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17 January,2018

Box Rest, Baby Horses & Big Dreams by Inside Track Eventing

An Update from Inside Track Eventing

Happy New Year everyone! I apologise for the lack of updates on our little corner of the Haynet world – however if you follow my blog, you may have noticed that it has been pretty hectic for me, particularly in the latter half of 2017!

So, let’s get up to speed, shall we?

Shaken awake from our Eventing dream

Paddy, my lovely horse who I purchased as a showjumper, to retrain as an eventer, was showing some great promise in the world of eventing – super careful in the showjumping, starting to come together on the flat, and becoming more confident in his cross country. He placed third at his first One Day Event, and fifth just a few events later – both at Intro (90cm) level. All was going to plan – Paddy was game, I was feeling brave – and it seemed like the Pre-Novice (100) dream was well within our grasp.

Louise O’Brien Photography

Alas one morning Paddy came out of his stable lame, and when he didn’t come right after a couple of days, I knew something was up. A trip to our vets and a thorough lameness examination showed some damage to his pedal bone, which – while it would heal and he could return to full work with no issue – could not be healed by much more than box rest and time. I will never forget standing in the hall at work, trying to hold back the tears as my vet told me my lovely horse would be out of action for up to six months.

Keeping myself busy

So I resigned myself to the fact that I would have six months of no riding, and I was going to have to find ways to keep myself busy. In my ‘real life’, I had always wanted to pursue a new career challenge, but it never felt like the right time – however with more time on my hands, I felt I had the headspace to start thinking about where I’d like to go next in my career, and what jobs might suit. I finally found a great role within the company I work for, which I started in October and am really enjoying. I work in advertising, so the Black Friday and Christmas period gets pretty busy – it’s a great job to ensure the winter passes quickly!

Paddy adapted to the box rest better than I did!


Paddy adapted to the box rest better than I did!

I also spent a lot of time honing my writing skills, and started to branch out beyond competition and lesson reports, or product reviews – I challenged myself to take on a completely new challenge, and dip my toe in the waters of equestrian journalism! I applied to be a Social Media Reporter for the FEI at the Dublin Horse Show, and was thrilled to find out I was successful – I enjoyed a wonderful week of intense researching, interviewing, reporting and a case of ‘the claw’ after lots of Tweeting, Instagramming and Facebooking!

This experience led to my most memorable moment of 2017, which was finding out that I had won the FEI’s International ‘Search for a Social Media Star’ competition, and would be flying to Barcelona with them to cover the FEI Nations Cup Jumping Final as a Social Media Reporter! I had an absolute blast – meeting some of the top showjumpers in the world, watching top horse and rider combinations jumping at night in Spain, and meeting the FEI team. An experience of a lifetime, and one I hope to replicate again in 2018 as I pursue more opportunities in this space.

Expanding the (pony) family

But alas, all the wonderful career and blogging opportunities in the world could not fill the pony-shaped hole in my heart. I missed riding terribly, and with a few months still to go before Paddy could even have a check up to see progress, I finally accepted that I was now a horse addict and I could not own just one horse.

And so baby Willow joined the Inside Track Eventing family! An unbroken, relatively unhandled four year old bought just a few weeks out of the field, she was quite possibly my most impulsive purchase – as I found her ad online while on holidays in Greece, sent the ad to my (very experienced) friend, and sent her off to view – and ultimately buy – her on my behalf! I have not regretted my decision for a second, as she is insanely clever and talented, and within 12 weeks of being backed, she has placed in Combined Training, jumped clear rounds at 70cm level, and gone XC schooling with gusto! I am so excited about the upcoming season with her, and it allows me to give Paddy as much time as he needs to come back to full work.

Two ponies in winter = madness?!

And speaking of the main man himself… he is now coming back into work! So in the wild Irish wind and rain, on the top of a mountain in Dublin, with no shelter on our very exposed outdoor arena (at least we have an arena, eh?), I am attempting to ride/lunge/hang on to my two horses every evening after work. It’s not easy – I won’t lie! And I’m not entirely sure how much thought went into the fact that I’d have two horses in full work in the depths of winter… but if you asked me would I change anything? I’d say no. I love my two talented horses, and once we get through the next four-six weeks, we have a very exciting season ahead.

Rehabbing rain, hail & shine

Gaining perspective, and setting 2018 goals

So 2017 was certainly a mixed bag. Some lows, but definitely a lot of highs to go with it. It was gutting to have Paddy out of work for so long, but had he not been off, maybe I would not have pursued a new career challenge, or won the FEI’s Social Reporter competition, or brought the wonderful Willow into the family. And having learned all I have done through breaking and backing Willow, I have new skills that will help me do better at bringing Paddy along for the 2018 season.

So what are my goals for 2018? Well I’d be remiss not to mention my lifelong dream of getting to the Dublin Horse Show. Every year I set myself a goal of getting there, and so far my dreams have been scuppered each time. This year I would love to qualify one of my two horses for the show, and as the show has a diverse range of classes available to compete in, I have a couple of paths I am looking at taking to get there. It will involve a lot of hard work, and I have some serious self improvement to do on my own skills, but I’m committed and determined. And if I don’t get there, I’ll have done a whole lot of improving along the way – and that can only be a good thing!

Louise O’Brien Photography

Beyond that ‘big dream’, I would desperately love to have my Paddy back out eventing again. He is being aimed for EI90 level to start, and if he copes well I would be chuffed to upgrade to EI100 toward the end of the season. We are not in any rush and I will take it one day at a time.

With Willow, I want to get her out showing, and also do a little bit of eventing with her too! She is really very versatile and has a super brain, so as a young horse my mission is for her to see as much as possible, and be eternally confident while doing it.

But most of all, if I can finish the season with me and my two horses in one piece, happy and confident – then that will have been my most epic season yet.

Until next time Haynetters – aim high, dream big, and always look for the positives!


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