What a great end to the season - finishing with my first international win and even better that it was with V.I.P Vinnie. He was on top form and it was the run we needed to finish the season confidently. No surprise that the weather was not on Bicton’s side but they managed to pull off a full weekends competition and I was so glad to be running on the Sunday rather than the Saturday.
We are pleased to say that Vinnie has been given the all clear and his bloods are now back to normal. He feels very much back to his normal cocky self and looks really well. He has had his first clip ready for the CCI3*S at Bicton in a couple of weeks. His withdrawal from Blenheim has extended his season by 5 weeks which is unfortunate but he will still have plenty of time to relax and prepare for next season.
When the test was finished and I halted I looked up at the screen with the movement marks on and saw lots of 7’s and 8’s and was pleasantly surprised - it had felt a nice test but I wasn’t expecting the 24.2 and into the lead that we got. It was very exciting to have been overnight leader and with the field to come I certainly didn’t expect to stay up there.
On the hottest day for a while we had 3 horses running at Wellington Horse Trials. As Somerford had been cancelled it was now Ballycoog Breaker Boys first Intermediate, The Partner’s first run since Hartpury and V.I.P Vinnie’s first run since Bramham. They had all been cross country schooling recently and all felt on top form.
I had my usual monthly lessons with John Bowen last week.
As always the horses went well once he picked up on the fact that my legs were creeping up so slightly unbalancing me which is why the horses hadn’t been going quite as well for the previous week as they had been prior to this.
It is amazing how something so small can have such an impact on the horses performance - I knew it was something to do with me as it was all the horses but hadn’t been able to pinpoint it. It is so easy to beat yourself up about it as I slightly feel that my training of the horses hadn’t been as good as it should have been. However, with 2 living beings working together we are both bound to have knock on effects to each other both good and bad.
As we mentioned in the last journal Dom is recovering from his operation. He has been a very good patient on his 2 weeks box rest with 30 minutes hand grazing per day. He has the ARC Equine on 3 times a day and a specific program has been set for him to aid his recovery.
The vets have been out to change his dressing and as the wound has healed so well he is now in stable bandages, with a few hours a day without them on. This is so his leg gets used to not relying on tight bandaging for support.
William was class - despite the fact that I came out of the dressage saying this, that and the other he obviously did well as he scored 23.5. He has strengthened up well during his rest and he show jumped well and put in a very confident run cross country and made it feel very easy. I just kept him in a good rhythm moving forward which he found easy and we came in with 2 time penalties to take the WIN.
We can't believe that the 1st half of the season is over and that all the horses are now having some down time as is Will. All in all the first half has been successful. All the horses have achieved their various qualifications in order to go to their end of season goals and Vinnie is now qualified for Badminton next year!!!
My initial thought about the course was that it was really quite big, very technical and undulating with a long pull at the end of the course. There were a lot of questions and I can now see why everyone says that it is a truly testing course.
This is our first trip out of the UK - not exactly far but a good place to start learning about travelling horses long distance. We had to remember passports not only for the horses but us and the dogs too!!! I think some people may bypass the dog passports but knowing our luck we would be checked so better safe than sorry!!!
Excited to be launching The Vault on 25th May it is my online Training and Mentorship platform. This is aimed at new and aspiring Eventers up to Novice level. There will be tutorial videos, private Facebook group, Facebook hot seat Q and A, checklists, monthly interviews with industry greats and much more. There is also the opportunity for me to act as Mentor to some riders. The idea is that those that sign up will request training topics that they would find helpful and I will then do training videos accordingly.
Wednesday John Bowen was with us for the day - training myself and all the horses - they all had a dressage and SJ lesson except Ted who just had a jump lesson. Ted is an exciting prospect and always puts a smile on my face - I have to keep reminding myself that I did buy him specifically to sell - luckily I never said when….! He is beginning to get a bit of attitude which I like but also is working very well on a daily basis. He will continue to be developed until I am away at the end of May when he will have a few weeks off.
It has to be said that the start of the season hasn’t gone as I had envisaged it - It is so frustrating when you know how good they are and yet you can’t produce it when you need to - but I guess no one ever said it was easy training and competing horses and of course they do have their own mind!! Comfort must be taken for what you know they can produce and believe that it will come once they and I settle back into competing.
We were both having such a fun round and really enjoying ourselves but me being me got a bit complacent and forgot to use my legs on a left handed combination fence. - Vinnie couldn’t make it on 3 but there wasn’t enough room for 4 strides, being too close Vinnie took evasive action and I went out the side door. Needless to say neither Vinnie or I were amused but nothing worse than 2 dented prides. I must learn to ride every fence on every XC round as I did a similar thing the other year - Hopefully this will sharpen me up before Belton in 2 weeks.
One of our horses has had a sarcoid on his belly just where his girth is. We have been using the ARC to remove it and it has been doing a fantastic job. The ARC works by pushing the sarcoid out of the body and this is what was happening. For other parts of the body this is great and then it falls off but due to the pressure of the girth the sarcoid was becoming sore despite the sheepskin girth protectors. We reluctantly had to make the decision to have this removed with a laser.
Mum and I went to Wellington Equestrian where Ingrid was doing a MasterClass demonstration all day on Saturday.
As we had hoped it revolved around her training methods with cavalettis. She worked with a mixture of Event and Dressage riders and the benefits of this aspect of training was clearly visible. I have always been aware how good this gymnastic training is and do a certain amount of it but have always felt that we haven’t maximised it. It was fascinating to have the chance to watch this and take away so many training tips.
Monday morning was no lie in with the first lesson at 8.30am. To get the most out of these lessons I had to make sure I was fully charged up and ready to go - porridge with syrup and chopped apple started the day - Harriet Upton (we are athletes) was also training there so was over seeing my food intake!!
At the beginning of November it was nice to get a long weekend in Oliva Nova seeing friends who were on a Show Jumping tour. Still surrounded by horses but with no responsibility, just watching from afar.
Looking back at the season it has been a good year in many ways particularly in the horses development from start to finish. Some results were so near to being big ones! The horses may not have been big wins but they have had their own achievements which are good building blocks for the future.
This is becoming too regular - I started the week sitting in a meeting all day. This is very alien to me and I find it strange not being outside in the yard. This was planning the next few months website changes and social media structure combined with new plans for the new year. More news on this over the next few months!!
We had a quiet beginning of the week but Monday and Tuesday was spent unpacking and faffing around from Osberton - we usually unpack the day we get back but as we weren’t back home until 10.30 this really wasn’t very appealing having been away for 5 days!
It never ceases to amaze me how my body being out affects the horses performance so much and vice versa. I started going to Lynne a few years ago and we are now working on different aspects of the bodies energy to which we were when I started. We are now working on keeping a constant level of self belief rather than the roller coaster that can happen.
We had an early start for Stardom’s competition at Goring Heath and were finished by 10am - I much prefer cracking on with the competition days rather than hang around for the later times. It seemed strange leaving in the dark and slightly nippy in temperature showing that Autumn is around the corner.