Words by Trudy Dougall.
The latest equestrian season has ended for Team Dougall! As we look back on the year, while it was not what we had initially planned, there were many lessons learnt and many positives to take away. We entered 2019 with huge plans and the hope that Brooke and “My Locky” would achieve the qualifications to take them to Adelaide International 3DE. Horses are athletes, and, like their human counterparts, can become injured. Unfortunately, earlier this year “Locky” injured himself in a paddock accident. This was extremely disappointing for Brooke as it was her final year as a junior and she had made big plans for the season. While not out of work completely, we had four months of rehabilitation work ahead of us before we could even think about another event with the big boy.
Luckily, our little redhead “Chester” was in the wings, and it was the perfect opportunity for Brooke to focus on him and hopefully get him to his first two-star event at the end of the season. We call Chester our little Red Kangaroo. Chester has springs in his legs; however, he can be quite spooky. There were times when he seriously challenged Brooke and then there were times when he was a little superstar. The Qld International 3DE saw them complete their first one-star long format together. One of only six combinations to go, clear and under time they placed a respectable 16th out of 50 starters and earned themselves the necessary qualification to move up to two-star! Still, we felt another couple of runs at one-star would be beneficial to make sure the confidence was in place to step up. He did not disappoint and at Fig Tree Pocket he cantered around clear with his ears pricked eagerly looking for the next fence. He was telling us it was time.
In the meantime, the big boy was back in work and ready to step out again. With so much time out of the competition scene, we decided it was in both horse and rider’s best interest if we stepped down a level and give them both a couple of two-star starts before stepping back up to three-star. Fig Tree Pocket was the first event back and “My Locky” did not disappoint giving Brooke a confident run going clear with only a few time faults. The next event we took him to Toowoomba International Event to test things a little more. Leading after the dressage, a clear showjumping round kept them in the lead. Cross-country day was exciting and they galloped around the course, jumping like a pro they came in with only a couple of time faults. Finishing in second, we could not have been happier.
Brooke has been working for Fairview Performance Horses (a professional showjumping stable) where she has had some wonderful opportunities. After Toowoomba, Brooke headed off to Tamworth world cup where she and Locky competed in the Rising Stars tour, held over four days. On the last day, Brooke and Locky found they had qualified as one of the final horse and rider combinations to compete in the final round of the Rising Stars Tour. Jumping a beautiful double clear to put them in 5th place, Brooke was over the moon with the big boy’s performance.
We then headed to the Queensland Indoor Showjumping championships at QSEC in Caboolture where Brooke took her little “Chester” to jump around the 115 championships. He did not miss a beat and gave her a beautiful first round only having one down in the jump-off. He was showing us he was ready to step up.
We made the decision to step both horses up to the next level at the last event for the season. “Locky” competed in the three-star class and “Chester” stepped up to two-star at the recent Tambourine Equestrian CNC event. Both horses were super, with Locky jumping a lovely clear cross country round to finish in 5th place. Chester, however, was a superstar! The two-star course had quite a few questions with a few fences the little fellow had not had to face up to before. He did not disappoint, finishing his season with a beautiful clear round and almost on time. The smile on Brooke’s face said it all, and it is the reason we keep going even when things get tough and do not always go to plan.
We will now finish the season with a couple of showjumping competitions and then have a well-earned break before we head into the 2020 season. A big thankyou to JVA Electric Fencing for their continued support of a young Queensland rider.