In spite of spending an inordinate amount of time being absolutely soaking wet I have had a very enjoyable November.
Espirito Santo has been having a well deserved break, he is muddy, hairy and bare foot, although he does come in most days as all his friends are in work. Like a proper teenage boy he wolfs down his breakfast and goes straight to bed until I have ridden Bert and they can both go out again.
Having Bert to produce has meant a welcome return to the hunting field. Having broken my leg out hunting in January 2013 and then had nothing suitable to hunt last season I was a bit windy about going out again because of the risk of people knocking into my leg. However Bert is training up to be an all-rounder and hunting needs to be one of his talents. So far he has had five days with the Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent. He still finds the standing still bits a little bit frustrating, but is settling all the time, and once we are on the move he is simply brilliant. He is extraordinarily comfortable, has a lovely snaffle mouth and is so clever, bold and careful in his jumping. He seems happy to go first or last and although I wouldn't want to jump a huge hedge yet because I don't want to frighten either of us, I feel very confident over any timber or ditches. I have always loved hunting, it is such a fabulous education for young horses, and for me it is good to jump fences that come at me any old how, and you just never can tell what sort of day you are going to have. I also love hunting as a social occasion and am thoroughly enjoying catching up with old friends and making some new ones.
Luendi continues to progress well and has jumped some more Newcomers double clears at Felbridge and jumped really well at Addington last week. She has missed a lot of general riding during the summer and her ride is her weakest area. She is wonderfully bold and honest with a huge careful jump and she will be overtaking her peers in next to no time.
I took Emma the Premier show at Addington at the beginning of November where she jumped spectacularly to be placed in the 1.25 B&C on the first day, and to just miss out on qualifying for the Winter Grade C (1.30) on the second day. It was great to jump a proper A7 1.30 again - it is quite different, and much more exciting, going back in for the jump-off at 1.40 than just progressing to the second half of a one or two-phase.
We were back to Addington last week and she was placed in the Foxhunter and 1.30, although she was a little bit wild, so hopefully we are all set for the CSI1* at Keysoe which will be last show of 2014.
Finally, with encouragement from Mark, I have given in to good sense and old age, and am having much more help with the horses. This means that Jemma Tester, who has helped me part time at home and at shows for quite a while now, and Steff Gibbs, who is a human dynamo and the only person I have ever met who tacks up faster than me, are now helping me in the afternoons. It is so relaxing knowing that on the afternoons I work the horses are all safe and sound and I don't have to race back and look for them in the field in the dark. On the other afternoons we are able to get some of those jobs that never get done sorted. I have also discovered the wonderful Sally Clay who has given the girls, and Tops the paying guest the smartest clips. Of course I am now wondering how I ever did all that stuff by myself, but I do feel more relaxed and less knackered and have had time to enjoy hunting Bert and have had a good few weeks competing as well - so Mark was definitely right!