual consistent mistake free tests but to hold our own against world class horses was just fantastic. Competing for Great Britain is a total dream come true and I have to keep pinching myself to remind me that I have done it on my home produced horse. We have come up through the grades together and he is taking me on a journey I never dreamt we would be doing. I know these things don’t last forever and will just make the most of every moment while I can.

A huge thank you to everyone at home that supported me financially to get out their, a client of mine Wendy Bulmer did a fantastic job of raising funds for me to travel. Lets hope we get chance again next year.