Mia K, Year 12, spent 3 weeks with Team GB showjumper, Harriet Biddick, in Vilamoura, Portugal.
Mia met Harriet in July 2020 when she was looking to buy a horse with more potential to help her get to the higher levels in show jumping. Mia bought Logan off Harriet in August, who had competed up to 1.30m! Harriet then offered to help coach Mia. Mia began with weekly lessons every Thursday afternoon due to the school allowing Mia to leave early. Mia then asked Harriet if she could have 5 weeks work experience in the 2021 summer holidays and was allowed to live on site on her yard with Logan. Mia also stayed with Harriet a week prior to the NSEA National Championships which was held at Keysoe where Mia and Logan managed to finish an incredible 8th in 110 individuals!
Two weeks before Harriet flew out to Vilamoura, Mia was having her final training sessions and Harriet mentioned that she needed some extra help with all 5 horses. Mia and her parents contacted the Headmaster, Mr Paget-Tomlinson, who agreed it would be an amazing opportunity for Mia to support a Team GB rider and see how it all worked behind the scenes.
Week 1 Summary:
On Monday 14 February, I arrived in Vilamoura to spend the next 3 weeks with Harriet Biddick, a Team GB Showjumper. We had a quiet few days from Monday to Wednesday as it was a rest time for the horses. From Thursday to Sunday it then got extremely busy with up to 5 horses competing a day in different arenas. Myself and one other girl had to make sure all the horses were clean, fed, had water and clean stables, making sure all the tack is clean and ready for the next day and to help prepare the horses ready for Harriet to jump straight on.
On Thursday we had 5 horses jumping:
- Two horses in the 1.30m
- Two horses in the 1.40m
- One horse in the 1.455m
On Friday we also had 5 horses jumping:
- One in the 1.30m
- Three in the 1.40m
- One in the 1.45m
Due to the horses only being able to jump 3 times a week, two of them had a day off on Saturday so we only had 3 horses jumping on that day:
- One in the 1.35m
- Two in the 1.40m
On Sunday, Harriet stepped one of her horses up to jump it’s first ever 3* Grand Prix with the starting height at 1.50m and the horse was only 158cm tall!
Week 2 Summary:
Harriet came fifth on Carla X in the 1.30m speed class, and sixth on Hollys Dreamer in the 1.20m speed class. Night of Glory jumped in the Grand Prix on the Sunday which was also an Olympic qualifier just to knock 2 poles, this was her 2nd Grand Prix she has jumped!
Week 3 Summary:
Harriet came second on Holly’s dreamer in the 1.20m speed class and Carla X came 8th in the 1.40m. Night of Glory O.L jumped in the Olympic qualifier (1.60m) for 1 pole in the whole class and finally, Diamond Blue cleared in the 1.35m class!
Things I have learnt from being in Vilamoura and seeing the very best Showjumpers perform everyday:
- I have found it extremely interesting watching all the different warm up techniques all the different riders use, whether that is using a certain pair of boots on the horse or how long they spend working on the flat work vs how long they spend jumping in the warmup.
- I have learnt that even the very best make mistakes and have bad days, but it has been interesting seeing how they switch their mindset immediately the moment they see their next horse that they are about to compete with.
- The aftercare of the horses fascinates me as for example, Night of Glory, has her legs iced and clayed with cooling clay after any class that is in the 1.45m.