Wales & West
SIRE OF DAM
I was privileged to grow up around horses. My parents had a hunter livery and dealing yard and my mother and I ran a little pony dealing business. I have always loved producing young horses and ponies, and have produced all my horses from unbroken three or four year olds. The journey with the horses brings me as much satisfaction as competing. I evented for 30 years before concentrating on show jumping, and was a successful working pony rider and so my riding education has been broad and correct and the horses get a very thorough education and a variety of work. We are lucky to have beautiful hacking where we live. With a small yard I am lucky enough to be able to spend a lot of time with the horses, working out the best approach for each individual. When training others I like to continue this ethos, working hard to find the best way for each combination to progress. I have been lucky to ride some lovely horses, and was successful in eventing up to CCI3* level and have jumped up to CSI2* 1.45 level since turning to show jumping. While I was eventing I also competed successfully up to Elementary level in dressage.
The third show in quick succession was the Newcomers 2nd Round show at Felbridge. I love Felbridge, and this show was no exception. We had a very good first day, Askeaton jumped beautifully round the 1.10 for 6th place, BE Khalissy had a minor placing in the Foxhunter and Billy Arietta jumped a lovely, slow round in the Foxhunter, as a warm-up for the 1.30 on Saturday.
Saturday started with Askeaton in the Foxhunter. She warmed up well, but was very strong, she jumped the first few fences well, but ran me to the combination and then stopped! However, we mustered our bravery and she jumped through the second time and jumped bravely round the rest of the course. BE Khalissy was very lit up after her recent triumphs and had the last part of the combination, so when she then ran me to a bit oxer in the jump-off I decided to keep her for another day. After a less than auspicious start to the day Billy Arietta then jumped a fabulous clear in the 1.30, setting us up perfectly for the Newcomers 2nd Round on Sunday.
We had an early start on Sunday with Khalissy and Askeaton in the first class, the Accumulator. This is a great fun class which is always sponsored by Richard and Sam Baker. Askeaton was early to go and popped round very neatly, but just caught the joker behind, Khalissy then stormed round to finish 4th behind some more experienced speed horses, so I was very pleased with her. We then had a long wait for Arietta to jump in the Newcomers 2nd Round. I thought the course was very fair, technical, but considerably smaller than in Wales. Arietta jumped round really well, she just had four faults towards the end, and perhaps now she has a little more mileage I wouldn't choose to jump for two days before an important class, but I felt we needed the 1.20 to set us up for the 1.30, and that in turn made me feel very confident for the 2nd round class.
Overall we had a very good show. Askeaton, whilst not back to her form in Wales, was at least jumping round, Khalissy continues to be very competitive at 1.20 and is nearly ready to step up to 1.30 and I feel that I am properly getting the hang of riding Arietta over bigger courses now.
The horses will now have 8 days in the field before we prepare for Hickstead. It will be nice for them to unwind a little and we are going to spend a few days with all the family in France.
As always many thanks to April and Mark, we had a long and busy weekend, and to my fantastic sponsors, Saracen Horse Feeds, Protexin Premium Equine, NDS Equine and MacWet Gloves and thank you to all the team at Felbridge for a lovely show, fabulous courses, wonderful relaxed atmosphere and great competition.
It was lovely to be back at Chard for the second running of their CSI. So many improvements have been made in the last 12 months. Lovely tented stabling and a new warm up arena with breathtaking views over the valley below. Jane Gregory and her team even managed a 100% improvement in the weather.
Having left home at 6am to beat the M25 traffic April arrived before me and the stables were all beautifully set up when I arrived at about 10. April got the horses trotted up very quickly and then we let them settle before riding them all in the afternoon. Somerset is proper dairy cow country, so there were acres of delicious grass for them to graze on in the afternoon.
I didn't jump until the afternoon on Friday, so I rode Askeaton and Arietta in the morning. Khalissy was jumping at about 12 so she just got a good warm up before her class. Khalissy jumped in the Silver Tour Two Phase and jumped a super round to finish just outside the prize money - she was a little bit hard to turn on the first jump-off turn. Both Askeaton and Arietta jumped in the Gold Tour 1.25 Two Phase. Askeaton warmed up well, perhaps a little bit fresh, and jumped the first four fences really beautifully, but flatly refused to jump the 5th fence which was a double. Arietta then was a little bit strong and wild in the same class, resulting in four faults at the second fence - particularly irritating in a two phase as we didn't get to jump the jump-off part. A bit of head scratching about Askeaton ensued. She had been a bit quiet in the stable and perhaps she was in season, perhaps I was a tiny bit deep to the fence, but it is very unlike her to refuse to play. I had a lovely pub supper with Trevor Breen and David Simpson, and watching the Nations Cup in Lisbon reminded me that even the best riders can have some pretty bad days.
