We caught up with Team Animalife’s Suzanne Ashwell, who is based in Kent and competes in two disciplines, mostly BD with some BE on the side. 2018 has thrown up the usual ups and downs every horse rider encounters, and she also has a new horse, Mouse, on the team.
Suzanne feeds Vetroflex and Vetrofen Healthy on a daily basis, plus Vetrofen Intense sachets and a syringe or two of Vetrocalm to take the edge off exciting occasions.
Read on for an insight into Suzanne’s year so far!
The event season starts and despite all the cancellations due to the horrendous weather, thanks to our indoor school and a fortuitous selection of events Super Jack gets two runs: a fitness run at Poplar Park BE90 where he jumps a customary double clear but we take it slow XC to finish out of the placings, and a fifth place on another double clear at Munstead BE90.
It was Princess Betty's turn to sparkle at the BD Winter Championships at Hartpury where she contests the Elementary Silver PetPlan Finals. She dances her socks off, no top ten finish this time but I couldn't have been more thrilled with her.
Jack then heads to Horse Heath BE90 for his final pre Mitsubishi Motors Cup run. Disaster strikes when he trips in the dressage and tweaks something - we withdraw and our Badminton dream is over.
Princess Betty gets her eventing shoes on to cheer me up, and finishes in 8th place at Chilham Castle BE80.
A rather different Badminton to the one I had envisaged, supporting friends on foot while Super Jack stays at home recuperating.
Betty Boo heads up to Poplar Park where she sets me a new dressage record (16.5) and jumps a double clear, finishing second thanks to me taking my foot off the pedal XC and racking up one more time penalty than she had in hand. I couldn't be more thrilled with her performance and it makes the long drive home to Kent feel much shorter.
At the end of May a new face, Mouse, joins the team - Mouse is a 15hh 8-year-old warmblood who has been having an extended holiday in a field, so I persuade my friend to sell him to me to bring back into work as I've always rather liked him.
We now live in a hot country. It's so hot even I lose enthusiasm for competing. Nevertheless Betty Boo and I head to Stratford Hills for some more eventing; she leads the dressage by some way (on a 17, proving Poplar was no fluke) but the notoriously spooky SJ sees her tap 3 poles out. Such was her dressage lead that she starts XC out in front despite the SJ, and I promptly throw it away by incurring time penalties again (this time too fast) to finish 6th.
Princess Betty confirms she likes eventing but dressage is her first love as we take a trip out for some BD, first time since Hartpury and she duly smashes out a +70% score and wins both the Elementary silver and Medium bronze tests.
Princess Betty and I were then, rather excitingly, invited to be dressage guinea pigs for the FEI 2* test at Brightling Park International - warming up next to Tim Price was a surreal experience that I won't forget in a hurry. Unfortunately, the dressage was moved from the lawn in front of the house due to the damage to the grass as a result of the intense heat we've been experiencing.
Mouse is coming along nicely and goes out to a couple of clinics and flatwork lessons.
Princess Betty heads to Crofton Manor for the PetPlan Area Festival Medium Bronze first round. She has her game face on and despite a jockey satnav error finishes 4th and qualifies for the second round. I cross my fingers that she'll secure a third trip to Hartpury...
Fingers weren't crossed hard enough! Madam has a party in her field and gives herself an ouch; vet advises box rest and a careful return to work. Ho hum.
Mouse is going well. In a rash moment of positivity I enter him for an unaffiliated one-day event next month - may as well make his first ever competition a fun one!
Mega Mouse goes eventing - we wobble in and out of the white boards, ogle at the tents around the SJ arena, and canter sedately around the XC in the manner of a dressage horse having a picnic. Somehow we get a reasonable dressage score, escape with one down SJ and go clear XC to finish 8th! Gobsmacked. Field to eventer in 11.5 weeks from first sitting on him after a 2-year break.
A big month for Mega Mouse, currently the only competing pony in the stable... Another UA ODE this time at Chilham Castle where he finishes 5th (double clear, much improved dressage). BD debut where he wins his Novice Silver class, and on to Munstead for his BE debut which started well with his first sub 30 dressage, continued well in the SJ for one down, and felt great XC right up until the ditch where he wanted to check for monsters and took a little longer than allowed in a competition. Lots of promise for the future!
XC schooling in last weekend's downpour confirmed he's fine with ditches, just needs to build his confidence in a competition environment - so we have entered Tweseldown next month, watch this space....