A week to remember.

London 2012 came and went and now seems a blur and a week we had at Greenwich, one to remember for ever! Representing your country at any level is immense, however at an Olympic Games it is fantastic. The Irish had a super team of horse and riders going, probably the strongest we have produced in a long time. I think it was safe to say that we all inwardly hoped we would be able to produce a Bronze, but it was slightly out of reach this time, though we are on the upwards curve and produced three excellent results in the top 21 horses – Aoife(7th) me (14th) and Mark Kyle 21st.

Joseph and Sparky tackle the arena cross country fenceMicheal Ryan was extremely unlucky to have a fall at the penultimate fence on the cross country, he was following orders to achieve a clear round inside the time and was flying. The testing course took a lot out of all the horses and unfortunately, ‘Mac’ (Ballylynch Adventure) just ran out of petrol, similar to poor Camilla and ‘Jiff’. However it is a team competition and the other riders learned from this. We knew we had to produce three clears as fast as we could, as three finishing scores were required for us to complete as a team.

We pulled it off and after super show jumping rounds the next day, the three of us qualified for the 2nd round of jumping (for the individual competition), where Aoife and myself produced 2 of only 5 double clears from a total of 74 starters! Ireland really is on the way up and, with limited funding in comparison to the millions that the other teams have for training (Ireland has only 1000s), we are extremely proud of the 5th place the team achieved.

Sparky flies the Half Moon fence!I was lucky to attend the test event at Greenwich last year. So I had my bearings on arrival. There were lots of complaints that the entire venue would be dismantled with nothing left to show for it and all the money spent. Part of me agrees, but I also think it was very special to compete at a venue that no-one has, or ever will ride around again. The facilities were superb and considering it was built on a temporary basis, it was a credit to the organisers. Like everything, some people will always have complaints!

The Olympic village was a great experience and it was very interesting to see all the different shapes and sizes of competitors for different sports. The opening ceremony was amazing and again, a memory for life. The horses had large airy stables, but at the beginning of the week with temperatures in the 30s, the stables were very hot. We had brought our own fans as this was something the organisers had missed, and we could have really done with more air conditioning. Luckily the weather cooled down for the remainder of the week.

Joseph (right) and team mates Mark Kyle and Aoife ClarkeThe grooms were well catered for in a hotel onsite, and properly so, as without this support network we could not operate. Lisa was wonderful, as always, and unfortunately she is leaving at the end of the season to move to the USA to live with her boyfriend! We will seriously miss her and are on the look out for a new head girl now.

Sparky in his Olympic stable!I have to mention that the girls at home, Jenny, Amanda and Clare, who did a great job at keep the show on the road in between supporting us in London. I believe that a little bit of Gin was consumed whilst making our ‘Good Luck’ Poster! Sparky is at home enjoying a well deserved break now. He is fit and well and I have not told him yet, but his winter involves some intensive dressage training. I won’t burst his bubble with the news just yet!

Lisa, Joseph's amazing head girl!So it was back to reality when we arrived at a Novice event at the weekend, to get no further than the gate to be told it was abandoned due to the weather! We are off to France next with Sandy, Swanky and Rainy in the hope of better ground. Rainy Days is very aptly named at the moment – perhaps we should change it to Sunrise?!