After two good days at Felbridge we headed off to Coombelands the following Thursday. Askeaton jumped first in the Newcomers jumping beautifully until pulling herself up at the beginning of the jump-off. Breakdance jumped a very even, but slightly weary round in the Newcomers and Arietta jumped a lovely double clear.
It had been a busy week for them, with training and a two day show, but a useful one as it provided me with an answer about Askeaton's future, and it's important for Breakdance's future that he learns that sometimes he will be a bit tired, but he still has a job to do.
I think it's really important to know when to accept that a horse has come to the end of it's competitive career. Sadly for me both Emma and Askeaton haven't continued to compete into their teens, but luckily they are both beautiful, successful, well bred mares and they can have a second career as a brood mare. Neither of them were suitable for amateur homes, both were really kind mares, but their competitive party girl natures made them a little on the sharp and busy side to settle into a quieter ridden life. Looking back at videos of Askeaton as a seven and eight year old I can remember how brave and powerful she felt, and how invincible she felt in the ring, always looking for the next fence and the next challenge. I am so lucky that Shane Breen let me produce her and later buy her. From the moment she arrived here as a very nervous four year old, till the last hack I had on her, I have absolutely loved riding her. She is so clever and careful, such fun and beautiful to ride. She was brave and competitive and allowed me to enjoy her "talking horse" status as a young horse. In return I have loved her, and with the help of Mike Barrott, Ed Lyall, the Casserlys, Caitlin McCaffery, Camilla Plass & Steff Gibbs (who oversaw the early rodeo years), April Kitchener, Ellie Collins and Saracen Horse Feeds we have tended to her every whim! She is now back where she started, at Breen Equestrian, and I hope she will be a brilliant brood mare for them. Often very good horses have very few homes, and she is definitely one of these.
Shane picked up Zarnita (who is about a month off foaling) and Askeaton together and Emma is now Bea Fuller's waiting to foal, so the yard is down to just Breakdance and Arietta, very quiet, but certainly much more relaxed, and giving me time to think about what I might do to keep me busy and focused once I am no longer riding.
I had a very good training session with Roger McCrea and Helen Wilson, overseen by William Funnell, at the Billy Stud, and then went to Coombelands the following day. Breakdance jumped his first Foxhunter, which looked enormous. He was a little bit surprised by the extra 10cm on fence 2 and I then over-rode to fence 3, but he jumped absolutely beautifully until fence 11, where I got him a little bit deep and then over-rode again to fence 12. I was thrilled with him, he is so brave and scopey, but so unlike the many busy little horses I have ridden, and I just have to learn to ride him more quietly. William's comment "some of that was OK" - was good summary of where we are at. Arietta then jumped an easy round in the Foxhunter, just being a little bit casual coming out of a double.
The horses had an easy week last week as Mark and I took the opportunity to have a few days exploring Amsterdam while Ellie and Phoebe took care of them. We've picked up the pace again this week, and they have just passed their six month MOT with Ed Lyall with flying colours, so hopefully onwards and upwards for the summer.
Many thanks to my great little team of Ellie, Phoebe and Beverley for their great care of me and the horses, and their good humored company, and to Mark for endless support, and to my wonderful team of sponsors, Saracen Horse Feeds, MacWet Gloves, Protexin Equine, Just Equine and NDS Equine.
At the end of a busy Easter Weekend I collected the horses on Monday. For some reason best known to myself I thought they would be well behaved and just eat grass if I turned them out! Askeaton had a buck, a roll, and a run round the tree and had lost a shoe within two minutes, and Breakdance jumped out of his field losing a shoe in the process! Immediate text of shame to the farriers in order that I would be able to do anything with the mad bunch at all.
I have been really lucky in that bringing the horses home has coincided with Ellie Collins coming back to work for me on a part-time basis to fit in with her flourishing transport business. It's a huge relief to have someone who knows us all so well, and is brilliant with the horses and me, and lovely Phoebe Taylor and Beverley Eatton are able to do some days too to make up a bit of a team. It's been great having a break from their day to day management, I think it's helped me see what I need a little more clearly, and it was definitely a good time to have them off the fields here with the dreadful weather.
It's been a short week with a run up to a two day show at Felbridge as the goal. The horses had two days of hacking, and various shoes back on. I then gave them a quick jump at home before having a lesson with Louise Simpson on Friday. Louise made it very simple, and provided a much needed confidence boost for the weekend. All three horses went really well and I felt set up for the weekend.
