Birthday Celebrations & Nearly Falling to Earth

Originally posted 11th March, 2012

As I went to catch the horses the morning after Gill’s funeral it was obvious that Emma was hopping lame, what was not immediately obvious was that Ferro’s front legs looked as if they had the worst case of cellulite ever. After intensive investigations it was decided that Emma’s bruising was worse than previously thought and therefore she should be on box rest until 5 days after she came sound, and that Ferro had an allergic reaction to the surface at Crofton Manor which had been exacerbated by wearing brushing boots. Ferro’s legs luckily walked down and after about 4 days of just walking and being turned out she was back to normal.

Shane had very kindly agreed to fit in lessons with all three horses before he flew back to Valencia on Thursday,  so he got let off lightly with only Biscuit being fit to ride. Not that it made for a short morning at Hickstead. As I was leading Biscuit down the ramp at 9.30 Shane rang to say he had an appointment that was running late, so I held up Chloe and her paper work by having a lengthy cup of coffee. I then got on Biscuit at about 11.00, and then rode, Seagull a lovely grey horse Shane had for sale. Shane videoed me riding him (maybe to show how well he went for an amateur, as by my next lesson he had been sold to a lady to do working hunters.

Saturday brought the first outdoor showjumping day at Felbridge. Biscuit jumped beautifully in the Discovery and I had hoped she would do her first Newcomers, but sadly there were so many competitors and the light was running out, so she did the 1.05 instead. She then had the benefit of another lesson with Shane on the following Wednesday, and this time Ferro came too. Both jumped really well. Biscuit progresses all the time and Ferro feels so grown up now. It is lovely to have one horse where the buttons are just there, and so long as I press them properly it works. Both Emma and Biscuit are both really lovely, but we do go backwards and forwards a bit, especially if they miss any work.

On Friday I took Biscuit and Ferro to Crofton Manor. Biscuit jumped a lovely double clear in the Discovery and just had one down in the jump-off of her first Newcomers, she felt magnificent. Ferro had the same fence in the jump-off of the Foxhunter but then jumped a double clear in the 1.30. So I had a very happy drive back from Crofton, which helped as it really is quite a long way, and leaving at 7.00 am and returning at 8.00 pm with the horses to do at either end makes for a very long day.

Having turned the horses out for a while in the morning Mark and I then went to London to celebrate my 50th birthday. First we met Anna and Sophie to spend the afternoon at the Tate, where we were joined by my sister Polly and a friend. We then went to my brother Andy and his wife Caroline’s house in Notting Hill. There we were joined by my younger brother David, his wife Mares and my stepmother Zandra for presents and champagne. What a fantastic birthday treat! I was spoilt rotten and had the most brilliant birthday presents: Mark gave me some fantastic, and very grown up, diamond earrings, Anna and Sophie a beautiful locket to put on my bracelet, Zandra a lovely silver brooch. Andy, Caroline, David, Mares and Polly gave me some ultra cool cigarette leg trouers and a lovely top from Joseph (masterminded by Caroline – and from my favourite shop), and also all the children and the dogs gave me an Aerochino to froth the milk for my coffee. My cousin Fee has one of these and I love it, so it was the most brilliant surprise present. We then had a really delicious meal and a lovely evening at the Kensington Wine Rooms. So lovely to be with all my family, and so incredibly kind of Polly to come over from France for the occasion.

My actual birthday was Monday. Having got back on Emma for the first time on Sunday, and because she can be very sharp, I decided it was important to ride her quickly before going to Northamptonshire to meet with the executors of my father’s will. That was nearly the end of that, as we went out to the school she spooked, stood up, lost her balance and fell backwards into the neighbours’ hedge squishing me between it and her. She then managed to fall forwards out of the hedge, whacking me on the head, and sit on the ground, luckily with me still on top, and then off we went into the school. Mark, who was supposed to be supervising in case she was naughty missed the whole thing as he was reading the newspaper! However, she was a good girl for the rest of the week, and was ready for an outing to Felbridge on Saturday.

Both Emma and Biscuit were wildly thrilled to be jumping outside, but jumped double clear in the Discovery and both had just one down in the Newcomers. Although they are both fabulous jumpers, they were both very silly, especially Biscuit, who has had so much effort put into her way of going. Mark videoed both the Newcomers rounds and I was very disappointed as the results looked far from professional. Back to the drawing board with both of them for this week, they both need to be so much calmer and I need to keep them both in a much better rythm. I expect this is just part of the “two steps forward, three steps back” process of producing young horses. They certainly keep you from getting too big-headed. Sadly there was a horrid fall during the day which led to a delay of at least an hour, which meant that the 1.30 was never going to run, and only about 20 horses jumped in the Foxhunter. I was lucky enough to get a go on Ferro who jumped a beautiful double clear in the gloaming, slightly restoring my faith that I can at least get one of them to go properly.

Today we spent a beautiful afternoon at the Mid Surrey Farmers Draghounds Point-to-Point at Godstone. It was lovely to see so many friends, and some very exciting racing. Not only is the course in a beautiful spot under the North Downs, but it was the most beautiful day. We rounded it off with a trip to Weirwood Reservoir to watch the sunset, and to see how frighteningly low the water level is when the reservoir should be at its most full at this time of year, just as the winter ends.

David, Andy & I

David, Andy & I