Update from our LegUpForTalent sponsored rider Sophie Spiteri
It's been quite some time since we've heard from our LegUpForTalent sponsored rider, Sophie Spiteri, so we thought we'd give you all an update. Lets see what Sophie has been getting up to...
Well what a few months it’s been! I’m my last blog I mentioned that I was heading off to China for a couple of weeks after the ROR championships, so this blog will be both horsey and non-horsey!
I will start by giving you all a brief rundown of the ROR Goff National Championships at Aintree. I was lucky enough to qualify both horses for the championships this year. I’ve been hoping to qualify for years but have always missed out for one reason or another, so to qualify both my boys this year was amazing.
Off we went, lorry loaded up to the hilt, with a weeks’ worth of feed, wet weather gear, rugs and snacks! I’m a terrible cook, so finding enough supplies to keep us going for the week can often be a challenge! Luckily there was a café on site, so my groom and best friend Steph didn’t have to endure my cooking every night. The boys settled in well and seemed to enjoy making use of the lovely facilities at Aintree. I wish I’d managed to capture a photo of Silmi when we arrived. His face was picture. Ears pricked and shaking with excitement, he jogged into the stables like he was about to run at Aintree once again.
Day one was Silmi’s big day. He had qualified for the finals in both arena event and Show Jumping. After getting into the jump off in the Show Jumping he finished a credible 8th in the national final. I was over the moon with this as we hadn’t had the best opportunity to train before the event. He also jumped a fantastic round in the arena eventing where he finished 6th in the finals. The little grey monster did me proud. Archie was also qualified for the arena eventing that afternoon. He jumped a lovely round but rolled a pole so didn’t finish in the top 10. I was still pleased with him as we’re still a new partnership and we haven’t had long to get to know each other as team just yet.
Photos above: (left) Silmi & Sophie taking part in the Show Jumping. (right) Archie & Sophie taking part in the arena eventing
Day two was meant to be a free day, but I had decided to give some in-hand showing a go with Silmi. To my amazement, he won the grey class, and came 3rd in the longevity class. He came up against some serious show horses in the longevity class who were on their journey to HOYS. We had lovely comments from the judges as to what a happy horse he was. One lady judge said he looked like the happiest horse off the entire show, which instantly tuned me into a blubbering mess, at which point Steph came and escorted me out of the arena, rosette in hand and a very chirpy Silmi in the other. For those of you who read my last blog, you will know that Silmi had a terrible accident 6 weeks ago where he fell down a cattle grid and badly damaged his back legs. His future looked bleak and the thought of getting him to the champs felt impossible. After 3 weeks of plastering Phytobalm on every day, the wound was coming together beautifully, and we managed to get our entries in just in time!
Photos above: Sophie and Silmi with their winning rosettes
Day 3 was Archie’s big day. After finishing 3rd at the Royal Welsh he had qualified for the performance horse finals on the Champion of Champions day. Course walk was 6.45am and we were scheduled 13th to jump. It was a beefy course with some of the best horses in the country entered. We held our own and jumped a half decent round, rolling two poles. He did a cracking ridden show but understandably we weren’t called forwards to the evening performance. After 4 days away, I think he was feeling tired by the atmosphere there and both boys were ready to head home.
Photos above: Archie and Sophie jumping
A long drive home to west Wales and the boys were officially on their summer holiday. They went next door to stay with a good friend whilst I unpacked my riding suitcase and re packed it ready for the biggest challenge of my life! Me and my mum were off to walk the Great Wall of China.
The following Friday, we drove to Heathrow and met with 14 other nutcases who had all decided it would be a good idea to walk the Great Wall of China for Charity. We had all chosen to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society as it was a charity close to our hearts. I lost both my nan and grandad to Alzheimer’s last year, so felt I wanted to do something that I could remember them by.
Photo above: Sophie with her mum Jill
I knew the trek would be tough going, we were due to walk over 100kms across unrestored wall in 35-degree heat over 6 days. I had no idea quite how tough it was going to be though. What I hadn’t considered was the fact that the wall was built on top of mountains to keep the Mongolians out over 1400 years ago. This mean in order to access the wall every day, we first, had to climb a mountain! No easy feat when you are aching from head to toe, carrying 5kg of water on your back and have blisters the size of a 50 pence piece. In total, we climbed over 117,000 steps, 1450 flights and trekked 121kms. In the process, we did burn over 23,000 calories, so I didn’t feel too guilty about the amount of coffee that was consumed in the mornings before trekking. As a group, we have raised over £47,000 towards finding a cure for Alzheimer’s.
Photo above: Sophie and her mum Jill with the rest of the group
China is the most baffling, amazingly beautiful and vibrant country I have ever been to. If you ever get the chance to visit I would grab that opportunity and get on that plane. I’ve come home feeling enthused, excited and ready to take on another challenge next year. So, based on my feelings about China, I’ve signed up for a trek across the Sahara at the end of event season next year. I’m yet to choose a charity to raise money for, so names on a postcard please!
Photos above: Views from the Great Wall of China
Back to the horses now. The season is coming to a close and I must say, I’m really looking forward to the winter leagues. I always find it a great time to really get to grips with any problems that have cropped up during the summer months. We have the first winter series jumping competition on this weekend, so I will check in to let everyone know how we get on! I have also booked in on ROR camp at Pontispool next month with Archie. I’m really looking forward to getting some tuition from some great instructors and catching up with the ROR team!
If you'd like to donate and join Sophie & Jill with their fundraising for Alzeimer's UK, you can do so by visiting their GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/jillandsophgotrekking