End of April and Beginning of May
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.