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Dan in his element cross country at Wallaby Hill Farm (photo: Peter Shaw)
Pete proving that he can be good at dressage despite finding it tiresome and boring! (Photo: Libby Law)
Wesley demonstrating exactly why I can't bear to part with him.
(Photo: Main Event)
This is what 279 kgs of horse gear looks like...
Horsezone previously featured eventer Laura Wallace in a Five Minutes With... article and we were all excited for her regarding a pending move to the UK, which is happening now!
In addition to her skill with horses, Laura has great talent with a pen (or keyboard!), and is kindly going to provide regular updates for our 'Canter Banter' blog of her overseas adventures. We wanted to give you a taste of what to look forward to, so decided to share this first one in Postcards from the Saddle... Over to Laura!
As some people may realize - I grew up in NZ, and have moved back and forth across the Tasman twice. I rode for NZ as a Young Rider (in 2006, practically the dark ages) and now am aiming for a successful Burghley CCI**** this year with a view to WEG 2014. I am fortunate to have 3 lovely horses, and even more lovely parents who have, despite owning 140 acres of cattle and horse property, completely supported my desire to run off to the other side of the world with those 3 lovely horses.
Sugoi (Pete) is a NZ TB who unsuccessfully steeplechased before being produced as an eventer – first by Lauren Enright, then Amanda Brown before Heelan Tompkins purchased him and took him to Beijing in 2008. It was an amazing stroke of luck that brought him to my paddock and something I couldn’t be happier about.
Pete has an advanced sense of humour, thinks dressage is indomitably boring and has only two speeds cross country – stop and fast. He is also of the opinion that humans were only put on the earth to serve him, preferably with carrots at the time of his choosing.
Sleeping Tiger (Dan) was bred in Victoria, raced in WA (VERY slowly) before being sold to Rob Palm who didn’t have time to work him hence him turning up on my doorstep. I was going to sell him to fund the UK expedition until the day that Sue Hearn said “if you sell this horse I will rip you from limb to limb”. So I managed to convince an owner to buy him for me – one of my better sales jobs.
Dan thinks he has at least eight legs, loves his dressage arena and is a horror to hack out because he is convinced that boogie-men live under all the hedges. He makes up for any bad habits by being Mr Point-and-Kick cross country. At only 5 years old, I can forgive his oddities.
In the process of relocation preparation I have learnt many things – that you always have too much tack (stop kidding yourself, you don’t NEED 25 snaffles), you will change your mind, your competition plans and your truck preferences at least 10 times before coming to a decision, no matter how much you budget no amount of money will never be enough, and getting a visa is worse than being the lead suspect in a murder enquiry.
Starting with gear : my mother – Heather – is the ultimate queen of packing large amounts of “stuff” into the smallest possible places in gear bags. She does however, struggle to understand my obsession with taking every bit that I own and fails completely to fathom why I have 25 versions of a snaffle. This made for continued debate over the necessity of such items. Which I won. Bag count – Horses: 13 bags, five saddles. Laura : four bags, two boot bags.
I have been extremely fortunate to have been offered the opportunity to base and train with Blyth Tait. Which, in my opinion, makes me the luckiest event rider in the world. I now just have to deal with living up to the standard which will be put in front of me which might be a shade more difficult than the decision to base with Blyth.
How is a raven like a writing desk? Similar to how is a visa like a criminal investigation?
I never knew that to get a visa I would be required to submit myself to the kind of scrutiny you would expect from the KGB. But 35 pages and several hundred dollars later, I have a five year visa and that is something that I can be really pleased with.
Competition wise, this year has started very quietly. I started three at Wallaby Hill which was a fabulous event and managed three decent dressage tests, two out of three clear in the showjumping, and all three clear and under time cross country. Two of them even managed to get bows. SIEC followed on and the committee did a spectacular job to produce such good tracks following such atrocious weather. I was pleased with the boys who all went well, though came home without bows.
Following SIEC it rained, rained and rained a bit more, so I abandoned hope of competing anymore and put Dan and Pete into quarantine.
Wesley has been a bit of a conundrum as I am loathe to part with something of his ability but he needed a bit more polish on the flat and I needed money. So I sold him to my mother and then sent him to Nicoli Fife, my second mother and all round amazing rider. I delivered Wesley to Charlton Stud in NZ and into Nicoli’s exceptionally capable hands three weeks ago and in the process bought a horse.
Mythical (Gus) is a super seven year old, immaculately produced by Frank Phillips, and has done one intermediate. He is unfortunately, a redhead. But we will overlook that because he jumps like Pete, moves like Dan and is as quiet as Charlton Ultra. He will head to the UK in June, whereupon I will need to start working 24 hours a day to afford him!
I am now sitting in Melbourne, having been very fortunate to be able to appropriate Alex Townsend’s truck and Blink to drive it here, waiting to get on a plane with Dan and Pete to Heathrow where I will catch up with Mum, Dad and the 128kgs of clothes that they took for me.
The next time you hear from me will be from Gloucestershire…so in the mean time, in the words of my esteemed father “straight, kick, pick up your stick”.
PS: if anyone wants to follow me on twitter my handle is @burwoodeventing.
NB: have just heard from Laura and they've all arrived in the UK safely!