Wolf teeth, Wellington Horse Trials and the Blenheim Ballot

Equine Dentist……….

Gemma English came and gave the horses their 6 monthly routine dentist check. It’s great when they all get a clean bill of health and we just need to keep an eye on Ted’s wolf teeth which may need to come out in the winter.

Somerford Cancelled………….

It wasn’t surprising that Somerford was cancelled but it was still a real shame that they had to as it is an event I really look forward to. It was to be V.I.P Vinnie’s first run since Bramham and was to be Ballycoog Breaker Boys first Intermediate, and The Partner’s easy run following Hartpury’s disappointment in the XC. Mum and Immy were so glad they cancelled in the morning so at least they hadn’t plaited up!!

However, the International Competition was continuing and Immy went up to do her first CIC**S with her horse Dini. Frustratingly she was leading the dressage when they decided to cancel all the international competition as well. It’s such a shame for all those who organised Somerford as they had put so much hard work into it. We are looking forward to next year already.


It’s great that we are now back at Nicky Henderson’s Gallops as they had closed for a couple of weeks whilst they resurfaced them. We use some others when necessary but our fitness training is all set around Nicky Henderson’s gallops in Lambourn.

Luck was on our side……….

The living water pump on the lorry had broken and it was with great dread that we took it in to be fixed. So often you take these lorries in for a fix and then find out that it is not as straightforward as first thought. There is no set format of how they are made so it is anyone’s guess what wires go where. It was a huge relief for all that it was a simple replacement and the new one slotted in easily. This makes a nice change!!!!

Mr Positive………..

I always love it when Gavin (Horse Osteopath) comes to treat the horses as I know they will be in a better place after their treatment. Also, both he and his wife Annabelle are so positive about the horses and everything else that once they have been there is a new positivity in the air at the yard. The Partner has been using himself so correctly recently that he was muscularly sore, which, in hindsight, we think is the reason for his performance in the cross country at Hartpury. He has been much more relaxed since Gavin’s visit and back on jumping form. Ted’s back had got slightly stuck behind the saddle for the same reason, which made him really not want to work over his back which is so unlike him. He is always so willing to work with, ears forward and lots of enthusiasm. At least this means it is easy to know if something isn’t quite right. We had given him some extra time off and also lunged for a few days allowing him to use his back without the weight of a rider. It’s just where their muscles aren’t able to support what they are trying to achieve, as they are not strong enough. Louis, who is in for schooling, had been finding it very difficult to work over his back and into a level contact as he had never been taught how to. He naturally works inverted which makes it all very difficult for him. Since Gavin’s treatment this has much improved and he is going back home a lot more supple and connected and is now able to work more correctly. This will make it much easier for him to develop and strengthen. I look forward to him coming back in a couple of months time.

The Vault filming…………..

We filmed the latest series of videos with Lindsey for The Vault - my online training programme. The topic is different polework exercises. This had been requested on The Vault facebook group. This will be coming out during September and hope everyone enjoys and benefits from it. We will then be filming XC training in an arena which will be useful for everyone to practice during the winter months when the XC courses are too wet to work on.!!

Time out……….

It was very nice to have a couple of days with some time off the yard as Missy, my sister who lives in London,came home for her birthday. This was a real treat as she is usually planning nights out and week long partying!!! However, she decided this year to change tact and it was lovely to spend time with her at home. We had a shopping afternoon on the Friday which was meant to be for her but I managed to hi Jack it and come home with some bags. This was followed by dinner out at The Marlborough in Marlborough with friends and family. I highly recommend it the food was amazing. Saturday Mum and Missy had a girls day out and went to a spa and Sunday I took the morning off and we had a long country walk followed by drinks in the pub and a BBQ. Sadly Mum and I then had to go back to the yard to plait up 3 horses and get ready for the competition at Wellington on Bank Holiday Monday.

Held on course, not once but twice………

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.

Ballycoog Breaker Boy warming up at Wellington horse trials

Ballycoog Breaker Boy warming up at Wellington horse trials

The day started with a 2.30 alarm clock, to get to the yard, load up and luckily only travel 1 hour. Immy was doing morning stables before joining us around 10am to help with the change over of horses and washing down etc. We were walking the course by 6am and both the Intermediate and Advanced tracks were very strong, which I had forgotten from previous years. There were many questions and combinations throughout and non stop to the last fence. Ballycoog Breaker Boy was first on and did a decent enough test but a little tight and tense as being 17HH+ he really does find the small arenas hard work. He is also getting a little cocky and wanting to bound on!!! We were first in the show jumping arena which didn’t go to plan - having been jumping well all season he had 3 down. He never really got stuck in and just wasn’t really taking me - the atmosphere was so quiet as it was early and I think his adrenalin never kicked in - more practice on grass before Gatcombe! However, he redeemed himself and gave me an incredible clear cross country and he felt very much at home.

