Monday Motivation

2 years ago today I had a ‘bad fall’ riding cross country in the Intermediate at Little Downham BE. Unlike most falls I couldn’t get up, brush it off and go home feeling frustrated, sore or embarraceded, I was airlifted to Addenbrookes hospital where I recieved medical care that saved my life. Severe traumatic brain injury left me unable to talk, taste, move or process information. I look back now, feel lucky and laugh at the fact post traumatic amnesia meant I can’t remember being re-taught how to do the most basic daily activities.

Doctors repeatedly told me that I would not get back to uni, and I was unlikely to return to the saddle, even in the long run. This set me back, but also gave me a goal – could I prove them wrong!? 2 years later I’ve done exactly that, my KEP helmet and their medical support was essential though. 

3 months after my accident I resumed university (having taken first year exams the week before my accident) and 6 months after my accident I got back in the saddle. The event/dressage season that followed was my most successful to date, which felt like the ultimate reward for all the effort put into my recovery. Never stops believing that anything is possible, dreams do come true! Nova and I finished 3rd at the 6 year old young horse championship, champion at the British Dressage Youth Inter-County and Inter-Regionals, and reserve champion at the Home International, with many more wins along the way.

I have now finished my Business Economics university degree and look forward to focusing on horses; offering livery, lessons and riding as lockdown eases.

2020 so far …

Happy New Year everyone, let’s hope it’s a prosperous one for us all!

2020 has certainly started well for me, Nova has come out on winning form, and Maggie has been progressing up the levels well, jumping clear every time out.

With back to back wins at BD Elementary, Nova will now step up to Medium to match her training at home. Despite her talent on the flat, she made sure I remembered her ability to jump clear and fast as she has also won 3/3 British Showjumping classes this year!

I feel incredibly lucky to be supported by my fantastic team of existing sponsors (Black Nova Designs, DBA Sport, Keratex Equestrian, Profeet Custom) with the addition of KEP hats. I am confident that my purchase of a new KEP hat just before my serious fall in 2018 saved my life. Forever grateful for this, and despite the ridiculous hours I am putting in, happy that I have been able to reach the last 2 months of combining my Business Economics studies with pursuing my equestrian dreams.

This week I look forward to having my younger sister, Kitty, back from 6 weeks away travelling and visiting family in Australia. As many of you know Kitty is an essential member of my team, and will be back helping me step up to the next level, supporting me at 3 affiliated outings in her first week back!

My motivational quote for the moment: happiness is being busy doing the things you love! (n.a)

This week’s venues – Chard BS, Kingston Mauward BD Youth, Bicton BS.

Fantastic form

The busiest time of any equestrian person`s year has continued with great form for my horses and I.

Super Nova has maintained her outstandingly consistent form, finishing 1st or 2nd in her previous 8 runs without a pole all season. At Burnham Market (her first 2*) she showed her incredible speed for a small young horse as we were 1 of 4 horses out of 185 who jumped the track to finish inside the time. On this occasion we finished just behind the winner after a long, but very fun journey with my co-pilots; younger sister Kitty and Greenberry (relative of Willberry the Wonder Pony). With more high percentages and British Dressage Elementary wins alongside a win with 81% dressage at Sapey eventing, I can`t help but be hugely excited to take Nova up the grades next year to help showcase her talent.

It is very rewarding to be able to maintain form across the board – horses of all ages and stages of education have been making great progress and brought in great results. Last weekend saw Belclare Warrior bring home a win, finishing on his 22 dressage for the MacEwan family who have trusted me to help produce their lovely young horse. Alongside this our delightful homebred, Greenhays Midnight Magic did not want to be outshone by her travel partner for the day and after several double clears at BE100 jumped another tidy double clear with an improved dressage test to finish 4th.

When it comes to the young horses that is where I think my approach to training and time given makes a worthwhile difference, benefitting their future careers. I have recently put Tia, a smart 2 year old filly back in the field for a winter break having started the basics and had tack on and done extensive ground work. Homebred Eric (3) followed on showing his bold attitude and has been happily working in different places with tack on and lunging over poles, planks and water trays. When it comes to the ‘older’ young horses I have been hugely impressed by both 5 year old on the yard. Jonogored is hugely relaxed like Greenhays Rufus but has moved on further in his education showing some outstanding flatwork and making 1.30m fences feel far too easy for a young horse that is still developing more power!

As many equestrians know the sport can be challenging but you have to stay motivated and I think a fitting quote for this blog is “you only get back what you put in” Catherine Cox/