Saturday at Felbridge was incredibly busy, Breakdance jumped a lovely round in the Newcomers, bar a mad moment from me at fence two, and both Askeaton and Arietta jumped lovely clears. I finished the day feeling very calm and confident. Many thanks to Karen Rees for coming to help.
On Sunday Breakdance jumped what I thought was a lovely clear, but actually brushed the fourth fence! However, once again he felt great, and much more grown up, but perhaps a little bit weary. It's a while since they did a two day show and it's all part of growing up to save some energy for days two and three. Askeaton jumped a super clear round, and was bizarrely twice as fresh as on Saturday, and Arietta jumped a nice round in the Foxhunter, albeit for two fences down, but she felt confident and made it feel easy. Many thanks to Sharon Moore for helping.
Finally the horses had a lovely sunny day to go in the field yesterday. It has dried up a lot and they managed a good roll and graze and no lost shoes. Hopefully the weather won't get too wet again, and we can manage to get them out regularly now. I really believe that hacking and turn-out help the horses to stay healthy both physically and mentally.
As always many thanks to Elllie, Phoebe and Mark and to my supporters, Saracen Horse Feeds, Protexin Equine, Just Equine, MacWet Gloves and NDS Equine.
6th March was a very busy day: Jack Simon Fraser made his way into the world just before 7 in the morning, a very bonny little boy and a lovely little brother for Lila. I then went and schooled Arietta and Askeaton at Coombelands with Trevor which went very well, and then shot home to see Khalissy off to her new home, and still made it to Pilates by 4!
Breakdance moved to the Breens on the 8th March, and has benefited greatly from being in a bigger yard, and from me having more confidence with him. He has had to get used to working in a busier arena and to the noise that goes with it, and I have had easily accessible help with getting on him, which has previously been a little bit of a problem.
We had a lovely, busy weekend, with both Anna and Sophie staying with their little families. It was lovely for Rory and Immy to meet baby Jack, and for Lila to show off her big-sister skills! Mark and I also had a wonderful, if freezing cold, day at Cheltenham - taking full advantage of not having the horses at home!
Having had a little break from shows we all went to Felbridge on 21st March. Breakdance jumped a lovely round, albeit for a few poles! He is still inclined to get tense in the warm-up and holds the tension for the first few fences. Askeaton jumped a great round to be just out of the money in the 1.10 open, but sadly Arietta was not at all herself, jumping very spookily over the first four fences, before stopping at the fifth fence and decanting me through the wing onto the ground. Airbag to the rescue, but sadly it doesn't stop your confidence getting dented! Subsequently we found that her mouth was a bit sore, and she was very upset about it, so she had a few days off, and then a few days in a hackamore before getting back to work.
We had a very good school at Trevor's with Askeaton with a view to stepping back up to 1.20 and set off to Hascombe full of confidence. Breakdance jumped his best round to date in the Newcomers, just for one pole in the jump-off which was probably my fault, but very naughty Askeaton refused to play at all, stopping at the first and third fences. We went back for a school yesterday and she was as bold as ever, so who knows what was going through her head on Wednesday. She is the most frustrating creature!
All this drama left my confidence feeling very shaky. However, a few well chosen words from some very nice friends have strengthened my resolve, and I took myself off to Hascombe again yesterday with just Mark to pick up poles and call and ambulance if needed. We kept the jumps small and all the horses jumped round really nicely. Sometimes the acronym KISS (Keep it simple stupid) is the best way to go. A lot of over-thinking goes into all sport, and I'm not sure that it ever helps. Add in a large sensitive animal, and a sport that is intrinsically rather dangerous, and you can get a serious muddle going!
Sadly having three horses at full livery has proved a little bit more than my bank balance can cope with in the long term, so the horses are coming home again after Easter. I have also missed the lovely hacking and turn-out here, and hopefully I will cope with them all now the warmer weather is coming.
Zarnita and Emma are both about six weeks away from foaling now. They have coped really well with the appalling weather, although I have had them in at night in the worst of it. They look really well, benefiting from Stud Cubes from Saracen Horse Feeds and the most delicious hay from Spanton & Partners.
What a lot of changes have been fitted into one month! The weather has been so challenging, and I'm thrilled that I have had somewhere so safe to ride in all the gales and rain. Hopefully the worst is behind us now, the fields will dry up and the grass will start growing and we can have a peaceful and more successful Spring and Summer.
Many thanks to all at Breen Sport Horses, who are a tremendous team, Mark, and my lovely sponsors, Saracen Horse Feeds, Just Equine, MacWet Gloves, NDS Equine and Protexin Equine.