My name is Susy Stark and I am a twenty four (almost) year old based in Berkshire. I work at a busy riding school, teaching a variety of people of all abilities and ages to ride. I am a BHS AI and hold my BHS Stage IV, but am always looking to expand my knowledge and experience.
But enough about me; this blog for Aspire is about my journey with my horse into the competitive world. Firstly, let me introduce my horse. Formally known as Tymor Del Piero, and affectionately known as Otis; he is a 16hh bay Welsh Section D. Otis was bought for me when I was seventeen and he was eighteen months old, and our long and steady journey began together. I backed Otis myself slowly around my A-level exams and exposed him to as many stimuli as possible, with no specific goal or discipline in mind.
By the time he was four it was apparent that there was no way he could successfully compete in the showing world. Already touching sixteen hands, and being of a rangy build judges barely looked at him. He was also still quite immature and ungainly in himself. Friends often joked that he was a giraffe. As I began my training in the equine world I began to look at other alternatives for Otis`s career.
Obviously as a four year old he had barely jumped and was green as grass in the cross country field, so I went down the dressage route. I thoroughly enjoyed the twelve months I spent focusing solely on his flatwork, and we competed at local competitions very successfully at prelim and novice level.
As he grew older, bigger and stronger, I started to introduce jumping, and by the time he was five I was hooked by the idea of eventing. Yet to compete in an event, I focused on getting the basics right in each area and towards the end of 2011 we entered our first one day event. It was a local affair and only 2`3”-2`6” in height, but even so we came second. I was over the moon, and my dream of eventing Otis came within grasp.
The next year we struggled with transport, my injury, and gathering more experience (particularly in the water complex department) and confidence. After a change of jobs I became acquainted with some more eventing enthusiasts who provided me with the contacts to start entering events. Last year with Otis aged seven and all grown up, we began eventing in earnest. I started at pre-intro level, but as it went smoothly I quickly moved up to Intro level, where we performed consistently over the season, ending on a high in eighth place at our last event.
I went away with several tasks for the winter months, and have focused on improving our dressage – culminating in an elementary class a couple of weeks ago – and increasing Otis`s fitness and stamina. He has now matured and I feel confident in his ability for the 2014 season.
So what are my goals for 2014?
Firstly, I aimed to improve our dressage so that we were competent in Elementary classes. Secondly, I aim to move up to Pre-Novice level this season. I may end up having to compete in a combination of BE90 and BE100s due to work commitments, but I want us to have a couple of successful runs at the higher level under our belts by the end of the season. I have already partly achieved my goal of stepping up to Elementary level and will continue to intersperse the eventing with unaffiliated dressage competitions. The first event (BE90) is entered for the beginning of April – I enjoy eventing and am not a professional, so didn`t want to rush our fittening and have a problem by entering a March event with uncertain conditions, so aimed for an April start. At this event I`m planning on walking the BE100 cross country course to get my eye in, with the thoughts of trying the higher class next time. I`ll also try to use my free weekends to jump round higher showjumping courses in preparation.
I hope that you will enjoy reading about our competitive career this season on Aspire blog.
You can read Susy’s own blog over at The Rubber Curry Comb or follow her on Twitter @suse717