Julia Hargreaves Update

Hello from Julia Hargreaves

It's been so long since my last blog that I had to go and check the website to see what the last thing was that I blogged about!! I'm much further behind than I thought I was as I was sure I had written about Valkenswaard!  

So, I've done a few things since Chantilly.  Had a little break before Valkenswaard, which didn't seem like a real break as the show was being built around us, and it took about 3-4 weeks before it was completely finished.  Valkenswaard was by far the best-run event we have attended.  Everything was easy.  The people were great to work with and did everything in their power to make sure the riders were happy.  Everything was very close and easy, our stables for instance were 10 metres from the sand arena.... and roughly 25 metres from the bar (obviously not so important, but thought it was important to mention).  The first weekend was a 2** event.  The horses all jumped well, the star of the team being Elton (7yo).  Elton was 5th in the young horse final! He was amongst seriously nice horses, so I was stoked to be in the line up.  Especially with Daniel Deusser on my left... I'm not letting him forget that any time soon.  Gerco won, and also a fellow Aussie was in the line up, Phill Lever was 3rd with his lovely 6yo Rio.  Paris did his thing all weekend. He also won a ribbon in the 1.40 speed class, so he got a star too.  Vedor was ok, he seemed a little flat on that weekend but looked after me all the same! 

The next weekend was the 5***** that I had been freaking out about for quite some time.  Vedor made things a little more stressful with being a bit neck and back sore and flat in general.  I remember when I first decided to head to Europe I had long discussions about my plan and management with Peter Cooke and Stephen Lamb, both of whom said that at the 5-6 week period after landing the horses go through a rough patch where they just aren't themselves... conveniently this worked out to be right bang on this weekend. Saying that, Vedor didn't let me down.  On the first day in the 1.45 speed class he had some time faults (when I say some I mean 6 haha) and in the big class we had 3 down.  I was pretty happy to go through the finish flags! On the final day we had a 1.50 class where we had just one fence down and he didn't feel at all effected by the previous class which was nice, I feel very blessed to have such a brave horse with a huge heart! 

Georgie over the 2 weeks had her lovely new horse Tresor and leased another horse called Chivas,who was also a delight to have in our stables.  He became a bit of a pet, always very happy to see everyone and loved his job.  Georgie rode fantastic, not one mistake was made on her behalf.  Sadly we had to say good bye to Georgie after the 2 shows as she was homeward bound. I have really enjoyed watching her progress, she gained a lot from the experience.  Her ring ride has always been her strong point, but it got even better!  Much more professional and also her management with different types of horses was significantly improved by the time she finished up.  I'll miss having her around, but I'm sure she'll be back at some point! 


We then had a weekend off before we headed to Munster 4****.  Here I took Elton and Vedor.  This was also a very well run show.  But was seriously unlucky with the weather.  The ground really suffered and therefore the riders did too, we saw a lot of crashes in the GP qualifier.  In fact the last 10 or so horses withdrew and the last 5 horses that started either retired or got eliminated.  It was pretty awful watching some of the horses fall apart due to no fault of their own, just bad footing.  I was lucky to be directly after a break where they groomed the arena, and early enough in the draw that I wasn't aware of what was actually going on in the arena!  I couldn't understand anyone, and Daniel (George was in Rotterdam with Aprilla) was helping me and also thought it a better idea to keep me in the dark.  I had one down, and he felt quite good really.  Everyone that started in the class automatically qualified for the GP as the organisers all agreed that the qualifier was not particularly fair.  

Vedor jumped super in the GP.  With just 1 time fault.  We had 2 down in the jump off, and finished 10th, made it into the line up, so I was happy!!! 

It seems I have to say goodbye to someone after every show... Mum after Monaco, Suzy and Brigid after Chantilly,  my dad, Georgie and the Harveys after Valkenswaard and now mum again after Munster!  Was VERY sad to see mum go.  It is always nice having some so close there with you, who you know is 100% on your side and only has your best interests at heart.  So this wasn't an easy goodbye! 

