FOXHAM eventer Georgie Spence will be hoping the weather is a little kinder to her sport in 2013, as she looks to make an impression in major competition, writes Sam Morshead.
The 22-year-old, who shot to public attention in 2009 when as a teenager she took two horses round the Badminton cross-country circuit inside the allotted time, endured a frustrating 2012.
Like many others, Spence’s ambitions fell victim to a seemingly non-stop bombardment of rain throughout the year, which forced the cancellation of Badminton and many other high-profile dates in the sport’s calendar.
Spence illustrated just how irritating a prolonged wet spell can be for a rider, how it can affect a horse’s development and short-term potential and how the elements test an eventer mentally.
Speaking at her frost-bitten Lock Farm base, however, the former Stonar School pupil stressed that dealing with the weather is part and parcel of life as a rider in England.
“There are lucky people who have lucky schools who stay nice and warm and dry,” she said.
“Certainly this last year I have found you end up going to a lot more dressage or jumping competitions or just working them at home and you can’t get out.
“A couple of times we were so flooded here that we couldn’t get out, which is a complete nightmare but you just deal with it.
“It’s the sport and it’s the country. It is frustrating if a horse is peaked and you’re ready to go to the event and it’s cancelled and that’s when you think ‘oh dear’.
“If you’re looking at preparation events and two of them get cancelled, you’re thinking ‘oh god, where am I going to go next? How can I prepare?’ That’s the biggest thing, if you end up getting to an event and thinking ‘am I not prepared?’
“But at the end of the day it’s a sport and I think we have just as many that we get to and the ground is hard and you think you shouldn’t run.
“We just had a lot more wet conditions last year.”
Despite being marooned at her stables near Lyneham in 2012 after heavy rainfall, Spence says she wouldn’t want to be located anywhere else. And she is hoping for a positive 12 months – with the return of Badminton a welcome highlight.
“Wiltshire and near Gloucestershire is a really good location because all the events are within two hours. I’m lucky in that sense,” she said.
“My horse is going to Badminton again, as long as it doesn’t rain again, and we’re looking forward to the year.”