Birth year: 2013
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 day after Addington Mark and I flew to Kochi in Kerala, Southern India. I spent 8 weeks in India when I was 21 and have longed to go back. India is full spectrum of sights, sounds and smells, so it’s hard to choose a favourite bit, but Kerala would be very high on the list. It was Mark’s first trip, so a bite size 8 days to start. We managed a whistle stop tour starting in Kochi, followed by a trip up to the tea plantations in Munnar, a night on a houseboat in Allepey and a few nights by the beach in Kovalam before flying back into cold, wet January. We ate fantastic food in lovely street cafes and came back refreshed. So much has changed in the huge economic success that India is, but essentially little has changed with the lovely friendly people in this exquisitely beautiful country.
After such a lovely week in India it was time to get back out to shows. We started with a Thursday show at Felbridge. I jumped Askeaton in the 1m, as 3 is a lot in one class. She jumped a lovely double clear. Khalissy jumped a great clear in the Newcomers to finish 4th, Breakdance jumped well in the Newcomers and Arietta jumped a lovely double clear in the Foxhunter. Off we went to Coombelands the following Thursday where Khalissy picked up another Newcomers placing, Askeaton was 2nd in the 1.10 and the others jumped well for a pole apiece. Thinking all was going brilliantly we were back at Coombelands the following week for a slightly poley day of rather indifferent riding.
Sadly I once again have found myself without a full time groom, and while I have had some fantastic freelancers helping me over the past month, you can only be as good as the team behind you, and I don’t do so well with a constantly changing cast. I have been thinking for some time about having two horses and keeping them at livery. Not only making it easier for us to organise our time, and spend more time with Anna & Sophie and their families, but also getting the added support of being part of something greater than myself. As often happens this all came together very suddenly. I had a couple of frustrating days trying to manage to get to training and shows by myself and falling very far short of doing my best, which coincided with Trevor & Caroline Breen having room for Arietta and Askeaton, so they are now are now living there. . Khalissy is sold and departs for her new home on Monday, and at the moment Breakdance is still at home.
I am really enjoying the tremendous support that I’m getting from Caroline and Ryan Harvey. Something I’ve really only dreamed of! After just two weeks I’m noticing that being part of a system is benefiting me. It’s hard work - thinking and working differently, but it’s good. I’ve still had two to ride at home so I’m not seeing the time benefits yet, but slowly it will all fall into place, and the longer days make life so much easier. I took Breakdance with me on Thursday this week for some grid work and can see that whether he is at home or at the Breens he can benefit from the system too.
We’ve been to one show at Felbridge since the horses moved. In the 1.10 Breakdance actually jumped beautifully, but I chose to circle in two difficult distances, rather than push him out of his rhythm. Askeaton jumped beautifully, but she is very experienced and can shorten and lengthen to accommodate strange distances, especially over much smaller courses. Arietta jumped a good round in the 1.20, just struggling in two strange distances. I do wonder why at mid-week shows early in the year we need such testing courses. Mostly these shows are full of professionals producing horses for bigger shows later in the year. It would be so nice if we had more training shows with simple courses where the heights didn’t get so big in the jump-off.
As always many thanks to my supporters
Saracen Horse Feeds, Just Equine Ltd, Protexin Equine, NDS Equine and MacWet Gloves, and to the large cast of helpers this month, Lauren Andrew’s, Frankie Walker, Alana Spartow, Cookie Porter, Beverley Eatton, Ellie Colllins and Rachel Lyons and of course the team at Breen Sport Horses.
Next stop was a training show at Addington. I was excited to be going back to Addington after a three year absence, and the concept of the training show, where you get two rounds at your chosen height, is perfect for where my horses are in their progress this season.
I felt Askeaton needed another very easy round, so we had a brutally early start, made easy by having both Frankie & Lauren to help. I’m spoiling myself with help for these first few shows to allow Lauren to find her feet with the pace of show grooming, and to feel a little bit more relaxed about time while the horses are still very fresh.
We arrived in perfect time. Askeaton jumped two lovely easy rounds in the 1m. She feels great so fingers crossed we can keep it that way.
The real value of the training show was revealed in being able to go straight in at 1.10 on Breakdance with no pressure, as these rounds aren’t recorded on their BS records. I have made a few changes to his management as he is a little bit nervous, he now has a small dose of Calming Powder from Premier Performance CZ, which I have consistently found to be the best calmer, and we tried the titanium mask from Just Equine as well. Although I managed to get in his way once in each of his first two rounds, and at the second fence in his third round, I was able to keep starting again and posted an almost foot perfect final round. This was a really big confidence and self-belief boost. It was like a show for him, but like training for me. There was plenty going on in both the warm-up and the ring, and he was definitely more focussed on going from fence to fence without worrying about pole-pickers, photographers and other horses.
BE Khalissy then jumped two cracking rounds in the 1.10. She’s a real expert now, my only job is to read the numbers. I feel I have taught her all I can now and she needs a lovely home where she can teach someone all she knows, and fulfil her desire to go a bit quicker and actually be allowed to win things. She has been the most lovely and rewarding horse to produce.
We had a bit of a wait for Arietta to jump in the 1.20. She worked in really well, no acrobatics or objections to other horses and jumped two lovely rounds. A bit too many brakes this time, but having felt so green last year she really feels super confident in her job now.
It was a long journey home and a very long day for all of us. But it was well worth the trip. Many thanks to the team at Addington, sadly I can’t make either of their three day shows, but definitely have some others in the diary. Many thanks to Lauren and Frankie for all their help and to Mark for getting up early and helping me finish so late. A big sigh of relief from Mark as we flew off to India the next day and he was worried about how the lorry, girls & horses would be retrieved from Addington if I fell off!
As always many thanks to Saracen Horse Feeds, Protexin Equine, Premier Performance CZ, Just Equine, MacWet Gloves and NDS Equine for their support.
First show of the year was Hascombe with all four horses. I didn’t make the best start when I drove out of the drive with an open locker, leaving the door in the hedge. For some reason the locker light got stuck on drawing attention to the missing door the whole way to Hascombe! It was a cold, drizzly and windy day and more like the Wild West than a horse show.
First up was Askeaton. Her first show for seven months so I opted for the 1m. She was a little bit fresh and silly when we started working in, but she settled quickly and jumped a lovely clear round, BE Khalissy also jumped a lovely and very authoritative round in the same class. She’s definitely ready to step up.
Billy Breakdance didn’t have the best warm up, as it was very busy with very fresh horses, and he is a little nervous. He actually started very well and just got a bit tense after the first double so I turned a circle to settle him, but he jumped the rest well.
Billy Arietta seemed to be ridiculously fresh, and at one point I thought I was definitely coming off, but she settled to jump a good round in the 1.20. I’m still not entirely happy with our bitting arrangements, and she was definitely on the strong side in a nathe Pelham.
Many thanks to Lauren Andrews and Frankie Walker for all their help.