Sydney CDI 2015

Ok, I haven’t posted about this years Sydney CDI yet. So much goodness happened with the most amazing result being that my favourite mate Toby won the FEI Medium Tour Freestyle!

Now we've unpacked, washed everything, downloaded, drank champagne to celebrate, ate lots of amazing chocolate mud cake, slept a bit at last, given the horses a walk on the lawn, many carrots given, horses doing much buck farting now they’re back home in their paddocks and big stables. Everything is back to normal. We’ve checked the hen house (Ingrid Birdman and Oprah doing well and good egg count - high five ladies), and farewelled our beautiful companions Caitlin and Sharni Radford back to the Apple Isle.

Many of you who have followed my posts know that I lost my best mate big Teddy early this year. I still feel this loss like a hole you can’t fill. There are many of you that have had terrible losses at the end of last year and the beginning of this one but I think this year will be better.

I can say this because I’ve been lucky enough to witness some great things recently. For starters this year’s Sydney CDI was supercharged for a lot of us, for a lot of different reasons. But what I saw was riders, coaches, trainers, owners and supporters coming together. I saw everyone supporting each other, regardless of which state we were representing. I saw people on the sidelines cheering their opposition, because the work was good. Thank you so much Toni Venhaus,Cathie Drury Klein and Trevor Klein, Karen and Graham Lever and everyone else in your inimitable team of volunteers that built this event for many years and made this Sydney CDI the most easygoing, rider friendly yet professional, challenging and brilliant event.

So who says young horse competition stars don’t go on to greater things? I think the stunning Diamond Star (GP Freestyle winner), Don Rubin (Medium Tour Freestyle winner), CP Dresden (Advanced Freestyle winner and Don Rubin’s little bro) plus all the other place getters in the top 5 in pretty much every class would prove otherwise. So great to see that the trainers, breeders and riders in Australia are achieving such amazing results.

Caitlin and Sharni made the trip up and borrowed two horses so generously offered by my super groom and assistant trainer Antoinette Lorimer and my great friend Philippa Mitton. With only 5 rides on these very different but lovely horses Cait achieved fantastic results in her Grade 4 Para Equestrian tests achieving 2nd and 3rd place against much more experienced and established combinations. Cait’s attitude is always "can do" and I have to remind myself constantly that she is only 16 as she has maturity and determination that is amazing. She also has a truly wicked sense of humour like mine and I count her as one of my best friends in the world. So proud of her!

We farewelled Annie’s pony Bella too, very sad for all of us, but she has arrived safe and sound in her new home in WA and we are assured that she will have the best home ever and we can’t wait to hear news from across the Nullabor about her new adventures from her new Mum Amy Ross.

Now back to me! The young horses performed to the best of their ability and produced calm, obedient and honest tests. They did us proud and I couldn’t have asked more from both Callum Park Radcliffe and Callum Park Starbucks. They have been brought along every step of the way so carefully and we are really proud of how they have developed into such lovely competition horses and kind men about town. Radcliffe has just had his first elementary start with Annie yesterday (who is still a young rider) and he did a fantastic job especially as he is still growing and only a very babyish 5 year old. Starbucks is already doing medium and training the PStG and has just turned 6! He has been ridden by Cait here a few times now and I’m so proud of how he looks after her though he is only a baby himself. Good job boys xxx

The absolute star as always is Don Rubin. It seems like every time I post I say how he’s amazed me with his incredible results, but this time I’m floored. He is now at the level just under the Big Tour, the newly developed Medium tour with piaffe, passage and one time changes being introduced. This is really the pointy end of my sport and it’s so exciting to have developed my favourite being in the whole world into a grown up Grand Prix dressage horse. He is the first horse we bred at Callum Park, and was pretty dorky for a long time, but wow has he grown up.

