We’ve been really busy recently, and all the horses are looking fab on their Dengie feeding plans.
Enzo and I had a great trip to Bexhill Horse Show, he went double clear in both classes, coming 4th and 5th and qualified for the National Amateur Championships at Aintree Equestrian Centre at the end of the year.
I like to keep busy, so with my cousin I recently rode the entire length of the South Downs Way – 100 miles from Winchester to Eastbourne – on Pride, my cob x Irish Draught and Rupert, my cousin Tara’s New Forest cross. It took us three days to four days to complete the journey, and we stayed in a mix of B&Bs and camping. We did the ride just for fun, but are now planning another long distance ride in the autumn that we’ll do for charity.
Of course I can’t forget Mo, my six-year-old mare, who not to be left out recently won her class at the Heathfield Show.
We’ve had a quiet summer so far because poor Finley is just finishing a long two months of box rest following an injury. I’m preparing him to move into a small paddock as the next stage in his rehab, but his long-term prognosis is still quite uncertain, and we won’t know more until we begin to bring him back into work. I’m taking each day as it comes, and have accepted that we may need to rethink his career plans and step down from some activities. I’ve made some tweaks to his diet, swapping his Alfa A molasses free to Alfa A lite + balancer and soaked hay, which has helped him maintain a good weight and, luckily, for now he’s in good spirits. Hopefully I’ll have some better news next time!
Although I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked and trained on large commercial yards, where I’ve gained a diverse range of skills and experiences, I’ve always wanted to have my own set-up. Recently the chance came for me and my husband to live in a small cottage with its own private equestrian facilities, so we took the plunge and I managed to realise a childhood fantasy. My horses, Arty and Ben, and a friend’s pony, Frodo, are very settled and I don’t think I’ll ever tire of being able to see the stables from my bedroom window!
It’s been a lot of work to get everything in order, so competing has taken a back seat so far this year. Ben is 24 now, so is mostly just hero-worshipped nowadays, but I’ve managed to use the time with Arty to improve his training and fitness. It’s not all been homework, though, and I have managed to get out to some showjumping shows. We had a great weekend at the David Broome Event Centre for the Welsh Masters, and I’ve got some summer shows in the diary, with the aim of ticking off my double clears for 2020, as well as planning to get back out eventing this autumn. I’ve also got quite a bit of teaching coming up, including Pony Club camps, which are always great fun. Then this autumn I’ll begin the final year of my degree in Equine Therapy and Rehabilitation at Moreton Morrell, so attention will be directed towards reading around my dissertation.
After some advice from the helpful nutrition team at Dengie, I introduced Performance Plus Balancer into the horses’ diet, complementing their staple Alfa A and grass nuts. Ben maintained a youthful glow right through to spring and Arty, who can eat like, well, a horse kept his condition and his sanity – always a bonus with a spritely 17.2hh!
It’s not all been plain sailing, though, and I was recently reminded recently of how precarious our sport can be. Arty and I were enjoying a canter along a familiar track in the morning sun when the ground gave way over what turned out to be a badger sett, causing us both to fall. I’m very thankful that Arty was unharmed – the only damage being a loose shoe and a muddy saddle. I, however, sustained a fractured hand, concussion and a fat lip. While I’m mostly recovered, I can still feel some effects of concussion four weeks later. It has reminded me of the importance of correct equipment. Riding is outrageous enough without taking unnecessary risks, even if it is very hot and your hair is fabulous!
I look forward to what the rest of the year has in store and hope to continue with happy horses and developing myself so I can aid their performance.