With all the horses going brilliantly and an exciting season coming up fast, the last thing I needed was a broken collarbone to stop me from riding or writing. Things being how they are, the next couple of blogs come courtesy of ‘speech-to-text’ software as my right hand lies limp and supported by a fetching blue sling.
December may be the last month in the year, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t just as eventful as the rest of 2019. My sister came back from Canada and, during the two weeks she was home, we managed a trip to London and a couple of trips to the cinema too. While in London, we saw five shows on the West End and went to the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland where I won a soft plush toy – which I gifted to the horses as a sacrifice upon returning home. The whole trip was brilliant and a highlight for me was watching Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock that featured a cast of talented children who could not only sing, dance, and act, but also played their own instruments live at every performance. In between shows, we went Christmas shopping for our family, and I showed my true colours in an expensive jewellery store by mistakenly calling it ‘Swarkovski’, buying one of the cheapest figurines, and asking if they offered a student discount! They did not but, come Christmas day, granny loved the crystal baby rabbit we eventually decided on.
London at night.
One day during December, I decided I hadn’t taken Marcus Aurelius (Aurelian x Fiesta Magica) or Avonbrook Odin (Marcus Aurelius x April) jumping for quite a while so we took them to our local competition venue of Allens Hill for some unaffiliated show jumping. After winding up some of the horses in the warm up and looning around in the 90cm, we decided to enter Marcus for the 100cm; a height he hasn’t jumped in about 10 years. The jump-off was 110cm and very full up so I was a little apprehensive about whether he could manage the whole course, but I needn’t have worried. Apart from the first 110cm fence that he kicked out with a foot, Marcus flew around the course and posted the fastest time of the class – only relegated to 4th because of the fence down. Odin, naturally, cruised around without touching a pole and won the class! At his last two shows he’s had a win from both, I don’t know if that’s more telling of his consistency as a showjumper or of how little he gets to compete during the winter.
Marcus Aurelius jumping in the 100-110cm (c) Rowena Bertram
Another of the horses who has managed to get out and about this winter is Sammy – Audace Encore (Marcus Aurelius x Avonbrook Green Rose) – who we took for his first show jumping practice at Gracelands Equestrian Centre on Christmas Eve. Sammy considered this an early Christmas present and thoroughly enjoyed following his brother Robbie – Avonbrook Silver Eagle (Marcus Aurelius x Caveland Calypso) – over a course of fences. As well as having the potential to become a top endurance horse, Sammy has the jump and technique of a future eventer too. His temperament is very sweet and he’s a very smart young stallion, so his future looks very bright at Avonbrook Stud.
Four-year old stallion Audace Encore having a fuss and a cuddle after his first showjumping outing. (c) JH Photography
Penny – Annia Aurelia (Marcus Aurelius x Bint Zaehaebi) – also looks to have a bright future ahead of her. She has been learning to jump in preparation for our first British Eventing season in 2020 and is thoroughly enjoying our lessons where we seem to make huge amounts of progress with every session. Her jumping technique has improved immeasurably, and we are excited to see where the coming years take us. She is more than capable of jumping BE100’s and we plan to spend the winter and spring introducing her to all different kinds of cross country jumps.
Annie Aurelia jumping in a lesson. (c) Rowena Bertram
One of my aims in life is to never be admitted to A&E during December. Sadly, with three days of 2019 left, I failed. After an incredible session at Attington XC where we jumped a huge variety of fences, Penny stumbled on landing over a large fence, fell, and rolled on top of me. It was a perfect storm of tiring muscles, no knee rolls on her show saddle, slightly unlevel ground, and sheer bad luck, but we both hit the floor hard and she was very good to avoid me as much as she could. It was just one of those things, a complete accident, but it left me with a broken collarbone and my right arm in a sling for several weeks. Watching the video back, I was very lucky not to have sustained anything worse and thankfully Penny was fine, but it does mean I’ll be out of the saddle for all of January and probably some of February too – how frustrating! Luckily, with the help of my trainer and some friends, the horses will stay in work during my absence so it’s only me taking an unintended holiday. A bigger problem will be my university work as I cannot write or type with any speed or effectiveness. Although I’ll be fine to sit my exams in May, I am currently using a computer programme to turn speech into text which I might have to use for my dissertation and coursework assignments. As for my first British Eventing season, it feels over before it’s even begun but, depending on my exams and how well the collarbone heals, I should be back for the second half of the season. For the next few weeks, however, all I can do is wait.
Annia Aurelia at Attington XC – warning, Katherine’s fall is at the end of the video.
Lead photo – Katherine’s very broken collar bone.