Next stop was Padderborn 3***.  Again, the crappy weather followed us to another grass arena.  The footing got so bad that both Vedor’s front shoes got sucked off on the first day! I took all 3 boys to this one.  Paris was 9th on the first day in the 1.45 speed class, he was great all weekend!  Elton was fantastic also in what felt like the young horse olympics.  You know it's big when George comes out and says "it's bloody tough enough" in a very doubtful tone with a look on his face saying, I really don't know if you should be starting in this... But I was determined to start, and with Eltons track record, bravery is not a problem for him!! So off we went, on the 1st day he jumped clear, and in the final he had the last fence of the jump off! I really couldn't have been happier with him!!  Vedor didn't cope as well as the others did with the ridiculously small warm up.  This was the only place for anyone to warm up, work or lunge their horses and it was about half the size of a dressage arena.  So Vedor took full advantage of his fear of his fellow man and became pretty.... irritating to put it nicely.  In the ring he was generally quite good.  Four faults in the GP qualifier which was good enough to get him through.  In the GP itself you had to jump 4 faults or less and quick to get into the 2nd round, and after I had the 2nd fence down I decided it a better idea to retire instead of pushing him on through less than ideal surface.  I wasn't too disappointed with his result as half the class did similar things.  And when Edwina retired I thought, well at least I'm in good company. 

Lastly, I arrived home from Barcelona 5***** last night.  One of the most beautiful cities I've been to.  And so far the one with the best weather!!   Spain is a funny place.  Edwina warned me on the plane that I should be prepared for very slow service.  She wasn't kidding, it's like there is a standard 10 minute wait after you ask for anything... and that's before they even start thinking about helping you! The hotel was interesting... one of those ultra modern places where everything is touch screen, including the stupid elevators which I could never work out... and my shower!  Don't worry I managed to work that one out.  Most of you probably don't know that I have a fear of heights.  Well, I was staying on the 23rd floor.  Normally I'm ok with high hotel rooms, but not if the elevators are made of glass and overlook the city.  The stairs were no option because they had an alarm, no need to ask me how I worked out that there was an alarm... awkward... So I'm pretty sure anyone that hopped into the lift with me thought I was pretty strange as I would have my eyes shut and be holding onto the railing for dear life.  If only they knew that any second the glass was going to shatter and we were all going to get sucked out and then plummet to our deaths.... fools.. 

Horses were all good.  Paris did his first 1.50 classes, with 4 faults each time, very proud!! Elton was a little star, joining the big kids in the 1.40 classes.  Clear each day with a 5th on the 2nd day.  Vedor had the first fence in the 1.50 GP qualifier, this got him through.  I didn't display my greatest riding in the GP.  In fact, I displayed a little bit the opposite.  I was clear up until the triple combination where I decided a weak backward canter to an already waiting distance was a great option to an oxer-verticle-oxer combination.  Poor poor Vedor... Anyways, he came down on the back of the oxer and there was just no way he was going to make it over the rest... we jumped the first fence and went to the bar. To make sure he wasn't scared by the whole experience I started him in the 1.45 on the last day where he jumped around with one down and not a worry in the world.. again reminding me of how lucky I am to have him, he's such a forgiving creature!! 

Was also nice to see an old friend. Vivant was there with the Ukraine team, he looked great and jumped clear on the first 2 days, and then in the nations cup was clear and 4, good performance, and they adore him, which is no suprise at all!! 

And again, I am farewelling some more people.  The last of my originals really, then I am completely alone pretty much!! George flies out in the morning, not quite sure if I have come to grips with that yet... I'm sure reality will hit when I'm at my first show without him this weekend... on horses I don't know... should make for an interesting blog next week.  And my wonderful friend and groom Chaz is leaving for Australia.  I am going to miss her so much! She has been a HUGE part of my career so far and I'm going to feel lost without her.  My new groom starts next week and she has pretty big shoes to fill so fingers crossed she works out. 

Well, that's a ridiculously long blog.  I will try and be a little more frequent now so that it's not so boring in one massive essay!!Off to Moorselle 3*** this weekend, first indoor show of the year.  I suck indoors.  So I'm really looking forward to it. Bye for now...