Competing at an outdoor National Final was an exceptional experience for us!

Having decided in the Spring that we must see if we could qualify but not actually having a "card signed" caused a good deal of stress!

We took ourselves off to Windsor Park where Sox seemed fine round the the sixteen and half K marathon so we thought our efforts at "fittening" must be working and we finished in second place. Inspired by this we returned a fortnight later achieving the second signature and coming second again. On tenterhooks we went to Bradbourne O.D.E. for our third signature and then entered the Normanhurst Novice Qualifier coming second so now it was all roads to  AShfield for the Championships.

It had been an ambition of mine to go round the Ashfield obstacles and I have to say it was no disappointment, in fact it was exhilarating. Even Barry doing all the hard work on the back and getting soaked in the water seemed happy with our efforts and that
it had all been worthwhile.

We had been thrilled to win our dressage which was somewhat of a relief as when we took Sox to look at the flowers at the entrance to A the day before he had taken fright and tried to gallop off in the opposite direction! We had to spend some time trying to get near enough for him to realise they were harmless.

The rain of course had been a problem and Sec. A of the marathon was pretty horrendous with the carriage sliding all over the place (luckily avoiding ditches) but I was quite bothered by this. Sox coped brilliantly with it all and never slipped once. The "transfer" was the worst bit with deep mud on a steep hill and I felt very sorry for the pony, we had caught up with the pony in front so it helped them to walk along together.

At the start of E I had no idea if I could do it or not or if I would remember where to go. I did have one blip on the "mound" and missed E but Barry soon had me back on track.

We  were thrilled with the pony who tried all the way and was fantastic to drive. We had lots of vocal encouragement especially from Sara. I could hear her saying 'Go go Mum" at each obstacle!

Cones have always been a bit of a bete noir for me so I was quite pleased with only two down and three time. We finished in Fourth place which  we were very pleased to have achieved although of course to have been higher would have been better!! We aim to be around next
 year to take up the "Intermediate" challenge .

Several people need special thanks for making our show easier and more enjoyable. Anna Grayston for her stable! Anne Davey for taking my "buggy" Tom for taking Sox for walks and showing him the flowers again. Phil and Dan for looking after him after the marathon and Karen who washed all the mud off the harness! of course thanks to Barry for always being 'ahead of the game'.