Hello everybody, it has been a minute since my last blog!
I have had the most exciting 2 months, and I can't wait to share my news with you all. But first, if you are new here, I recommend reading my blog from one year ago named 'The heartbreak that is horses' for some context.
Hello friends, it is so nice to be writing to you all again. I have been quiet on the blog posts about myself for over 6 months now, and that is not without reason... I left off a year ago with the words 'they say miracles can happen right?!', but I don't think even 'past Liza' knew what the universe had in store!
My story all started with an instagram message in November of 2019 from fellow Lumiere sponsored rider Amy Gotts-Wheeler. Amy mentioned that they were looking to privately sell her top young eventing superstar Sharvalley Thunder, and wondered if I may be interested. Unfortunately, I wasn't yet in the position to be able to purchase any new horses, and I distinctly remember telling my friend that I really felt like I was passing up a big opportunity. You can probably imagine how disappointed I was to have to reply saying we weren't ready to look yet!
Fast forward a few months to February (pre-covid), and I was finally in a position to start looking for my next best friend. I looked around in the UK, but I just couldn't seem to find anything that I clicked with. The only pre-requisites I really had was nice on the flat (as this is my favourite phase), a careful showjumper, ability to go 'all the way' and not above 12 years old, easy enough right?!?
Eventually, I managed to organise a last minute flight back to Australia to have a look at some horses, and luckily the Gotts-Wheeler family hadn't properly looked at selling Thunder so he was still on the market. We were determined to look at as many horses that fit the pre-requisites as we could in the 4 days I had, and booked in all around the country with my fantastic coach Amber Cargill and 'second mum' Cherie Baines. We looked at Thunder the day I landed, and then the others.
It soon became clear to us as our trip continued that my perfect horse was the one that had been in the back of my mind since November. So back to ride Thunder we went, and, that was that! I am joking, this crazy thing called a global pandemic happened, and life suddenly didn't seem so straight forward.
Horse flights were put on hold and I was physically stuck in the UK locked down at Hartpury campus. This period was not a good time to be looking for a horse, and it was a pretty tumultuous era (although very minor in the grand scheme of things outside of the horse world. In reality I was healthy and happy, so I really am not complaining). There were a few super uncertain months there, but eventually, I was able to get back to Australia to be with my new superstar.
'Trust the process' was such an important phrase to me in the last year, as there were truly times I thought I'd throw in the towel and call it a day, especially after Ollie's injury. I am so glad I didn't and we powered on through, and I can confidently say I finally feel at peace after a year of stress and worry. I now have the most incredible team of two greys, with Ollie already having a play at competing in the UK.
Ollie and his 'English mum' Sarah making their dressage debut.
Thunder and I are already enjoying great success in both the competition arena and at home here in Aus. I think my friends are already sick of me excitedly calling them after every ride! I have never before had the opportunity to sit on such a talented powerhouse, he is so much fun. I know he has the talent for the top, and can't wait for the worldly journey we have awaiting.
Of course, there are still the little things to sort through, like figuring out when it is most beneficial for us to head back to the UK, booking said flight for horse and human, quarantine x 2, pray to whoever is above for no more plain injuries and try my hardest to stop thinking about Ollie every second of every day. Seriously though... I miss him! But, when you climb a mountain as we have, these things all seem a little less stressful.
I know there are a lot of young riders who read these blogs, so in true 'Liza fashion', I'd like to leave you with what I have learnt in the last year. Thunder did not come as easily as I perhaps thought my next horse would. We have worked tirelessly and without a break for years to make said dream happen, and it was really on the basis of a miracle this year that I could financially make this work. In hindsight, the journey was pretty scary. There were many rejections, close calls and a lot of networking, but I had to trust that I would make my dream come true one way or another. Eventually, the universe threw me a life-line, and I truly believe that was on the basis of our unwavering tenacity.
I implore you to wake up each day with a vision, network, work tirelessly, say yes to all opportunities and see where that leads you. Maybe you too will find your unicorn at the end of the rainbow.
Thunder on his way to another placing. Photo thanks to Evanna malkoc.
Before I finish this off, I would like to thank the Gotts-Wheeler family with my whole heart. I am so lucky to have been able to secure Amy a share in Thunder, so this journey will not be done alone. Here's to a fantastic future.
I also want to thank you, the readers, for your support in the last year. You are all the reason such an opportunity presented itself, and for that, I am forever grateful.
Finally, too Lumiere, it is very rare for a Young Rider my age to find such a supportive sponsor who wants to help us succeed in the sport. I am so lucky and at a loss for words to express my gratitude.
Until we speak again...