An update for you guys on my very long, bumpy, twisty, tumultuous road that is RIO.
So where do I begin to fill you all in ? So much has happened in such small amount of time. Well it started on a high note with a huge win and receiving my first out of four Olympics qualifications at Equidays in the Grand Prix in Hamilton. This was a fantastic start to my competitions on home soil after just recently moving back to NZ a few weeks prior. But just days later my Olympic dream seemed to be tumbling down around me. In the middle of the night, approximately 3am we found AJ cast in his stable thrashing around with apparent colic. With no signs of improvement it was deemed surgery was necessary if we were going to save my wonderful four legged friend. Hamilton vets have been absolutely fantastic. It is only because of their expertise, efforts and wonderful management that AJ has slowly made a full recovery. Hamilton Vets have been with us every step of the way checking, double checking and triple checking AJ in the weeks post surgery, helping us make sure his recovery was as smooth as possible and bringing him back to full health and fitness.
Following the colic surgery / recovery and with the thumbs up from our vets we had just nine days until we were to compete at the New Zealand nationals. Let’s just say it was a VERY stressful time. How was I going to prepare my-self and my horse for one of the biggest shows of the year with only just over a week’s worth of training ahead of us. Thankfully AJ and I had some good training sessions to put us in a positive light and with the support from my amazing girlfriend Holly (who put up with a rather anxious and stressed Johnny) we were able to work through the rather not so ideal preparation, nerves and exhaustion and put our best selves forward to become the Grand Prix New Zealand champions and nab my 2nd Olympic qualifying score while I was at it!
2 down 2 to go!
After our performance at Nationals of which I couldn’t have hoped for better, I had to shift my focus to our next competition “Riding With The Stars” . What an amazing event this turned out to be. The arena looked more like Las Vegas than Hamilton! And as most of you know how shy I am… in front of a crowd of around 3500 people, with lights beaming, music pumping and in my home town, we pulled of one of my best tests to date and were able to win and take out the freestyle competition. To make it just a bit sweeter I was competing against two of my fellow Aussie competitors that had made a special trip from Australia to compete in this prestigious event. Next stop after ‘Mini Vegas’ was to go to my first ever horse of the year, and all the talk I have heard about just how much amazing and unique this show is sure didn’t do it justice. Horses, ponies, people, bikes, cars, showjumps, dressage arenas, cross-country courses and enough shops to fill the biggest warehouse in NZ sets up the show for a fantastic competition. It is estimated up to 60,000 people streamed through the gates at HOY to watch the best horse and riders from across 14 disciplines. AJ and I didn’t disappoint either pulling out some amazing test and over the next 3 days of competing he just became stronger and stronger to become New Zealands Horse of the year for 2016 …. But more importantly…. We Nab another Olympic qualification in the process!!
3 down…. 1 to go!!!
And where to next? My old stomping grounds, Werribee park back in Aussie for one of the biggest CDI of the year. Dressage With The Stars. In a field with just under 20 starters with some of Australia’s best riders and horses entered in it, it was going to be a tough competition and with the pressure turned up on high as we needed over a 70% to be fully qualified for RIO with only one show remaining, we NAILED IT. 70.20% and 1st place completing all my qualification’s needed to be selected. Then bringing home the freestyle the next night just finished of what is becoming a dream run
Still many more hurdles to jump over before the finish line is crossed but at least I can sit back now and feel very content that I have achieved all Olympic and national criteria set to be selected to represent my country of birth in the games. It just make me feel beyond proud. I have one more show left being Sydney CDI to try bump up my score as high as I can and push my case further forward to being selected. I feel so lucky and privileged to ride AJ and call him my own and promise to keep everybody updated but for now I better go and get training to ride the best tests of my life! JT