How fateful the last sentence of my previous blog proved to be!! Addington CDI was supposed to kick start the 2013 season. The night before we were due to leave my lorry was fully packed, I’d crammed in extra training
sessions with Erik, Sophie was beyond excited that we were finally off to
another show and I really felt that‘P’ and I were ready to strut our stuff……that is until the moment that Hannah(Biggs) rang to ask if I was still going to the CDI because of the EHV risk. Withdrawals had started in the Grand Prix, with the start list quickly resembling a landslide, as individuals concerns grew over the risk to the horses being stabled together whilst reports of outbreaks of the EHV virus rumbled. It’s so disappointing to
have to withdraw from a show when you feel fit and raring to go…….but much better to keep the horses safe and well to fight another day. More than anything I really feel for the organisation committee at Addington, so much effort, hard work and a real disappointment for them too. I’m a bit of a believer in fate though – so not wanting to tempt it, suffice to say I’m going to another show soon and I’ll let you know about it afterwards!
With a tiny uplift in the weather and the Easter holidays in full swing I have started advertising some of the horses that I produce for sale. I always have five or six for sale but over the winter months I tend to hack them a lot and focus on their training, only really starting to advertise now. Jade (my other full time member of staff along with Sophie) has been chosen to take the place of David Bailey as in house photographer. I tried to sell it to her as a highly prestigious job but I don’t think that she relished the selection……! I’m not a very patient model and must confess to hollering instructions continually about resetting the camera, when to take a shot, which is the best angle etc etc. Our most recent photo shoot has mainly highlighted one thing though. I MUST learn to lift my damn chin up. A hundred or so photos can’t be wrong. It’s not 'coincidence’ that it’s glued to my chest in all of them. That is combined with the unavoidable truth that I always ride around catching flies with my mouth open……hence the month of April is now dedicated to working on my position. Erik is a real stickler for a correct classical position and when I focus on it, it seems
without even trying there is always a huge improvement in my horse’s balance and way of going. My stirrups are relegated to the back of the tack room and my pony tail may even be tied to the back waistband of my breeches……potentially drastic but, no pain no gain!
Talking of breeches, I haverecently agreed a great sponsorship deal with EquiRex, a Dutch clothing company that not only produces beautiful equestrian wear but also has a wonderful earth conscious ethos. The attention to detail in terms of design is gorgeous, the clothes wear beautifully and the company has a fair labour policy and only uses fabrics which have a low environmental impact such as merino wool and certified organic cotton. This makes them a great brand to be associated with and definitely makes them top of the savvy and stylish shoppers list. Having been spoilt rotten with lots of lovely new breeches and tops, now I just have to convince someone at Laurent Perrier that they’d like to sponsor me too………
A lack of shows has meant plenty of time at home to focus on training. B is starting to calm down with a change in the weather and I hope that over the summer months I can get his brain firmly on the job. I’ve been jumping and hacking him a lot and am considering braving a jumping show for his
first outing – perhaps because I’m allowed to wear a martingale and any other tack I like to maintain control! I think giving the horses an all-round education makes them so much better in the long run. A lot of my schooling is done outside the ménage – I don’t have an indoor school or even a ménage that’s exactly 20x60m but I’m lucky to have a full mile of all-weather gallops (the stables I rent used to be a racing yard) up a long sloping hill and 100 or so acres of fields that I can school in. I have worked Seb a lot in this way, trotting and cantering slowly up and down the hills. He’s a fantastic moving horse but at his vast size, with a huge engine, his balance is often compromised. I feel the hill work helps to teach him to engage and hold himself upright, on his own legs, without
using the rider for support…….but it’s not a plan for the faint hearted as over excitement sometimes means control can be a limited concept. At that point I imagine I hear Erik’s voice resounding in my head as we
career towards a hedge…’upper body back, sit up, use your upper body like a lever.’ Sometimes closing my eyes and hoping that I’ll make the turn in time works just as well though!
Recently I have also taken a rare weekend away from the horses with my boyfriend and been to visit a great friend of mine, Jemma, in Dorset, for an idyllic country weekend with friends. Jemma is the real deal – a proper shepherd with 450 lambing ewes that constantly bleat for her attention and I’m convinced that they all see her as the ‘mother ship.’ Watching lambs skip around in the fields definitely makes you feel like spring has arrived, although mucking out sheep pens feels a little too much like the day job! Drinking too much wine, eating my own bodyweight in cake and roast dinners (Jemma’s choice of home grown lamb rib might make you a little squeamish) is certainly good for the soul. It’s brilliant to get away sometimes and have some non-horsey time and afterwards I always tackle the new week with renewed enthusiasm. I’m really excited to be filming with Horse Hero this week – so it’s probably best to get away from the computer and back into the ménage to start practising…..