“We’ve competed in five BE events this summer and came home with five top 10 placings”

Sarah Johnstone reflects on her season highlights with Woody back out eventing!

It’s safe to say that winter is (un)officially here. The heavens have opened, the temperature has dropped and there is mud EVERYWHERE! 
Super Cob has been enjoying some post-eventing time off while I enjoyed a rare holiday with my long-suffering NHOH (non-horsey other half), topping up our tans and reaping the benefits of the all-inclusive wine! I kissed my sleek eventer goodbye, but returned to find a chubby, scruffy bog pony in his place! However, we are now back in work, attempting to lose the belly and excited about winter training and competing. 
As most of you will remember, Woody had some of 2017 and the whole of 2018 off due to a fairly severe tendon injury, so my aim this year was to simply complete the season with a sound horse. With this in mind, I played it fairly safe and stayed at BE100 as I didn’t want to push him for the fitness work needed to move back up to Novice. 
Having not evented for 20 months (aka an eternity) I had assumed that Woody might have been slightly excitable to be back on the scene, but it seemed he had matured dramatically during his time off. From the moment he set foot out of the lorry at his first event he has been cool as a cucumber, except perhaps during the countdown from five in the start box!
We’ve competed in five BE events and one unaffiliated event this summer, and not only did we achieve our goal of staying sound (woo hoo!), but we also came home with five top 10 placings, two double clears and all six cross country rounds were flying clears within the time. What a horse! 
I thought I’d share with you a couple of my highlights, the first of which was my show jumping round at Warwick Hall. We don’t have a terrible show jumping record, but it’s never been a phase I felt comfortable in. However, after working hard on it during the spring, this show jumping round was the first time I really felt confident and in control. I stuck to my rhythm and waited for the fences to come to us rather than panicking and chasing him on, which paid off for a lovely clear round. 
My stand-out cross country round was our final run of the season at Frenchfield. He had a real presence in the warm-up with enthusiasm radiating out of him as his stride got longer and longer. Out on the course, he met every jump on the perfect stride and motored up the hills. I grinned all the way around and finished even more proud and in love with my pony then ever (if that’s even possible). 
I’m so lucky to have such a chilled out but enthusiastic partner in crime who loves eventing just as much as I do – it makes for a fantastic day out! Roll on 2020!

Catch up on Sarah's last blog here!