Allerton Park Horse Trials 2019

After what has been a hectic couple of weeks, I have finally gathered my thoughts and come to terms with the 2019 season and how it came to a crashing (literally) end. My ultimate goal at the start of this season was to qualify for 4* and finish the season on an advanced, so even though this write up isn’t as positive as I would have liked I can’t express enough how pleased I am that I managed to do both of these things this season with a horse that I absolutely adore.

I have had an amazing 2019 season with lots of things to learn from and celebrate, I was so excited to have a go at my first advanced. I am quite a nervous person with little self-confidence, so being excited to move up a level was a new feeling to me. But I was doing it with a horse that I knew would fly round and after the amazing result at Blair Castle, coming 2nd 0.6 off the winner, I couldn’t be anything but confident. My preparation for the advanced at Allerton was the best it could have been, Gatsby was feeling amazing with only the dressage to worry about, being the most difficult test I have ever done and Gatsby not really knowing how to do a flying change without exploding with excitement!

I went to walk the course on Saturday night and to meet up with Amy and the team at Betta life to have a catch up. I was surprisingly happy with how the course walked, there were a few fences I knew I would have to be on the ball for and a few that I was worried I wouldn’t have the best of control to get through the flags. Overall, I was very happy and quietly confident.

When Sunday morning came, I was so glad I had plaited up the night before as I pulled a very brown looking Gatsby out of bed at 6am meaning he then had to have his 3rd pre event bath before we set off. We still managed to get there in good time and warm up for the dressage with minimal poo stains thanks to my trusty groom Jess. Dressage couldn’t have gone better, in my opinion, despite a few excited moments that the judge didn’t quite like, I was pleased with it. I asked everyone who had come to support me that day to not tell me the score so I could continue being confident, as perfectionist me wouldn’t have been happy with any score over a 35 at that point.

Showjumping also went well, Gatsby was an absolute star and he was jumping out of his skin. I did my usual warm up of one cross pole, one small upright, an upright up to height and a square oxer up to height. We went in the ring and I felt confident and happy, I got to fence 9 on the course (the triple) before I realised how high the jumps actually were and my nerves kicked in. This resulted in a few too many half halts so I got too deep into a couple of fences meaning I had 2 poles down. I was still really happy with how he was going.

Then it came to cross country, after the showjumping I felt happier with how we were jumping so I wasn’t as nervous. He warmed up well and before I knew it we were in the start box, usually this is the scariest part of any cross country course as Gatsby cannot contain his excitement. He was very good this time though, and the first part of the course was amazing, he was forward and pulling me into some very uninviting fences. We were up on the time too, but I think the increase in pace we had due to going up a level un-nerved us both a little and he got quite deep into fence 7 and 8, I had to try push him on back into a good rhythm before a difficult combination at fence 11. I thought we had got our mojo back after he skipped over the next few fences with lots more confidence, coming into fence 12a, a brush fence that was coming out of the woods with a substantial drop on the other side and a skinny after, he pulled me in with what I thought was a perfectly confident canter. I saw the skinny on the other side as we took off and was ready to turn to it when I felt my head hit the floor. All I can remember is sitting up and seeing Gatsby flat on his back trying to get up. He had landed too vertical causing his backend to come ahead of his front and his legs just couldn’t take the weight on landing, so he collapsed.

This all sounds quite dramatic but thankfully me and Gatsby only sustained minor injuries that will easily mend with a bit of rest. Mentally I feel happy and confident as it was just another fall for me and I’m not the best at staying on so I’m pretty use to those! I am disappointed to say the least that I didn’t get to finish my first advanced, but I couldn’t be prouder to have such an amazing horse that tries his heart out for me every time we go out and no fall or bump in the road will change that.

Both Gatsby’s condition this season and aid to recovery after the fall is down to BettaLife and their supplements, ParmaQuin keeping his joints as supple as possible and the PharmaPlast maintaining his muscle coverage and top line even when he is having a little time off. I couldn’t be more grateful of the support that the team at BettaLife have given me this season and I would recommend their supplements to anyone wanting to get their horses performing and looking their best!

That’s it for me for 2019, now for a well-earned rest and some time to think about how we can improve our training at this new level for next season. Bring on 2020!

Victoria Wilson

Team BETTALife®

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