When I look back on this year, it strikes me that while we had some good results with a few horses, the main focus has been the development of my business. Having reached December I am thrilled to have been able to lay some really good foundations, and now be in a position to use this groundwork as a springboard for the future. It has taken a bit of cajoling to get off the ground, but I’m incredibly excited about my new venture ‘White Heather Eventing’ which, for those of you that didn’t read about it in Horse and Hound, is an SEIS scheme through which I plan to produce and sell a few top quality youngsters in order to fund one potential Olympic horse for a band of intrepid investors. I feel unbelievably lucky to have been given the opportunity to travel around Europe looking for shining equine talent, and to now be riding my 4 chosen super stars every day! It will be sad to sell them, but nothing’s ever easy when you want to progress, and I hope that one day I’ll be able to keep one or two. Until then though, I’m just looking forward to riding them, and to following their ascendance wherever they may go. I’ve been keeping an eye out for the Rio prospect but haven’t found anything that I feel certain about yet… so there’s still some excitement to look forward to before the year is out!
Overall, 2013 isn’t a year that I would choose to repeat, but as a result I have learnt a huge amount. Above all it has made me realise how important having a good back up team is, as it turns out (much to my annoyance!) that I can’t actually do everything myself, and still be a) of sound mind b) of sound body and c) super successful rider and business woman… I am so excited therefore that the amazing Cara Bexton has volunteered to run the show next year. We have done so much together over the last 6 or so years that I think she knows what she’s letting herself in for (!), but I feel massively honoured that she thinks my lovely steeds and I are worth putting freelancing on hold for.
It’s going to be all change next year as we start with a clean slate in a new yard (more to be confirmed soon) and an almost completely new team of horses. This season I have said goodbye to 3 ‘big boys’ in the form of Pavonita (Italy), Lady Bamford’s Dumbleton (GB) and most recently and heartbreakingly Longwood (USA) who I have produced very carefully over the last 6 years since he was a cheeky 5yr old. Although it is sad, this has given my business a massive boost, and at this stage in the game that is what it needs.
Despite having just had 3 horses to compete we have still managed to notch up some good International results. Team leader Out of Africa completed his first Badminton very respectably with a clear xc inside the time, and followed that up with 3rd place in the CIC3* at Hopetoun, whilst Longwood was 11th in the same class and then 7th at Blair CCI3* – as well as being top British horse. Dumbleton also showed his class by giving me my first International win in the CIC1* at Brand Hall, and then going on to finish in the top 20 at his first 3 day event at Blair, as well as 4th in the CIC1* at Hopetoun.
I would just like to thank all of my extremely loyal supporters and sponsors for making all of this possible, as there is absolutely no way I could do it without you. Thank you very, very much and bring on 2014!!