I had the amazing privilege of being selected to represent my country in the African Shield Event in Zimbabwe. The African Shield is a tournament that takes place over a year and comprises of 4 nations. South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia, with each leg of the competition taking place at each hosts nation. The African Shield competition is at 80cm level.
It was very exciting riding in Zimbabwe, most of my team and I rode on borrowed horses and one took her own horse up. I am fortunate enough to have a lot of experience riding unknown horses at Eventing shows. Getting on a horse you don’t know and riding it in a event the following day is not a easy thing.
I rode a lovely bay thoroughbred named Perfect Storm, He is quite hot and quirky. He is not the biggest but has a lot of heart. Even though he is not a spring chicken anymore at the ripe age of 18, he still has plenty of life in him. There was quite the variety of horses in our team ranging from well schooled to kind of ride-able but everyone did a great job of riding the horse that they were on.
I arrived on the Wednesday to prepare as best I could for the event. On the Thursday we tried our horses, settled in a bit and got to know everyone on the team. It was a great team chosen for this event and we all got along well. The event was held at the amazing Azuluna Farm in Harare, a beautiful piece of land with lots of hills and trees. The Thursday evening we did all our registrations for the event at the events cocktail party. On the Friday we all did our Dressage, everyone rode really well, some of us had some tense tests as our horses were more interested in the Cross Country than the Dressage, we also walked our Cross Country course on Friday afternoon. It was a lovely track with nice jumps, the going was a little bit boggy on some places where the ground was water logged but otherwise it was a great track. Come Sunday we did our Cross Country there were quite a lot of falls and eliminations on our track but the whole team managed to go clear and most of us inside the time. South Africa was leading the team challenge after Cross Country which was great. On the Sunday we had our Show Jumping and prize giving. I sadly took a pole in my round and dropped down to 4th as a individual rider and another team mate also took a pole but South Africa managed to still pull it together for a win. The Shield (80cm) and the Cup (1*) teams both managed to walk away with wins. On the Monday after the most amazing and fun weekend I sadly had to fly back home, This is one venue that will definitely see me again in the future.