29 Jun Getting to Melbourne & Back with a Happy Horse
By Chloe Gee
Sponsored rider Chloe Gee recently made the trip East to Melbourne International Three Day Event and came home with a happy horse and 8th place. In this blog she talks about what it takes to travel interstate and how Tia coped with the demands of the event.
The Nullarbor trip can be quite daunting at the best of times, let alone when you have to travel with a horse. Keeping a horse healthy and happy on a long trip like that is quite difficult and something that you need to continuously check and monitor. Recently, I took my little horse to the Melbourne 3 Day event in Werribee, and from my house it is about 3,500km. That kind of trip we do in 4 days, with stops every 5-6 hours to get Tia off for 30-45 minutes. I think it’s super important to stop for a good amount of time when you are driving your horse over, to make sure they can get their heads down and drain out any dust or other stuff they might have breathed in whilst on the truck in a confined space.
The trip east...
This was Tia’s second trip across to Werribee, and she travelled really well this time. She always ate a bit of something when we stopped, sometimes preferring grass over her feed which was totally fine as she always ate her feed at our stop overs at night. She also drank a fairly good amount of water at these stop overs, not so much during the day, so our little trick to get her to drink was dropping pieces of apple into the water so that she would get some of it while trying to get the apple. This has become less efficient as Tia is very good at apple bobbing and eats all the apple pieces without struggle!
She held her condition very well, we didn’t wash her hardly at all for the competition (because it was so cold over there, and she was clipped) and the shine of her coat was incredible! She did drop off a little bit of condition, as all horses do over such a long trip, but as a whole we were really pleased with how she pulled up in Adelaide where we spent a week training before travelling another 8 hours to Werribee.
The demands of the event...
Obviously in eventing, the cross country phase is the most demanding part of the event. The course distance for the 2* class was 4,020m with 30 jumping efforts. 520 metres per minute is the speed we have to travel and our optimum time for this event was 7 minutes and 44 seconds. Certainly the longest course I’ve ever ridden!
Compared to the three and four star classes I’m sure that’s not very long, but for my little horse, it was quite the trek. Although the course was almost completely flat (unlike some over here in WA) it was still quite a demand on the horses.
Cross Country & Recovery….
If you know Tia, you would know that she certainly gives me a ride cross country and is quite strong and forward, even when she’s tired, so it makes it a little difficult to gauge when she’s getting tired. The indication of how difficult the cross country was for her is how she pulls up afterwards. Well, I’ve never known a horse to pull up so well after the longest cross country run of her career! This pony was almost leading ME in the trot up! She passed with flying colours and felt amazing warming up for show jumping.
She jumped really well and although I didn’t win the competition, I won in other ways with a sound and happy horse at the end of the competition, who looked like she could do it all again another three times over.
She travelled well again on the way home, and has had a nice week off since arriving home, still retaining all her condition (although she may be a little fatter after being in the grass paddock for a week!).
As I said before, getting a horse across Australia sound, and with all four legs still attached, is quite the effort. We worked closely with T&R to make sure we were on the right track and had everything prepared so we minimised our risk of something going wrong.
The Energy Balance:
She also had the right amount of feed to be able to be not too exuberant and pull off a great dressage test, whilst also having a high amount of energy for the cross country phase.
I’m more than happy to answer any questions or share any of my tips with you, feel free to send me a message, or Thompson and Redwood and they’ll pass it on!
A big congratulations to Chloe and her team on qualifying, getting there, completing and then PLACING at one of Australia’s biggest events.