He did great Inter A and B tests, despite not having a suitable warm up or arena familiarisation (actually… he had none!) as he developed a last minute hoof abcess and could only be hand walked! For Ferrari, I mean Toby, who requires a heap of riding and familiarisation as he is a hot little tamale this was the worst prep ever but we just had to deal with it. He was a bit tense in the first test but settled nicely for the next one. We then tried out our new freestyle in the big scary outdoor.

I’ve used the same music that suits him so perfectly but changed the choreography completely to include piaffe and passage and his excellent one and two time flying changes. Some last minute adjustments with help from Annie to include a really cute two time to one time change sequence perfectly in time with the musical changes (that just makes me smile every time) and we were ready to rock, well…waltz!

It was one of those tests where it just flows and despite a few little mistakes when Toby got a bit worried and lost focus for a second but we held the lead from the start (we were first horse to go) and as every talented and outstanding combination rode I assumed they would pip us. But incredibly… we WON! Standing on the podium on what felt like the wrong side with no one on our right was an amazing feeling. The riders in that class are each and every one a superstar and it was an honour and privilege to be counted amongst them, let alone be victorious in their company. Their sincere congratulations was humbling and what a classy group of riders they all are. I’m not sure what could trump this feeling and I will be sleeping with my FEI Medium Tour Freestyle Champion Sydney CDI 2015 rug on my bed like a Pony Clubber for a long time I feel!

Yesterday we did our first Inter 11 competition and it went really well. We are only doing calm and quiet tests until Tobington is established and confident, but I know there is a heap more in him. It was a significant moment as I was competing in the same class as one of my greatest friends in the world Rebecca Walshe and her divine mate XL Overtime. We’ve both kept an eye on each other as these horses of ours have developed from scatty little hot and scared 4 year olds into the grown up Grand Prix dressage horses they are now. It’s a huge journey and it was a moment to stop and take stock of how far we’ve all come. So we had a walk around the cross country course (can you imagine - me OUT of an arena?!) and a couple of Champagne’s later on ;D

Once again I have to say thanks to may sponsors and great friends at Equissentials. Jacquelyn Dixon I wouldn’t be here without you and your unwavering support, help and advice. Our team always look amazing thanks to your products and clothing range but it’s the emotional support I value the most! Besides that your products are the best quality and you don’t charge enough for them which is great for paupers like us and most people with horses!

Hiscocks saddlery in Queanbeyan have recently come on board with us at Callum Park and their Carl Hester range of the PDS saddles that we now use are, it must be said, GAME CHANGERS. The improvement in my position, the ability to really sit into the horses back and better communicate, and the horses physical well being and ease with which they can perform has been DRAMATIC. They are beautiful to ride in besides, and provide stability without locking you in, you can use them for the 4 year olds right through to the Grand Prix horse and they are even adjustable, which I love. Yesterday I even stayed on a little bucking/capriole/spinning whilst in air excitement fest delivered by a 4 year old and looked good doing it (apparently!). I LOVE THEM!! Thank you Karen Skimmings and the team at Hiscocks XXX.

Finally, talking about game changers, the team at Kohnke’s Own have been helping us for about 6 months now. In that time we’ve had an unprecedented amount of success with all our horses and I don’t think that that’s a coincidence. We were always feeding our horses top end feed and supplements but since we’ve changed to using the Konhke’s Own products they all look and feel great, the mares and foals hold their weight better and have all gone a much darker coat colour and look fantastic. The performance horses, breakers right through to Grand Prix horses are strong, healthy and fitter than they’ve ever been. Funny story - the team have produced a new vitamin and mineral supplement called Cell Perform tailored for the high end performance horse. We received the first bucket of this ever and we gave Toby the first scoop of this the night before he won the Freestyle! What a product! Of course Mag E is a barn staple, to keep everyone calm and relaxed, Muscle XL has seriously made a massive difference to Toby’s top line, Energy Gold IS gold, and importantly, Nutricart for long term joint health is on the daily menu here at Callum Park. Thank you so much to everyone at Kohnke’s Own.

So that’s the latest novel about the goings on at Callum Park.