Looking back at 2022 and Forward to 2023
It's always hard trying to look back and be objective about 12 whole months, they flew by, but looking back January 2022 seems a very long time ago.
To sum up as succinctly as possible: by 4th January I had managed to fall off twice, 30 minutes apart! I then invested in an air jacket which made my two Autumn falls less painful. We spent half of February having COVID and isolating before April and I made it the whole way to Spain for four weeks of the Sunshine Tour. Although the sun was notably absent for most of the month of March,and Askeaton was lame for half the tour, we did actually have a great time. It was great to be back and to see the amazing expansion and improvements made there, it has to be the best facility in the world. Khalissy really got going and set the standard for her very successful year, and my lovely Arietta stepped up week by week, finishing with a placing in the final CSI1* 1.35 Grand Prix.
April and May were a bit calmer: Doonaveeragh Emma had her second beautiful colt foal, Alchornes Pure Gold, by Golden Hawk. The horses all continued to jump well and BE Khalissy in particular put in a stellar performance at CSI* Chard to jump four clear rounds and finish with 6th in the small Grand Prix.
We had a wonderful family holiday in France in June, and then very sadly April left to further her career with Gemma Stevens. April was my wing man here for four years, and losing such a very important part of a very small team was tough. Both Khalissy and Arietta continued to jump well, Khalissy consistently placing at 1.20 and Arietta jumping some great rounds at 1.30. Askeaton seemed sore again, and she took a very long summer holiday.
Finally we had a summer where not only did we go to parties, but we also had a party here to celebate my 60th birthday, and Polly, my sister's 50th birthday. It was a great day filled with friends and family.
Ellie Collins joined for the latter part of the summer before leaving to set up her own transport company. I have missed her bubbly company, and her brilliant care of the horses. I'm not good at change and did find so much in a short period of time hard, but we now have Lauren Andrews here who brings good skills and experience to the job.
Wondering if Askeaton was every going to make it back into the ring I bought Billy Breakdance in September. He is a charming horse, and is making really good progress. I failed to notice how tall he was before I got him home, but he is very polite and so hopefully won't get too big and strong for me.
All the horses were back in work by the beginning of November. Khalissy and Arietta came back in great form. I always ask Ed Lyall at Sussex Equine to give them an MOT before they compete and they passed with flying colours.
We had our last show of 2022 at Hascombe on 7th December. It was great fun to have Khalissy back in the ring. She felt like a proper expert, albeit only round the 1m, but certainly lovely to have her back. Breakdance jumped very well in the 1m and I rode him appallingly badly in the Newcomers for a couple of fences. Arietta then jumped a super round in the 1.20. It was nice to end the year feeling that I'm properly getting my teeth into the jumping again.
Askeaton has had some very special treatment with Arthramid, and just before Christmas she was given the go ahead to start jumping again. I had a lesson with Trevor Breen with her after Christmas and she felt fabulous, so fingers crossed that we can keep her sound and have some more fun together.
One of the big events of December for me was the Breen Christmas Auction where Alchornes Pure Gold was one of the horses up for sale. I am absolutely thrilled that he has been bought by Michael Duffy, he will have the very best chance to be the very best he can be, and hopefully will be a good advert for Emma and also pay back the faith that Shane showed by putting him forward for the auction and the Michael showed by buying him. Michael is a great fan of Golden Hawk, and always liked Emma so hopefully Tom will do him proud.
We have had the most magical Christmas with my sister and her children, and Anna and Sophie with their little families. Having a 3 year old and two toddlers at Christmas was wonderful, they were so good and sweet and Father Christmas really came up trumps with the stockings! The reindeer trampled ash all over the carpet, and ate their carrots very messily and Father Christmas drank his Aquavit (45% proof) and ate his mince pie. Hopefully not everyone gave him Aquavit or he'd never find his way home. There was a slight crisis before lunch as I forgot to take the turkey out of the freezer (mainly due to not reading the instructions properly) so we had lamb stew for Christmas lunch and turkey for Boxing Day lunch. Mark's sister Clare had to come back for Boxing Day to get her turkey. Perhaps not my finest domestic goddess performance, but everyone was very good about it.
Like everyone with horses Christmas has been frantically busy and very hard work, luckily Frankie Walker has been helping me out, and Mark has been a total hero while Lauren has been off with the horrible lurgy! I had a last lesson with Trevor before he flew off to Dubai, and will try and keep my bad habits in check till he gets back. I'm very much looking forward to 2023 with four lovely horses to jump. I will definitely be taking the sticky spray and the airbag to Hascombe on the 4th January.
As always many, many thanks and Happy New Year to the team who keep the show on the road. Mark, Lauren, Frankie and Sussex Equine, Cinder Hill Veterinary Clinic, Casserley & Sons and Caitlin McCaffery, and to my fabulous sponsors Saracen Horse Feeds, Protexin Equine, Just Equine, NDS Equine, and MacWet Gloves.