On Hartpury’s mechanical horse

April started with a trip to Hartpury for my Diploma in Sporting Excellence. Aslan was supposed to join me but he as grounded by a nationwide ban on equine travel due to an outbreak of equine flu. Nowhere near us thankfully and the travel ban was soon lifted so off I went on foot with all the other riders. I did get to ride though, but not quite what I was expecting. The paces weren’t as big as Aslan’s though and I even managed to nail the sitting trot! It was another great session at Hartpury though and I am really glad I am doing the course, and hopefully I will get to take Aslan next time.

I was hoping to be back competing this quarter, but there was not much opportunity having missed the option to compete at the Summer Gold Championships due to Aslan’s rehab. Training was going well for us both though, but as we progressed I could see that we had a long summer ahead of us before we were able to start building towards the Winter Nationals.

Training through the Spring going from strength to strength

It wasn’t all hard work though as with the pressure of preparing for competition dialled down a bit we also had more time than usual to hack out and pace ourselves as we build ourselves back up to full fitness. As you can see we are very fortunate to be able to hack out in the woods near us rather than having to spend too much time on the road.

Hacking out in the woods

There were plenty of other things to worry about too as I completed Year 12 and prepared for my final year of A Levels. First opportunity was to sign up for a Master Class in History and Politics at the University of Cambridge. I am thinking of studying combinations of Law, History and Politics so this was a great opportunity to learn a bit about life in Cambridge and experience what the History and Politics course was like. It was an absolutely inspirational experience and I think I fell in love with it a bit too much including Cambridge itself. So all I have to do now is get an offer to study there and get the grades… nothing quite like setting yourself a challenge!

Visiting the University of Cambridge for a Masterclass in History and Politics

Training continued as usual but I do wonder looking back how I could have fitted in competing, as well as preparing for end of year exams and beginning to explore my University options. It takes some determination to keep on training week in week out when you know that meaningful competition is still a long way off and there is so many other tthings going on.

After training in the colours of my SportsAid sponsor The Royal Bank of Canada

In May I was very fortunate to be invited at a Bucks Sporting Lunch organised by SportsAid Eastern at Eton Dorney where England Rugby World Cup Winner Simon Shaw was the special guest. We are a really passionate rugby household and the Six Nations is always an exciting time in our house, so it was amazing to meet Simon and learn from his experiences over lunch together. My Mum is Scottish, my Dad is Welsh and we live in England where both my brother and sister play for local English teams! I didn’t share with Simon who I support and I am not going to declare it here, but you can probably work it out from my posts on social media!

At Eton Dorney with my Mum and Simon Shaw and the SportsAid Eastern sponsored athletes

Mum joined me for lunch and I was very grateful to receive a grant from Jansons Property who chose to sponsor me through SportsAid Eastern. I cannot explain enough how grateful I am for support like this. Not only does the grant help offset the costs of a very expensive sport, the recognition also inspires me to work harder to achieve my goals.

I also go the chance to be interviewed on stage by the SportsAid Chairman Mark Omerod which I really enjoyed. This is another benefit of SportsAid funding as you get the opportunity to develop in all sorts of ways that benefit your sport and your overall personal development.

SportsAid Eastern also did a great job of published a video of the event which you can see below and on YouTube so thank you again Jansons Property and all the other Sponsors and Supporters!!

SportsAid Eastern Bucks Sporting Lunch with guest of honour Simon Shaw

June saw my first University open day, no better way to get it to sink in that I have a massive year ahead with A Levels at the end of Year 13. My first trip was to Bristol in the rain which was still fantastic, followed up by Warwick, a trip back to Cambridge with Bath and Loughborough next in line. It is really difficult to compare anywhere to Cambridge, but every lecture I attended at every university made me more and more excited about the prospect of going to Uni, and while it is starting to feel very real, it’s also still more than a year away.

Open day at University of Warwick

Soon afterwards it was time for a home visit from my DiSE mentor Claire Moir to catch up on my coursework and training. We usually start with a yard visit and training session on Aslan, followed by a couple of hours back home afterwards going through where I am and what I have achieved in training since our last session together, and building the credits towards my my course online. This includes ridden work and and plenty of other aspects.

Home visit for my Hartpury Equestrian DiSE Programme with mentor Claire Moir

It’s a bit frustrating being between competition seasons, but Claire is very understanding and supportive and has been a great help too while we have being building ourselves up to get back out competeing.

June and the quarter finished with a bang and a treat for the whole family. After a busy few months we headed off to Rome for a family break. It was a great weekend and so hot, but it’s such an amazing city with just incredible sights to see it really didn’t matter, from the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican to the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. And of course the food was incredible too with plenty of pasta, pizza and gelato to keep us all cool. I’m definitely going back one day, hopefully though when it isn’t nearly forty degrees!

Outside the Colosseum in Rome with my sister Grace

That is about it for this update. I hope to be sharing our return to competition in my next quarterly blog. In the meantime do make sure to follow @ilsedressage on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for regular updates as there is always a lot going on.

Thank you for reading, I really appreciate your support and if you think anyone else will enjoy following my journey please share!

Ilse x

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