When we evacuated Euroa to Camperdown HT!

The first weekend of December kicked off with a severe weather warning for what was forecast to be one of the most major storms to ever hit Victoria. With horse events all around the state being cancelled, the Camperdown Horse Trials which I was entered in was set to go ahead, with the Western District of Victoria supposed to be missing much of the rain. At home in Euroa on the other hand, it was a completely different story! On the Friday before the event the rain began and it didn’t leave! I have ridden in the rain my whole life, and been caught out in many storms with hail and heavy rain, but I have never been quite so soaked as I was after riding 5 horses on Friday morning! My saddles were squelching as was every other part of me! To begin with the ground was soaking the rain up, but very soon it began to flash flood in places and we began to worry about whether it was the right thing to do to go away to an event.

I was very indecisive all afternoon, having spent a lot on entry fees and my horses being well prepped I was keen to go, but equally I was worried about the roads to get there and the rain at home which just kept coming down in torrents! It wasn’t until Andy got home from work (when we were meant to be leaving straight away) that we went for a walk around the property and looked at the flash flooding that had already occurred and finally made a decision. With the house and all the paddocks being on high ground, we decided there was no point sitting at home and watching the rain fall when the forecast was quite good for Camperdown. So we loaded up the horses and were on our way at about 5pm in the afternoon. We ended taking a less direct route to avoid Melbourne and possible traffic build ups due to the weather, but our alternate route ended up taking us through the hills across the divide which took forever in the truck, and we didn’t get to Camperdown until almost 11pm!

It was a little overcast but really quite ok weather at Camperdown Saturday morning. We got up early for Hughie’s dressage test. He did a lovely test in the EvA 95, being calm and obedient. I was thrilled with him, and the score of 72% and to be sitting in 2nd reflected his test. It was after his test that I got a message from my groom Ros who had stayed at home to look after the horses. It was a picture of our front driveway.

Usually there is a narrow bridge here with a deep creek bed (which lies at least 2m underneath), but as you can see, the floodwater had not only burst the creek banks, but submerged the entire bridge too, well and truly cutting off access to our property. It was quite strange not being there to see it firsthand, but rather through photos all over facebook, and even Euroa featuring on the news! It seemed like we had evacuated Euroa for Camperdown!

For the rest of Saturday, I walked my cross country courses for the following day and rode Geisha’s dressage test. Poor Geisha was pretty unimpressed when it started to pour right as I swung up onto her, and for the first time in almost a year she was quite cold backed! However, she soon settled and went on to warm up nicely. Unfortunately every external factor that could go wrong in the test did, however her work itself was quite good. Firstly, my hairnet fell off, hitting her on the way down. Then the arena fence blew over. And finally, the judge in the ring behind mine honked the horn to start their test but I thought it was my judge honking me for an error, which I then ended up incurring through stopping! Oh well, I was nonetheless pleased with the work itself in the test, and was placed 11th in the CNC 1*.

On Sunday morning we received the news that the water at home had receded enough that the bridge was once again visible, meaning that we should be able to get home that night unless it started raining again!

Geisha’s cross country was first up and she gave me an incredible ride, just eating up the course. It was (as it always is on the hills at Camperdown) a tiring track, but she zipped around to be one of just 6 clear and under time rounds, moving up to 4th place.

Hughie was a bit keen on the early part of his EvA 95 cross country, but soon found a rhythm (or maybe just got a bit tired by all the hills!). Nonetheless, he made light work of all the jumps, finishing clear and under time to move up into 1st place. With a rail in hand, he went and jumped a super clear show jumping round to take out the win in the EvA95 Section A, his 3rd win out of his career total of 5 eventing starts! (All at 95) What an impressive record! To top off what I thought was already a great weekend, Geisha also jumped a clear show jumping round, which turned out be the only clear round in the 1*, moving her too up to 1st place! These are the main two horses I have been campaigning this season, and I couldn’t be happier with how they finished the year off. They are both now enjoying a month off, while we have a little bit of a quieter time and focus on some of the younger up and coming horses. So we headed home on Sunday with two winners rugs, but the real win of the weekend was that, thankfully, we were able to cross the bridge at the front of the property and make it home! What an eventful weekend!

Being the end of a fantastic season, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank my sponsors, Dublin Clothing, Top Foda, TuffRock Australia and Flexible Fit Equestrian for all their incredible support.

Thanks to my coach Ken Jelbart. Thank you to Roslyn Burns who has done a super job grooming for me this season, and also keeping things going at home while I am away. And of course thank you to my number 1 supporter/groom/farrier and boyfriend and everything else that you are, thanks Andy!