Taking one horse to a major show means that not a lot gets done at home. Ferro’s recovery method of lying flat out for most of the day is not really an option for me. Even once the tack and my boots were cleaned there was a fair amount of washing to get rid of all traces of the mud. Homer, Biscuit and Emma hadn’t had my fullest attention in the previous week so it was full speed ahead with them, with the intention of taking Emma, Biscuit and Ferro to Pyecombe on Thursday.
I still wasn’t entirely happy with the way Emma had gone at the previous Pyecombe. Although she had jumped clear she had been very silly, so during the week she did a lot of pole work and by the time we set off for Pyecombe I was hopeful of a much more sensible round. Ferro had an easy start to the week with some hacking and a little flat work, and then a quick jump on Tuesday to check she hadn’t lost any confidence at Windsor. She felt like a tiger – full of enthusiasm! Biscuit also had a quick jump on Tuesday to set her up for Pyecombe, and I finally gave in to the temptation to have a little jump on Homer.
Finally the ground has dried up enough to have the horses out at night. This always makes such a difference to Emma’s temperament, and I really believe that it is healthier for all of them. They are able to wander around which stops them getting stiff, and grazing with their heads down in a dust-free environment is good for their wind.
When I arrived at Pyecombe on Thursday it wasn’t very busy which is a mixed blessing. The classes go faster, but I am busier. Both Emma and Biscuit jumped double clears in the Newcomers,and in Emma’s case in much better style. Ferro then jumped a really lovely double clear in the Foxhunter. As it was a proper A7 class with a jump-off I decided to leave it at that. All three of them were just out of the prize-money which is always a bit disappointing as it is nice to get an entry fee refund, but with young horses it is more important that they jump good rounds.
Pyecombe is also home to the Light’s Brendon Stud, and it was lovely to see the first few foals of the year turned out in the field next to the arena. At this stage they are real babies, and just wander around or lie in the sun, but as the summer progresses they grow into proper little hooligans and it is great to see them playing together.
I started Homer’s jumping very carefully with trotting poles and canter poles and then a canter pole to a cross pole. Wow! he feels magnificent when he jumps, although I am always a little bit aware that after all his Irish hunting he probably thinks that the rails and bank at the end of the school might look like a warm-up fence rather than a barrier. I have continued slowly with him all week, flatwork, hacking and a little bit of grid work. My friend Mel Siggs hacked him with me on Friday and I was pleased to see how lovely he looked in his new way of going. I think he is going even better since I noticed I had his bit on back-to-front (only for two days)! I am really hoping that if we manage to get a lesson later in the week he might be able to go to a show next weekend, but I am anxious to do it all right with him. He is a bit different from the others in that he knows lots about jumping, but he needs to learn that his new flat work and his jumping go together.
Both Anna and Sophie have been home for the weekend to celebrate Sophie’s birthday. We have had two lovely sunny days. Soph has hacked out on Ferro, and cooked us the most delicious meal last night – more of a treat for me than her. Then today we had lunch at Chilli Pickle in Brighton, a real family favourite. This is real, proper Indian food, as you would eat it in India with a great glass of Chai to finish. Both Sophie and I did lots of backpacking in India and love it, but Anna and Mark love it just as much. There was a slightly bizarre cultural mix today: Indian restuarant with Morris Dancers outside!