Ballycoog Breaker Boy - so neat coming out of the water

Ballycoog Breaker Boy - so neat coming out of the water

V.I.P Vinnie - was badly behaved in the dressage warm up, totally over excited and was seen bronking across the warm up which wasn’t what I had expected. I would say we “survived” the test. Show jumping was totally different and his excitement was channelled into one of his best rounds and came out with a great clear. Before we got out on the XC course it had already been held twice and I was 6th to go!!! Vinnie was totally focused and up for it and the first 4 fences gave me huge confidence for the rest of the course. Just before fence 5 we were held which filled me with dread,as when we were last held, at Chatsworth last year, he just switched off and I knew fence 6 included a coffin which Vinnie can back off. We were held for about 10 minutes - luckily there was some shade so I was able to keep him out of the sun. I took him as far back as I could to give him a good run up to fence 5 which he jumped well enough but he had lost his focus and his adrenaline had dropped. It wasn’t far until the combination fence and as much as I tried to get him focused and get the coffin canter that was needed I never got it. Sadly, we were a bit long and off the upright so dived over the rail and he caught his leg and slightly studded his chest. The frangible pin worked which I am grateful for but as he stopped in front of the ditch I went out the side door. My first concern was of course for Vinnie and after the vets had checked him it was decided that he should be taken back in the first aid trailer as there was some blood coming from his wound. I am pleased to say that his wound was cleaned out with solution and a couple of stitches popped in.

Ballycoog Breaker Boy bossing the water

Ballycoog Breaker Boy bossing the water

Antibiotics and bute were given as a precaution. I am very grateful for the medical care he was given. He will be absolutely fine. Luckily the wound was shallow and in a fleshy part between his front legs so we can carry on working in walk, trot and canter just no lateral work jumping or gallops or anything that will stretch that area. Lots learn ‘t, as always when one makes a mistake and maybe a couple of sharp smacks and a kick before I jumped fence 5 may have helped to get him back into the zone. We will be cross country training soon as his next competition is Blenheim 4*!!

The partner flying at fence 3

The partner flying at fence 3

The Partner’s test was good for him and I made sure I didn’t interfere - his canter work is still a little tense but when I think back to where he was a year ago I couldn’t be more pleased. He then also did one of his best show jumping rounds followed by a confident ride around the Advanced cross country track and he gave me a really good ride. Unbelievably I was also held on course with him as well. I couldn’t believe twice in 1 day - I have only ever been held once before in all the years I have been competing!! It was in a better location than the stop with Vinnie - we were held for 22 minutes. I was given a 2 minute warning this time to warm up which was very helpful. The Partner clicked straight back in and remained focused for the rest of the course. This was a relief to feel as he had never been held before so I didn’t know what I was going to have under me. I was really chuffed with him and his hard work was rewarded with a 7th place in the 8/9 year old Advanced.

The partner chilling after his 7th place at Wellington Advanced

The partner chilling after his 7th place at Wellington Advanced

Blenheim Ballot ………

We and everyone else had a frustrating week to find out if we had got into Blenheim Horse Trials or not. Due to the large entries they were having to ballot both classes. It is all done on FEI points plus allowances for foreign riders. V.I.P Vinnie has got into the 4*L which he did last year and we are looking for a good result and clear XC. Sadly, The Partner is 19th on the waitlist so we very much doubt he will get in. This is a real shame as we have been working towards this all year. It is the 8/9 year old 4*S and sadly he will be too old for it next year. It is a lesson learnt as there have been a couple of International competitions where if I had not made a wrong judgement he would have picked up valuable FEI points so would have been higher up the list and would have got in. It’s frightening how long down the road these errors can still catch you out!!! As it is so late in the season we are unable to run him at a 4* as we are already committed the weekends where there are a couple abroad. We will just have to come out fighting early next year, where he will be stronger and better having had the winter to work without the stress of competition.

Further Training lessons with John…..

As always we had a successful day training with John Bowen. All the horses had a flat work lesson and all bar Vinnie had a jump lesson in the afternoon. It is amazing what you can do with 2 fences - each horse worked with them with different exercises individually tailored to what they need at the moment. We will next see John at Blenheim where he will warm Vinnie and I up and we will walk the course more times than I care to imagine and also the same with the SJ on the Sunday. It is great to have his support at these top competitions and combined with the rest of the team gives me so much more confidence than if I was doing them on my own. It is great to have someone with so much knowledge and experience to bounce ideas and discuss options!

John Bowen explaining the reason for jumping this fence

John Bowen explaining the reason for jumping this fence

Management Meeting...

The last three weeks were finished with a “management” meeting to discuss social media, The Vault and general Admin. This is not a meeting I look forward to particularly as put me in an office and I tend to switch off - just like in the classroom at school!!!!!

Lovely to have him back……..

It is great news that we have been given the all clear to start riding Stardom again. He has been such a great patient while he has been recovering from his surgery on his leg to have a bone growth removed. We are going to bring him back slowly rather than rush back just for one competition at the end of the season. So we have started with the 20 minutes walk a day and build up from there. I am already looking forward to him competing next year.

Next up - Gatcombe, Blenheim.