Alexa x

Tables Turning

Never did we expect my gorgeous little Super Nova to come up trumps so quickly! I have produced her since a just started 4 year old, and she had 6 months off last year due to my accident. I feel she`s benefitted hugely from developmental time, all-terrain lunging and walking out by hand with me!
We followed our title at Inter-County dressage with bronze at the Inter-Regionals, helping our team hold the champion cup! Kitty also did well given her limited experience with fantastic schoolmaster, Ogue Caviar who I`ve produced after Milly Earnshaw gave him a great start. Just outside the top 10 with 5th on the 2nd day she helped her team claim 3rd out of 42 teams. Next we`ll be off to the Home International in Lincolnshire.
The saying “BETTER NEVER STOPS” is holding true for us at the moment – our busyness has been rewarded by 2nd at Nunney International and Treborough for Nova, before stepping up to Novice at Bicton Arena where we produced a win at first attempt. Something special to celebrate as it was another series of firsts – Nova`s 1st Novice, 1st win and my 1st Novice after my accident. Helen West built a big bold track with technical questions for the level and Nova ate it up making nothing of it!
Equally homebred, Greenhays Midnight Magic has also proved what an exceptional pony she is – 6 years old and consistently jumping double clear at BE100. Bold, brave and careful is quickly being matched with her improvement on the flat which will make her competitive for the higher up prizes.
The next generation have kept the excitement up! I am starting the 2 and 3 year olds this summer with necessary intensities. Meanwhile the ‘big boys’ at 5 have been showing their class on the flat and jumping but are benefiting from being given the time to mature and learn about life through things such as off-road hacking through narrow tracks, low branches, patchy light etc. This will help them become the polite, manageable competition horse we need more of.
The horses will now have a quieter couple of weeks to recover from a busy couple of months!
Next up: Home International, Moreton BE, West Wilts BE.
Alexa x
Inspirational quote:
Life will only change for the better when you become more committed to your dreams than ever before. (My phrasing of a Billy Cox quote)

Inter-County Champion!

Super Nova stole the show with over 90% at the British Dressage Youth Inter-County Challenge. A week later we scored 94% at our squad day in preparation for the next stages, that week I was told we had been selected for the Inter-Regionals at the end of May! Marks are awarded for rider position and effectiveness influencing correct way of going. It’s a fantastic feeling to be awarded like this on a horse I have produced from a weak and undeveloped 4 year old with a summer off due to my brain injury.

To follow this with Nova proving she’s certainly not a ‘one trick wonder’ was extremely exciting. At Bicton May spectacular showjumping she jumped clears up to 1.10m with fast jump offs resulting in winnings and qualification for the 6 year old championship in the main ring where she jumped fantastically. A day later she did another tidy double clear at Pontispool BE100 to finish 5th.

Partner in crime Greenahys Midnight Magic also jumped several clears on a ticket at Bicton and then stormed round Pontispool to finish on her dressage score.
We have had hugely exciting news – Nova and I have been selected for the BD Youth Inter-Regional competition and I have been awarded the Hannah Francis award for my recovery from brain injury and overcoming adversity.

It is very special to be recognised by the legacy Hannah left, she has been a huge inspiration to me. Her positivity helped me realise that you need to make the most of what YOU HAVE not what OTHERS HAVE. My attitude to recovery was shaped around learning and being motivated by Hannah and her achievements. If you haven’t read about or donated to Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony charity, please do.

Milestone Motivation

At the time of my accident last summer, dreams shattered – it looked and certainly felt like there was nowhere to go. That was until I woke up to the fact that dreams can change depending on your circumstances. I may have been hoping to be a British team debutant this year (no longer able to happen) but I am incredibly lucky to have a very talented and trainable team of young horses, most bred by our own Greenhays Stud.

As Storm Trentham, founder of DBA Sports says “Dream, Believe, Achieve”. The latter two were lacking at the early stages of my recovery, step by step they built up and my confidence has grown thanks to the support of family, friends, medics and sponsors. Celebrating the marginal gains along the journey has been essential to help maintain motivation and drive towards significant milestones. Social media has provided a great platform for this.

I also have to thank my four legged friends, who have played a significant part in my journey. Important members of many dreams, their affection and occupation facilitated forward progress. Winning my first competition back and several British Dressage outings after was hugely rewarding, it felt a significant milestone for my recovery. Ogue Caviar has been consistent and Global Super Nova my 6 year old has come on the quickest of any young horse I have produced to date, together we earnt 86% in the BD Youth B squad test. Alongside Kitty and Caviar (who have got to know each other well in a short space of time) we have been selected to represent Dorset at the Inter County Challenge.

Then my gorgeous little homebred, Greenhays Midnight Magic joined Global Super Nova cross country schooling where they quickly had me not able to resist jumping the Novice fences, it felt so easy, making me quick to enter my first event! I couldn’t take the smile off my face as I spoke to Chris and Keith, our South West start box team (a good follow on Instagram and Facebook for eventing fans). Being on a homebred I have produced from the start felt so special, a tidy double clear to finish on our dressage score earnt s 2nd place.

We followed this by taking both mares to our first British Eventing outing after my fall. The weather was good at Bovington, the course well-presented and the mares made the most of it! Two, easy double clears in the BE100 and BE90 meant Nova finished 3rd and Maggie 6th.

I was lucky that I never lost the ‘bug’ but it looks like I’ve had a booster now! Feeling very happy, I look forward to seeing the year since my accident pass shortly and my university exams to finish at the end of May, so our team can make the most of summer.

I hope everyone is having an enjoyable and successful time with their four legged partners.

Alexa X

Next outings:
 BD Youth ICC Bicton Arena 5th May.
 British Showjumping May Spectacular Bicton Arena 26th-30th May.
 British Eventing Pontispool 31st May.