I find myself sitting at my desk, not knowing what word to pick to describe the past 7 months. Unprecedented? Surreal? Forlorn? Maybe even just strange. Regardless, somehow, Dolly and I are back at University. As I write this, we have only been back for 1 day – and yes, things are different, but I am pleased to be back in this setting.
Let’s begin in March. Mid march, the world turned upside down which resulted in being sent home from Uni. In such uncertain times, I was internally thrilled to be going home as the world at that point, was such a scary place. I was home for a total of 7 days before I found myself looking for work. Even a global pandemic can’t keep me indoors apparently! 7 days later I started a full time position as a yard technician at Berkshire College of Agriculture (BCA) – a dream job that COVID could not take from me. In a nutshell, that’s what I have been doing 5 days a week for the past 6 months! Dolly moved to work with me and I can confidently say she is the happiest she has even been – she loved her life there (as seen in the photos below).
The Facilities that BCA offer are exceptional, we were truly spoilt through our stay there. My job role included riding a minimum of three horses per day – sometimes more. horses and ponies ranging from 13.2, 25 year old cobs to 5 year old X – racers. I absolutely love riding everything and anything so really thrived off of this.
Dolly began her lockdown on a jumping ban (college rules). We did 6 – 8 weeks of pure flatwork and hacking, her flatwork came on leaps and bounds over this period which, in turn, has helped her jumping. I remember her first ‘proper jumping’ session after the ban was lifted, she felt incredible (pictures below) and so ready for competitions to start up again.
Our first outing post lockdown was a trip to Attington for some arena cross country – brave I know! Dolly, of course loved it. I could feel she was just happy to be back out doing something different again!
There is a permanent jump course up at BCA, that we took advantage of by having weekly lessons as part of compulsory ‘staff training’. As we were technically working towards ‘nothing’, we just had fun in these lessons doing different things like lines, jump off turns, bigger courses, arena XC and the list goes on…
Before we knew it, competitions were starting up again, so it was important to get out somewhere different to re – familiarise ourselves with things! I hired Cherwell arena and took her for some jump schooling. She was, of course, very well behaved. This made me even more exited to get back out in the ring!
Two weeks later, it was time to compete! Back to Cherwell for the 1.05cm and the Newcomers. Dolly presented a lovely, steady clear in the 1.05cm and and equally nice round in the newcomers to just have the penultimate down due to just switching off a bit towards the end of the round. I really could not have asked for anything els from her that day. And the best thing was, she really felt like she loved it!
Due to work commitments, we then didn’t get back out for another month. We went back to Cherwell towards the end of August to compete in just the Newcomers. Again, Dolly produced a beautiful round but to have just 1 fence mid course after spooking at a very scary sand bag. I have to say, this course was very built up to height and I am so proud of how Dolly handled it. We do seem to be stuck in a bit of a 1 down in the newcomers rut – I’m sure we will come out of that soon! The photos from this show are some of my favourite.
Unfortunately we haven’t made it back out since this but I have out first show planned up here after we complete our quarantine – and I can’t wait. I really plan on getting out and enjoying Dolly as much as possible for the rest of this year (providing the world doesn’t go back into lockdown).
As much as we enjoyed our summer at BCA, I am ready to endure an autumn / winter of training and becoming the best team we can be here at WUC.