May was my personal deadline for finding my Olympic partner - and despite everyone's obvious concern as the days passed I tried not to panic. I tried to keep myself busy and fit by extra sessions with Michelle Cogger and Metal Mickey - which has proved to be a tremendous help with my position and straightness.
A number of horses were offered for me to try and honestly I would have pleased to ride any of them and I was bowled over by the generosity of their owners but an advert on the British Dressage website did the trick in the end... a telephone call from Heather Bennett in Yorkshire made me put all other plans on hold to drive up with friend Judy Lord to see her and meet her two lovely horses Rhapsody and Cocon. This was a very interesting and exciting opportunity as Heather, a para rider herself (grade 3) was willing to loan me one of her horses with the other standing by as reserve should anything unforeseen happen! We chatted and chatted that day - Heather having been an international show jumper and I - having worked with international show jumpers - had quite a lot in common. Plans were made and the wheels were set in motion for me to collect Rhapsody, a lovely chestnut gelding with a good track record - especially in freestyles - just as soon as we tied up all the necessary paperwork... insurance, lease agreement etc.
So on the 23rd May I drove back to Yorkshire - again with Judy ( I was so grateful for her company on these journeys) - having never been so far north before - now twice in a month!
Rhapsody is staying at Sally and Eric George's yard and their help and support has - as previously with Brodie - been such a boost for me! He settled in really well and especially likes his field buddy Ali - doesn't turn an eye at the chickens in the yard and hacks out through the neighbouring woods and lanes as though he has lived there for years! Such a treat!
But no time to rest on our laurels - I know I have to make every day from now on count - big time. A call from Andrew gave me dates for our initial training session followed by some intense training at a clinic run by the TTT at the Unicorn Trust in Stow on the Wold followed by a similar one near Oxford. Three days intensive training - an ideal way to get to know each other and make real progress. It was a complete success!! Not only did Rhapsody and I gel as each session passed but I got to know what he was like to deal with in strange environments - away from home etc etc. He was just perfect!
Don't let me lead you to believe that during this whole time all had gone quiet on the LOCOG front - filling in forms, responding to endless emails - as it didn't. Regine in the VI had a 2.5 hour conference call with LOCOG which resulted in ever more questions, forms, requirements - this part of our journey is becoming an endurance competition!!
But with a lovely horse in the stable that I can't wait to ride each day, I will now deal with the paperwork with pleasure...