Last BYRDS Camp of the Year

Having been fortunate enough to be selected to attend the 2016-2017 BYRDS High Performance Camps, Gari and I left Aberdeenshire on Friday morning very early. We had quite a journey ahead of us to reach the Unicorn Trust Equestrian Centre in Gloucestershire. We made really good time, until we hit the M40 and then the fog all the way to Stow-on-the-Wold was so thick that we crawled along at 25mph. We arrived in the dark to an amazing facility and a lovely stable for Gari.

The following day we got to meet lots of other riders from all over the UK and the work got underway. Over the weekend we had two fantastic training sessions with Harry Payne, a strengthening and conditioning session for me to discover any weakness and make plans to work on these, performance planning and sports psychology. We also had the chance to ride a test of our choice from a list. As Gari and I are hoping to move up to Advanced Medium this year, we rode the Junior Team Test and I was pleased with a promising score.

In the evening we had an informative and interesting talk from Dengie Performance Horse Nutritionist Claire Akers, Harry the Gut had another outing and everyone thought it was brilliant! Dengie also put on a quiz, and thanks to my dodgy singing, our team earned bonus points to win a selection box and a Dengie bobble hat each!

The following day we got to video debrief with the judge, Andrea Smith, and I was really encouraged by her comments. If you get the chance to go to The Unicorn Trust Equestrian Centre then do, it is an amazing place and Fern, who cooked for us all, is a star and the food was amazing!

The camp finished on Sunday afternoon and we started our journey home. Gari was dropped off on the way home with one of my trainers for a bit of “flying changes” help while I spent the next two weeks revising for exams in January. We were on schedule for getting home for tea time when the worst happened, we suffered a blow-out! I have never had this happen and dad was brilliant, we managed to pull over safely and I was so glad that Gari was not on board! Sadly it took hours to get home and poor dad waited with the lorry and didn’t get home till after 11.30pm. Anyway all is well.

We are already excited about the next camp at Solihull Riding Centre in mid January. That just leaves me to thank Dengie for their amazing support this year, BYRDS for some amazing training and competitions and of course my amazing partner, Gari for all the times this year when he gave me that little extra to secure some great test riding.


Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year and I hope that 2017 is all you dream it will be.

Matilda & Gari (Watch Me!) x

Thank you to Karen Chaplin Photography for the lovely photo of Gari and I training