In The Saddle column: Onto a winner with a great ride!

Anita Marsh with April.
Anita Marsh with April.
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It's really been one busy competitive season this year and last weekend was no exception.

I haven't taken my big mare 'April Surprise' out since we competed in our prelim dressage test earlier this summer.

Anita rides to victory on April.

Anita rides to victory on April.

Much of my focus has centred around my daughter competing Jazz, the pony, and also getting out my little spotty yearling Sully.

So it's always wonderful to take my mare out and get some competitions under our belt.

This time we decided we would go showjumping at Sykehouse Arena, not far from the Isle.

We've been practicing our jumping at home on grass in preparation for the show, but we hadn't jumped more than once a week as I didn't want her to become stale.

We headed out to Sykehouse, a lovely equestrian competition centre run by the very friendly Nicola Stevenson and her daughter Ellie.

April and I used the 55cm class to get going. I always find April is awful in the first round, feeling like she will refuse the first half of the course and having to be ridden strongly into each fence. We had one unlucky pole down in the jump-off but managed to take fourth place.

We then went into the 65 class and she was absolutely flying, with her tail swishing I felt completely in tune with her as we cantered around the course, clearing everything in sight. In the jump-off she was the same.

She was out to win and she wasn't the only one who wanted it, but there were some fast riders out there, who were quicker against the clock.

Despite owning April some years, she amazingly has never brought home a 'first' rosette. Imagine my surprise when we won! Trust me, it hasn't happened before.

Country Pursuits took an awesome photo which I will treasure to this day.

In fact I'm still grinning now and I'll be taking her jumping again soon. Much to April's delight.

SNOW GO: The train will leave whether it snows or not.

Days Out: The Santa Express on the North York Moors Railway