End Of Year Update From Pip Blain

2020… What a year!! 

Hey guys,

Well… what a year it’s been!! The year of COVID 19. It’s been massively different for everyone. For me personally it’s been full of highs and lows and not much in between! It’s made me appreciate everything and all the wonderful people around me so much more.

We had a successful confidence building experience to start the year back at Addington High Profile Show in January. Then heading into the regionals Roo picked up a niggle and we missed them. It was gutting as her preparation had been fab and for once I was going into it feeling like we should be there. Bigger shows at a higher level are new for me, and I struggle a little for confidence at them! I don’t mind riding my tests, but I still find it a little bit surreal riding around people that I used to only watch or read about in Horse & Hound!! The goal for this year had been to do as many bigger shows as I could, gain experience and build confidence!! As they say you can’t replace practise… and then COVID happened… 

Everything show wise for the first half of the year cancelled. BUT it didn’t stop us from being able to train at home. I love training and it was great to have time to really establish and improve the small tour work and start trying some of the things we will hopefully need for big tour!! 

Luckily after an awesome effort from British Dressage, we did eventually have a delayed Winter Championships. We trucked off to Hartpury having only had one outing in the run up. Roo (Donatella IV) was a superstar to finish a close 3rd in the PSG Silver Petplan Final. The training had paid off for sure. She was by far the strongest and most confident she had ever been to ride in the ring.

I was left rueing the two mistakes I made at the end of the test. She felt so good and I went for just a little too much and missed the last change in my 3s. She hates making mistakes and we then followed that up with an uncharacteristic blip on the final centre line. Sack the jockey, one mistake too many and it cost us the sash!!! It was a head in hands moment but with a giant smile also!! The sash had been so so close, but she also couldn’t have tried any harder for me and that is always the best and most important feeling. The sash will come!!

We also finally met Amy who was competing too!! It was fab to finally meet in person and put a face to one of the names behind the amazing team at BETTALIFE. Hopefully same again next year?! I think Hartpury isn’t too bad a half way meeting point!!

Next up came Bury Farm High Profile Show. I’d had an accident in the week building up to the show, it put all the preparation out the window entirely. Thinking I was just incredibly muscle sore, I got taped up and headed off with my superstar of a Dad who did pretty much everything bar ride the tests for me. I could not have made it through the weekend without him.

We rode 2 PSGs and our first ever INTER 1! As she always does, Roo tried her very best for me. The first PSG had a mistake in it, but we had a clean run through our first ever Inter 1 for 67% (!!!) and just missed out on the top 10. The following morning we rode our second PSG and finally cracked the 67% barrier at a High Profile Show in that too!! So for a show that I wasn’t sure that we’d get to, we came home with our international qualifying scores!! Can’t quite believe it. Heading in the right direction!!

It turned out that I was sore for a reason, I’d actually broken several ribs which probably explains why I wasn’t very comfortable riding!! A few ‘quieter’ weeks followed while I started healing. 

With Frodo, we’d been quietly working away at home, building strength and he was really starting to feel so much stronger and more stable in his work. It’s a really exciting feeling. He had an outing between lockdowns where he kicked of his year with a plus 70% novice, before ending up having a period of quiet time after my accident. Unfortunately for him quiet time is never great. He likes to have a busy brain but also struggles with his stifles. The more work he is in and the stronger he gets and the better he is. Needless to say my broken ribs were particularly inconvenient for him!! 

We did get out again at the end of October where he excelled himself in a spooky environment to notch up a few more wins. With 1 more point required for his regional qualification, we had a busy November planned. He has actually only been out 5 times! Although he can be hot, he goes into himself when he is nervous at the moment. He needs a few miles on his belt and he will be away so that was the plan…

Unfortunately, as with the cards that this year has dealt, that plan went awry!! A new horse went through the fence when they were out in the paddocks and poor Frodo took a battering. Despite being a giant, he isn’t so tough!! It was a nerve racking time. He didn’t look so good and spent a month side lined, he was box rested for a period of that and there were concerns of something really not great going on…

Thankfully, 3 weeks down the line he eventually burst a rather nasty abscess!!! I’d never been so relieved to be dealing with an abscess!!! And while the extensive period of time off has done him no favours, I know that we just need to work hard and be patient and he will eventually get back to where he was, before being able to push on again!! Helped along with a little bit of PharmaQuin of course. 

So as I said, massive highs and massive lows but is that always the way with horses?!

I’ve finished on a high, Roo and I rode our second ever Inter 1 last weekend for 72.105% – early Christmas present or what?! And Frodo is on the mend.

This year has been one to make you so thankful for what we have, the people around us and the horses. With all the ups and downs that go with it I’m ultimately just so grateful and privileged to be able to pursue doing something that I love. It’ll be a year to remember for sure!!

Massive thank you to BETTALIFE for all your support and guidance this year. Roo, Frodo and I are so grateful.

Here is to 2021 whatever it may hold. I think it’ll be exciting!

Stay safe and keep smiling!

Pip xxx

pip blog images

Follow Pip, Roo and Frodo’s journey on their Facebook page.

Posted on 23rd December, 2020
Posted in Sponsored Riders

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