And so it begins.
The eventing season.
It has been a long, cold and wet winter, and I think all of us horse owners have questioned our sanity on numerous occasions!
But the weather is now picking up, the gateways are drying out, and we can actually feel our fingers when we are onboard!
So I finished last season on a massive high. I was selected to represent Great Britain at the Young Event Horse Championships at Le Lion d’Angers in France with a lovely mare, ‘You’ve Got The Lux’, or ‘Perfect Poppy’ as she is known at home. I bought her in 2016 and she has been a dream to educate and bring up the ranks. She did a lovely test, jumped a cool clear showjumping round, and flew clear round the cross country, which meant we finished in a respectable 10th place. It was an amazing venue, very buzzy and great experience for Poppy. We are aiming for another trip there with her this year, alongside a new exciting horse I have which I’ll tell you about later. And surprisingly my right side of the road driving was tres bon…….although I did hear Jo, my groom, muttering now and again about feeling faint and having hot sweats…
Anyway, moving on.
The horses have all trained well over winter despite the weather and ground conditions. I know I’ve moaned about that already, I won’t mention it again.
I am based near Somerford Park in Cheshire, which is an outstanding equestrian training venue with excellent facilities which means I can school my horses year round. We’ve done lots of indoor showjumping, and they’ve even had the dressage saddles on several times whilst I’ve been trying to coordinate my weight, legs, hands, upper body and everything else I get shouted at for in order to practise smooth lateral work….who says men can’t multitask! A couple of them have been out hunting too, it gives them confidence to go forward and be brave.
Our first event in the 2018 season was Oasby in Lincolnshire with the new horse I mentioned earlier, ‘Novaturient’. He is owned by Jon Shorrock and Sabine Douglas. He set the bar high with a lovely test of 24.5 in the BE100, and then went on to jump double clears adding just 12 XC time penalties which still put him in first place in his first ever event. Jon and Sabine were there to see their talented young horse make a great start to his career.
‘You’ve Got The Lux’ was next on and never wanting to be left out strutted her stuff and produced a smart 28.2 test, unluckily rolled a showjumping pole, but positively skipped clear round the cross country course finishing in 2nd place overall. At only 7 years old she is now an Advanced horse and we have high hopes for ‘Perfect Poppy’.
I couldn’t have hoped for a better start to the season and I am now definitely in the groove! We all have hopes and expectations at this time of the year and sadly sometimes we come crashing down in more ways than one…..it’s always hard to know if we have done enough preparation over the winter months.
Next on the calendar was Lincoln, ‘Novaturient’ again did a lovely test, clear showjumping and a very mature cross country round to finish in 5th place. Unfortunately due to the snow the rest of the event was abandoned so ‘You’ve Got The Lux’ never got the chance to play out and we all had a duvet day!
Next stop for ‘Novaturient’ will be the Novice at Weston Park in April and ‘You’ve Got The Lux’ is heading to Burnham Market for her first CIC2*.
And it’s nearly time to get my brave pants on! I have been invited to ride a fabulous little racehorse called ‘Alright Chief’ owned by two good friends of mine, Steve Evason and Dave Bostock, in the Amateur Jockeys race at the Cheshire Forest Point to Point meet at Tabley in April. I have had some experience of riding racehorses, I used to be amateur jockey for National Hunt trainer David Nicholson, but it was a good few years ago when I was a young carefree lad!!
Whilst I am on the subject of racehorses I’m sad to hear that The Racehorse Sanctuary down in Somerset is in financial difficulties. My family have owned several Point to Point horses over the years, most of which are now pets at home with us or have gone on to do other things when their racing days have ended. A lot of ex racers have very successful second careers, including Gemma Tattersalls 4* horse Arctic Soul and Boyd Martins 4* horse Blackfoot Mystery. Unfortunately not everyone is in a position to keep them indefinitely which is why The Racehorse Sanctuary is so very important to these horses. They have a fundraising campaign going on at the moment so please share their Facebook page and get the word out there.
And ‘Alright Chief’ won his last race so we know he can do it! But can I ??!! God loves a trier…..watch this space!