2016 is done. We had a lovely December: Polly, my sister got married to wonderful Vincent in France the weekend before Christmas and Mark, Anna & Tom, Sophie & Alex, my stepmother Zandra and her friend David Brookes joined them for their celebrations. It was a great weekend and a lovely opportunity to meet Vincent's family and some of his friends. The English faction of the wedding party all stayed in the same hotel which was a brilliant chance for a massive catch up with old friends.
We had a great Christmas with Anna and Sophie home for a few days, Polly and her family staying and my whole family to lunch on the 27th December and then a very Happy New Year with Sophie and Anna's friends. It was a great 10 days of family, eating far too much, a very difficult jigsaw, great games and having the girls riding with me which I absolutely love. We just about got the house and the washing back to normal before it was time to leave for The Classic Development Show at Keysoe. I had a very good training session with Shane on the Tuesday before we left on Thursday.
Keysoe is one of my favourite show centres, it's just a really good set-up, good permanent stables, nice big warm-up and a good ring with good courses. There is always a friendly atmosphere and there are constant improvements. I just took Doonaveeragh Emma, Benny and Catokyo. Sadly we have discovered that Culana Z has navicular and doesn't have much prospect of standing up to the work required for competition. Luckily for her she can be a recipient mare for embryo transfer as although she is beautifully bred I am very against breeding from a mare with what may well be a heriditery problem. As Steff was unable to come with me Claire James came to help. The first day started well with Catokyo jumping a lovely double clear in the Newcomers, followed by a lovely clear from Benny in the 1.25 to finish 4th. Emma finished the day in fine style jumping two great clears in the Blue Chip B&C Qualifier to finish 3rd.
Saturday started well with Catokyo jumping well, just having the second fence when I tried to fit in too many strides. Benny was placed in the 1.25 Blue Chip qualifier and Emma jumped a great clear in the 1.35 Hickstead B&C Qualifier, sadly she just touched a pole in a very fast jump-off, and with only two to qualify I don't expect I would have been fast enough anyway. Catokyo jumped another good round in the Winter Novice Qualifier on Sunday, Emma was a bit silly and had one pole in the 1.30 and Benny jumped really well in the 1.30 but had the first fence when I rode like a prat! However I was really pleased with all the horses, I don't think Emma has ever jumped better indoors and I felt that Benny was beginning to go in a way that was much easier for me to ride. It was also a big treat to be driven home by Claire - I seriously could get used to not driving home from a long show!
I just had two days at home before Steff and I set off for the Premier Show at Bury Farm. We were very lucky to have lovely indoor stables with plenty of room for Benny to be able to keep himself relatively clean. Thursday morning started very well with Catokyo putting in yet another double clear in the Newcomers, Benny then jumped really well in the 1.20 but unfortunately was a bit full of himself in the jump-off and Emma was a little bit wild to have one down in the 1.30. Catokyo jumped another double clear on Friday followed by Emma being placed in a wickedly fast 1.25 and a little bit more wildness from Benny! He is so fit and happy now and much more forward going, I may have to have another think about how to make him take a little bit of notice of me between the fences! Having jumped three days at Keysoe the previous weekend I had only planned to jump two days at Bury Farm, which turned out to be very lucky as we had a major hot water leak in the lorry on Thursday night and I don't think Steff and I could have survived without hot water for any longer in the extreme cold.
We now have two weeks before we set off for Oliva Nova near Valencia for the MET Tour II. I am really looking forward to having three such lovely horses to jump, and some much warmer weather. We just need to keep them safe, warm and fit and have one more training session before we go, and I have got a little bit more admin to complete. In the meantime I am lucky enough to have several lovely new pupils to teach on a regular basis which is great fun. They all have lovely horses and ponies which make my job very enjoyable.
Happy New Year.