I jumped late again on Saturday, but rode them all in the morning. Askeaton went straight to bed after I had ridden her and didn't get up for an hour, so I decided not to jump her. Both Khalissy and Arietta jumped in the Gold Tour, the 1.25 Speed. Arietta was unlucky to have a pole coming out of the double, and Khalissy was a little star - I thought it was a strong enough course for her, and she stormed round to finish 11th. I had a lovely evening with my friend Sarah Jane Tillard and felt relatively relaxed about Sunday.
I got to the show early to give the horses a leg stretch. Askeaton felt in exceptionally good form so I decided to jump her in the Silver Tour Grand Prix. Once again she warmed up well, but this time only agreed to jump the first fence. She felt as though she was being pretty cheeky, but they can't talk, so who knows. We'll go quietly at home, and jump a smaller class at Felbridge and go from there. She jumped brilliantly in Chepstow the previous weekend. I thought the course was a perfect test for Khalissy, strong enough, but not too huge, and she jumped a fantastic clear round, followed by a clear in a very competitive jump-off to finish 6th. A really good weekend for her with four clears out of four rounds. I just had Arietta left for the Gold Tour Grand Prix. Another very good course from Ben Townley with plenty to jump and a very technical final line. Unfortunately Arietta had the second fence (this was the bogey fence in both finals) and then jumped a lovely round. A very educational weekend for her round some great courses, she is learning all the time, and I am learning more about riding her. It was lovely that both Sarah Jane and my lovely godmother Lavinia Grant-Ives were both able to come and watch and catch up.
We had a very late night by the time we got back to Sussex, so we have had three quiet days here while we all recharge our batteries for Felbridge's three day show this weekend.
As always many thanks to April for all her hard work, there was a lot of walking and running around, and as happens so often, we were either twiddling our thumbs or doing everything at the same time!
Thank you also to my brilliant sponsors: Saracen Horse Feeds, Protexin Equine, Just Equine, MacWet Gloves and NDS Equine for all your help
Chard is definitely a show to keep in the calendar. Jane Gregory and her team have done a brilliant job of developing the showground, and the atmosphere is very relaxed and "can-do". They gave a lovely welcome party on Thursday evenin.g and it was lovely to catch up with so many friends.
We had two days at Wales & West Showground last week, intending to do the Newcomers 2nd Round there with all three horses.
I had a great journey to Wales, arrived in good time and installed the horses in their stables. The temporary stables at Wales & West are about the same age as me, so a little bit of maintenance (a new bolt on the door) was required to keep Arietta in, but this was soon accomplished, and I set off to my lovely B&B, the Lych Gate in Caldicote.
We had an early start on Thursday morning with three in the Foxhunter in the main ring. Arietta was first up, and she jumped beautifully until I had a mad moment and decided to take a stride out, resulting in a shuffle and a pole down. However, she jumped the rest of the round well, and I was very pleased that she jumped the water very confidently.
BE Khalissy was next and I was very pleased with her, it was a strong Foxhunter and she was just a little green jumping into the first double, and had to work a bit coming out, resulting in four faults. She jumped better and better as the round progressed, so I was very pleased with her.
Askeaton was last of the three, she felt rather fresh and a little bit ridiculous, and clonked out two poles. She feels ready to go back to jumping a few bigger classes now. Not the greatest day on paper, but actually and educational and constructive day, and it was sunny which was a bonus.
By Friday the sun had been replaced with pouring rain. When I walked the course for the Newcomers 2nd round I thought it was a strong 1.25/1.30 from fence two and I decided that for both Arietta and Khalissy it would be too much for them at this stage. With 164 entries I suspected this might be the case, and I think a large number of withdrawals and at least 30 eliminations and retirements endorsed this decision. I think Askeaton could have easily jumped it - but we are still getting our confidence back, and I would rather wish I had jumped it than wish I had not! Luckily the secretariat were very accommodating and all three were swapped to the Foxhunter in the 2nd ring. They all jumped really nice rounds, Khalissy having the first fence and then jumping beautifully, Arietta just tapping one in the jump-off, and Askeaton jumping a lovely round to finish 8th.
It was great to be back at Wales & West after a gap of 6 years. The surfaces and courses are always educational, and although it's sad to see that the big grass ring is now an all-weather, it's probably more popular with riders. It might be nice to have a little more space in the warm-ups, but on the second day they added a grass warm-up which was lovely for warming up and opening the horses up.
It doesn't seem that we've been back very long before we're packing up to go to Chard, but I am hoping the horses are well prepared as we head into the busiest part of the season.
Sadly April is leaving us after three very successful years as she no longer wants to be a Show Groom. We will be so sad to see her go, we have loved having her here, the horses absolutely love her, and she has been brilliant at everything, so I am looking for a very special person to step into her shoes.
As always many thanks to April, the horses are always happy and look stunning, Friday was particularly hard work with the pouring rain, and three horses in a class of only 60. Thank you always to my brilliant sponsors, Saracen Horse Feeds, Protexin Equine, Just Equine Ltd, MacWet Gloves and NDS Equine.