Christmas in Aussie was fantastic! I spent the first half of my day in Scone (New South Wales) with my mum before travelling four hours to Kentlyn, on the outskirts of Sydney, where we celebrated Christmas playing backyard cricket, badminton and flying kites with my nephews and nieces. No such thing as a sleep in over here either – Dad, my stepmother and I were up at 5.30am on Boxing Day to head down to Young – a four hour drive – to pick up a truck load of hay.
We had a party and a half with Kevin McNab for New Year – Kevin has been involved with my equestrian career for many years, and while I catch up with him regularly by phone, it’s good to be able to sit down in the same country and talk face to face. He is a genius! I usually only get to see him once a year, so I headed there early and we went out riding for a bit. Was great to get some help from him.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. December kicked off with the Puhinui International Three Day Event. It was as good as ever. They always put on a good show there and the Titch Massey designed cross country was every bit the challenge it should be. It's a beautifully presented course too which adds to the whole atmosphere. It was great to have my dressage coach Penny Castle there and at the previous event at the Richfields One Day Event Championships. It was the first three star start for Clifton Airtight and he really stepped up to the mark. Every time we go out, he just gets better. Much of that is because he's a horse with a good brain. He did a good dressage test, scoring 53.4, which put us into second place going into the second phase, the cross country. It was a tough course for many, but Airtight went clear, picking up 10.8 time faults, which kept us in second place. Two rails in the showjumping still kept us in second place, so that was a great way to end the season with him.
The very deserving winner was Christen Hayde who finished on her dressage score – just the way it should be! I also rode Clifton Dickara into eighth place in the pre-novice section and Clifton Comanche to 18th in the one star.
That drew my New Zealand season to a close. Just before Christmas I headed to Aussie to see my Dad get married and catch up with my family on that side of the Tasman.
It’s greener than I’ve seen it in a long time here. The three-year-olds I have been working with are a little chubby from all that grass!
As soon as I hit Aussie though we were straight into hard labour – mowing lawns, cleaning up and generally getting ready for Dad’s wedding that weekend. Other than that I have been kind of trying to take it easy! The local water hole has been awesome for lots of cooling swims and it is always fun to jump off the rocks!
All the horses – and me – are now having a well-deserved break. I'm trying to get in as much sunshine as possible too before heading back to chilly England to get my Olympic year into full swing.
It's been awesome to be home, to see the horses, my lovely dog and of course, my family and friends, but I am ready to get back into the big task at hand now.
I feel I’ve done enough relaxing and partying and am looking forward to getting back to work – 2012 is going to be awesome. I can’t wait for the challenges and am well and truly ready for it all to begin in earnest.