Having had a quietish weekend it was full steam ahead on Monday. Duncan from Equident came to do the horses’ teeth – the last bit of maintenance work to set us up for the season ahead. This was the first time I had used Equident, and I was so impressed with everything about them, from how quiet Duncan and his assistant were with the horses, to how quickly they worked. Looking at Biscuit’s mouth Duncan pointed out that she has very fleshy bits in front of her molars and using a snaffle, which pulls on the corners of the mouth, was pushing the flesh against the molar and making her mouth sore, which was probably causing her resistance to the bit. He suggested a happy mouth pelham with an elastic curb chain instead, and so I am giving this a good try. This was a good example of how open-minded one needs to be, all sorts of people who spend time with horses have priceless information to impart.
On Monday and Tuesday my lovely friend Sarah-Jane Tillard was in Sussex. Sarah-Jane and I shared a flat in London when we were 19 and are co-godmothers, SJ to Anna and me to Natasha. She moved to Dorset several years ago and so we have so much to catch up on when we do get together and a good hack is a perfect opportunity. On the Monday night Sarah and Chris Ginnett came to supper to catch up with SJ. The Ginnetts are very close family friends and Chris not only has been our vet for 25 years but also worked for my parents’ vet Geoffrey Brain when he was somewhat younger. Having ridden my horses on Tuesday we then went to Hickstead for a lovely long ride with Chloe Breen who is also a friend of SJ’s and whose birthday it was.
A lovely day was completed by meeting Anna and Sophie in London for the Hockney Exhibition at the Royal Academy. I so glad we had made time for this, it was very enjoyable, lovely pictures and not too high-brow for a Phillistine like me. We then had supper and a catch-up. Having been the second whitest person in Oman (next to Mark) I was thrilled that the girls thought I looked really brown!
On Wednesday I met with Deborah Coles-Vincent from Liston Equestrian. This is a really innovative and exciting company and we are so lucky to have them based nearby. In addition to highly absorbent wood pellet bedding, Liston are also stocking Dy’on bridles and chaps, Cavalor supplements, LAS Hats, Passier, and other really exciting products such as saddles cloths, bandages and whips from France and Germany, to suit the professional and amateur alike. It is really worth looking them up at www.listonequestrian.com and also visiting their new retail outlet at Golden Cross Equestrian Centre. I am already a devotee of Dy’on: they make the best half-chaps I have ever come across and I love their bridles which have the noseband integrated into the padded headband, so there is no extra poll pressure from the noseband. Deborah has given me the opportunity to try the Cavalor supplements. These are veterinary quality supplements and Deborah has been properly trained so she gives individually tailored advice. I am starting with a basic supplement for joint support Cavalor Artri-Base and one for muscle support Cavalor Muscle Base for all the horses and for Ferro, who has a very delicate tummy, Cavalor Gastro8. In addition all three are on a course of Cavalo Hepato Liquid to detox their livers and allow for proper absorbtion of the supplements. I really didn’t think that one week would make a noticable difference, but already Ferro is really eating up and her coat looks magnificent – so I think am already seeing some benefits. The main benefits will be seen in how well the horses recover from busy times during the season.
For me, the main excitement of the week was jumping on grass for the first time at Pachesham on Good Friday. Having had the normal, dreadful struggle with cleaning out the stud holes on Thursday we were ready for action on Friday. Although the ground walked a little bit hard it actually rode really well and the horses jumped like stags off it. This was a perfect preparation for the county shows and Hickstead. A good big ring, mainly flat but with a few little slopes and dips (all excellent practice), a pony ring next door, and a road over the hedge, all excellent distractions. Biscuit and Emma had to start at Newcomers for the first time which added to the challenge. Emma jumped beautifully, but was clearly looking at the traffic as we came to the planks and stopped absolutely dead! She jumped it perfectly second time and I was not at all worried, in fact she probably didn’t need to jump the jump-off which was a good 1.20. Biscuit was fabulous: I was thrilled with her after the first round where she felt super-classy, but she also jumped off really well, turning up easily but not hurrying for a good double clear, just out of the placings. Ferro strolled round the Foxhunter with a huge spook at the traffic, and then really rose to the challenge by posting the fastest jump-off round for a win. She was also 3rd in the B & C to round off a really successful day.
Anna and Sophie were both home for Easter, the horses had a day off on Sunday while we went to church and had a lovely evening with Mark’s brother Simon and his family. They have golden labrador puppies of only a week old which were absolutely gorgeous. Monday wasn’t a huge success as I had caught a revolting bug, so I rode the horses with Sophie’s help and then went back to bed which the others went out to lunch!
It has been business as usual this week. No lesson as Shane is in Lummen, but I have worked the horses at home, done some work on our straightness and Emma and Biscuit will jump at Felbridge on Sunday.