Thursday, 25 October 2007

Saying goodbye is the hardest thing....

It was fourteen years ago this October when I first saw you. Small and puny, you lay on my lap, big eyes so trusting, nuzzling my hand and blinking in the lantern light. You were so small and so beautiful, your long legs scrabbling , trying so hard to stand and to face your new life. It was love at first sight as I marveled at your perfection and I thanked your mother for this wonderful gift of life that she had given me.

I watched you grow - from gangly baby to cheeky youngster and slowly into responsible adulthood. I marveled at your exquisite beauty and your delicate frame. I admired your strength and your gentleness. I watched my child fall in love with you too as I watched you take care of her and teach her so much. I watched you both play and I watched you both work and I saw a bond between you that needed no words to express.

Sadly I watched as she grew and you stayed the same until the time came for her to move on. Still she loved you and cared for you but it wasn't quite the same. New passions came into her life, new challenges and you were just too small to keep up but we never stopped loving you and spending time with you, the relationship changed but the bond was still there.

Now it is time for both of you to move on. We are leaving and you have to stay behind. I know you'll be loved in your new home by another child and they have promised to give you a home for life. Even though I know I have done everything I can to make sure you'll be safe and cared for my heart is breaking.

Goodbye my loyal friend, my special pony. We will miss you so much.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

A wonderful trip into the past!

I 'Stumbled' upon this amazing site today and just felt I had to share it with you! There is a permanent link in the sidebar but you can also find your way there by clicking on: Warhorse Challenge Association

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Our Adult's Team in Kenya

Zambia sent an Adult's team to compete in Kenya earlier in the year. Horses were very kindly supplied by the Kenyans and the team, comprising of Paul Edgson, Lisa Swart and Alison Hawke (seen left to right with FEI International Judge and Course Designer Mary Binks), took part in both Dressage and Show Jumping events throughout the weekend.

The first event of the weekend was the Team and Individual Dressage in which our three riders came 2nd, 3rd and 4th individually, going on to win the Team Event for Zambia. Well done guys - obviously all that dressage training is paying off!

They then took part in the Team Show Jumping - sadly not as well placed as in the dressage but never-the-less putting up a good fight and making a good account of themselves as representatives for Zambia.

An enormous vote of thanks to the Kenya Horse Society for inviting us to take part and for looking after our competitors so well and also to the Kenyan riders and owners for their very generous loan of great horses for our riders to compete on.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

A small taste of Polocross.......

Another very popular horse sport in Zambia is Polocross. Here are a few pictures taken at a recent tournament. I hope to be able to get more information about this sport and some better pictures soon.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Thrills and Spills at the Lusaka Derby 2007

It's Derby time again!

This years show was well supported with competitors travelling from the Copperbelt and also from the Democratic Republic of Congo to take part. There were classes for children, junior and adult riders of all Grades. There were some tears and plenty of cheers as riders took to the arena and tried their hand at the lovely courses designed and built by Mary Binks who had once again travelled all the way from Kenya to be our Foreign Judge for the FEI as well as our Course Designer. The show was held and organised at the Lusaka Gymkhana Club, with Jenny Miller in charge. Once again it was a well run show with the venue looking very smart and a lot of hard work having been done by Jenny and the club membership.

Enjoy the pictures!

FEI World Show Jumping Challenge 2007

The Lusaka Derby, incorporating the FEI World Show Jumping Challenge was held this weekend. The Zambian leg of the World Challenge, category B, was won by Lisa Swart on Jamas Full Strike, Jenny Miller on Compadre coming a close second with our youngest competitor, Faye Wienand on Harry Brawn coming third.

The World Challenge is run over four different courses on two successive days, the total faults in each round being added together to decide the winner. Lisa and Full Strike were the only pair to manage four clear rounds in the competition. Now we wait for the results from the rest of our Group to see where Zambia stands in the rankings.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

The versatile Zambian horse!

And here is Amanita again, two weeks after the FEI Dressage Challenge, doing her winning round in the Speed Event at the Democratic Republic of Congo International Show!

To big competitions!

This is Amanita and my daughter taking part in the FEI World Dressage Challenge. The Challenge was begun by the FEI to help countries that don't have access to top trainers and is run all over the world every year. Zambia falls under Zone 9 which consists of Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya and Swaziland. Other Zones include countries such as Brazil, New Zealand, Russia, Greece, South Africa and Jamaica, to name just a few! Every year top FEI Judges travel around the world to each of these countries, the same Judges doing the same Zones, and each Zone competes against itself, the top two competitors then competing against each other to win the World Challenge. These Judges also give clinics after the competition to help riders and to encourage the further improvement in dressage.

For the past few years Zambia has been in the top percentage for their Zone. Zambia has also won the Best Venue Award (for ALL the countries taking part) for two years. In 2005, a Zambian rider came third overall in the individual test from 64 competitors taking part in the Zone (Amanita was 7th!) and in 2006 one of our riders was 6th overall. We have won the team event several times and we have won the Children's Test twice in a row.

Nearly all the horses used in Zambia for every discipline are Thoroughbreds. These horses are nearly always 'multi task' horses, doing dressage, show jumping, cross country and, sometimes, taking part in the odd polocrosse match too! Most of them are bought as ex-racehorses, either having finished their careers in this very demanding sport or having not quite made the grade and being sold on for other purposes. There is very little breeding done in Zambia so they have nearly always come from Zimbabwe, sometimes starting in Zambia as Polo horses which don't have the 'right stuff' for that discipline and then being passed onto the show jumping and dressage disciplines. This makes it all the more amazing that these wonderful animals can adjust and achieve as well as they do.

For such a small riding country, I think we have reason to be proud of our achievements! The next Dressage Challenge will take place in October 2007.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

From small beginings.....

The love affair with horse's starts from a very early age. This happy little girl is gearing up for her riding lesson on her favourite pony! One of our future show jumping prospects perhaps?

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Elvis at the Lusaka Derby last year.

One of our major shows held every year at the end of June is the Lusaka Derby. We also hold the FEI World Show Jumping Challenge in conjunction with this show so it is quite a big event that most riders in Zambia try very hard not to miss.

For us, getting there is a major schlep! We have to box our horses 380kms - usually in small trailers - and it is a day on the road, avoiding potholes and other delights of the Zambian road system! Mind you, the roads are in a much better condition than they used to be five years ago so it could be a lot worse! The trip takes considerable planning and organisation - we try to be on the road by 8am at the latest, expecting to arrive at the show grounds in Lusaka by 3pm. Travelling in the dark on these roads is never an option! For my daughter and I, it is a case of travelling 60kms 'back' to Kitwe to load horses and then back through Ndola on our way to Lusaka - it adds a couple of extra hours on and means we are usually on the road by 5:30am.

Last year Elvis (proper name Castle Rock) and my daughter were just starting their career together in the arena in Juniors at JNE level, a height of 80cms. This year they will be joining the adults jumping ANE and AE at 90cm-1m. We hope to be doing 1.20 by the end of the season. Elvis can certainly jump the height but is still learning to balance himself and 'sort his legs out'! Unfortunately, due to the pressure of Final 'O' level exams this past year, they have not been able to work nearly as much as they would have liked or needed to.

So here we are again, rushing around organising the horse trailer and getting ourselves out of 'school' mode and into 'show' mode and getting ready for the 'trek' to Lusaka in three weeks time.

Wish us luck!