Laura Barber’s Blog: Hard ground doesn’t stop the hard work!

We caught up with our Badminton graduate Laura Barber (we are still buzzing about this!) to see how her summer has progressed, and what’s new since she and Tally took to the hallowed course! “Wow it seems like such a long time since I last wrote one of these – I would love to say lots of exciting things have happened but I guess when your last blog was about competing at Badminton Horse Trials sadly nothing can really compare, although Tally and I have certainly still been very busy!”

“At the start of June we headed off for our first visit to Little Downham BE100. What a fantastic event and so nice and compact too (my long suffering Mum definitely appreciated this!). I hadn’t had the best week of preparation as my labyrinthitis had flared up leaving me very off balance and I wasn’t feeling on top form. Tally did a very sweet dressage test which I was pleased with – sadly we were the first ones in the arena and I think the judge started off a bit harsh – we were given a 37 and the next 10 horses all had higher marks than us… it looked lovely on video but that’s dressage for you! Tally then went on to jump very well for just one down SJ and some time XC. I very nearly didn’t jump as I was so exhausted after the dressage but I’m pleased I pushed on as it was great to have another technical BE100 under our belts.”

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“The following week saw us head to Keysoe for our Riding Club Area Horse Trial qualifiers. I was really hopeful for a return visit to the championships; however it was not to be as I felt the ground was too hard to risk my boy XC. Tally really doesn’t like hard ground so this time of year is always going to be difficult, but I’d always rather be sensible and come home than risk an injury.”

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“With this in mind we took a bit of a break from eventing for the next month. We spent some time Show Jumping, gaining our first double clear straight in at Discovery – it was a bit of a shock to the system having twice as many fences to jump than for BE! We’ve had a couple of trips to our local gallops to keep to fitness levels up, and I also decided to have some intensive dressage lessons with both my old instructor (who we haven’t seen for over 4 years) and another instructor who specialises in rider biomechanics. I found both of these really interesting and picked up some useful tips both for my position and competition warm ups. The resounding message from both instructors is that Tally needs to do more in order for me to afford to do less – it turns out I’ve carried him for far too long, time for him to do some of the work!!”

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“I’ve also spent some of my time helping set up a brand new Riding Club – Milton Keynes RC, together with some other hard working liveries. We have just been affiliated with British Riding Clubs which is really exciting and we are looking forward to hosting our first clear round show in a few weeks. We’ve had lots of interest from riders in the local area so hopefully we’ll be able to provide lots of opportunities for riding, competing and socialising going forward.”

“On Wednesday we were back eventing at the beautiful Upton House Horse Trials and I was thrilled to see how much work they’d put into their ground – the XC was even spongey in places! We had late times and the afternoon really heated up – Tally warmed up well but went a bit lazy in the arena for 37 (again!) and just rolled an unlucky pole SJ (again!). Although we still can’t quite manage to perfect all 3 phases in one day, I’m pleased to report that he was fantastic round a seriously hilly XC, feeling very confident and really enjoying himself, which is what it’s all about.”

“August is looking a bit busier on the eventing front and hopefully we have a few exciting things in the pipeline (although I won’t jinx by sharing just yet!). For now I’m off to Paris next week for our first wedding anniversary where unfortunately there won’t be a horse in sight… much to my Husband’s delight!!”