200 extra horses at the show for the second week guaranteed us some very early mornings, especially with two young horses in the first class on Thursday. There was a different course builder for the second week, and the courses were bigger and a little more technical. I knew it was important, especially for Heidi, to go for the first week, as it was almost guaranteed that the courses would start softer. Heidi jumped round absolutely brilliantly for a double clear which was a great start, unfortunately the horse due to jump after Askeaton spun round and knocked into her between the second and third fences. Askeaton was very good about it, but it definitely spoiled her concentration and rattled me so she just knocked the third fence. Kvint had a good spin round the 1.30, but I just slightly changed my mind coming to the second last with the result that he was a little bit too far off it with not quite enough pace and had it down behind. I then had quite a long wait before Emma jumped in the 1.40. She was very lit up in the warm-up, and then knocked the first fence in front, which she hates to do, with result that she then had three more fences - not a great round for such a reliable little horse, but she’s not a machine after all.
Friday was another early start for the young horses who both jumped very well round the speed leg of their competition. The both did efficient clear rounds within the time, but to get placed in these classes you have to go much quicker than either of my mares are ready to go.
There was no class for Kvint on Friday, so I just had Emma to jump in the 1.40. The course was very big and I think particularly difficult for Emma. There was a long run from both the first fence to the second and from the third fence up to the fourth. On a hot horse like Emma you can’t really let her just run down such a long distance, but trying to contain her isn’t very easy either. It is much easier to settle her with couple of easy straight distances and then she is away. I think I was perhaps a bit dithery and she never got up the distance to fence two and stopped, she then jumped it beautifully, jumped fence three beautifully and stopped most in a most determined way at fence four. Very unlike her, but it is early in the season and in hindsight I should have maybe waited to jump her on Saturday after a not so good round on Thursday.
Saturday started with Kvint jumping in the 1.35 speed which he jumped in his now customary efficient style to finish 11th. Three placings out of five starts at this level is really pleasing and he makes life so easy for me now. He did, however, give a couple of coughs, and although he seemed very fresh and well I took the decision not to jump him on Sunday.
We then had the young horse finals for Heidi and Askeaton. Walking the course I thought it was big, Heidi’s first fence was 1.20, and quite technical, with a very difficult approach to fence 1 where you had to go through a narrow gap between two fences to get to it. Heidi jumped round absolutely brilliantly for four faults, I expect she lost concentration for a second, as she had no apparent reason to knock it, and is actually super careful. Askeaton also jumped very well. She found to difficult to shorten in the combination, but is something we can train and that she has to learn a bit for herself, and had going into the second double - I think bucking a little on the approach is probably unhelpful!. But I am absolutely thrilled with both of these little mares. This time last year they hadn’t even been to a show, and in the final they jumped 1.20 and 1.30 respectively. Heidi took a couple of days to settle at the show, hardly surprising when she came straight from Max Routledge who bred her, to me and has never stayed away before. However, the second week she was really settled and began to concentrate more easily. Askeaton feels like a total pro to ride in the ring now. A change of bit for the second week let her stretch her head and neck more over the fence and we changed her feed to something a bit more exciting in the second week with the result that her energy levels were much better on the last day.
Stay away shows are an excellent opportunity to learn so much about the horses and how to help them adapt and perform to their best. Although taking the young horses is expensive, the courses are built to encourage them to jump off a lovely forward stride, and start very simple. Also these shows are an excellent forum for marketing the young horses, and hopefully a good opportunity to show what lovely horses we are breeding in Britain now. Helen Treadwell had her own lovely homebred young horses, and horses from New Priory Stud jumping in the young horse classes here, Breen Equestrian had ten lovely young horses so hopefully we are all doing a good job of showcasing British Breeding.
So my final round of the show was Emma in the 1.30 two phase. I was obviously apprehensive after her performance the previous day, but actually this course suited her well, and she jumped a really good round to finish 11th. I definitely could have been a bit faster and cut a couple of seconds off in the jump-off, but I was more concerned with giving her a good, confident round and a bit of fun. Hopefully a good job done.
Will then packed up the lorry like lightening and we made the decision to leave very early on Sunday morning so that we would be home in good time. By 2.45 on Sunday the horses were home and having a lovely roll and graze in the fields.
The horses all had Monday off. We had a quick vet visit to check that Kvint’s cough was nothing sinister and to update both Emma and Askeaton’s flu jabs. Ali from Cinder Hill Equine Clinic found that Kvint was 100% clinically but he has a precautionary course of medicine to make sure he’s in top form to go back to Lier in three weeks time. Emma will have a check up with Ed Lyall from Sussex Equine Hospital next week to check that she isn’t a little bit sore and they will all have physio and chiropractic treatments before they go to another show.
The horses just hacked on Tuesday and Wednesday and I rode the young horses on the flat today. Claudia Savage’s Riri has also had a bit of a tune up in the school ready for Claudia to have a lesson tomorrow. It’s been a busy week with quite a lot of teaching, masses of washing, and cleaning out the lorry after Lier and I’m still in the midst of catching up with my own admin: organising the next few shows, feed orders, catching up with some work etc. The horses have all felt very bright to hack out and have come home looking great which is encouraging for the year ahead. Will did a great job of keeping them happy and relaxed at the show which is very important, especially as I am used to spending so much time with my horses.
As always the foreign shows provide a lovely opportunity to catch up with old friends who we don’t see so often and make new friends. It was lovely to see Julie Whibley who used to live next door to us in Nutley with her lovely young horses from New Priory Stud, and being a good taxi driver to Michael Duffy, Michael G Duffy, Trevor Breen and Matt Williams meant that they treated me to some very amusing and delicious dinners. Competition was fierce, especially in week two with such names as Daniel Deusser and Jos Verloy among the starters, but we did get to hear God Save the Queen a few times thanks to James Smith and Chloe Winchester.
Camilla, Steff, Izzy and Mark have done a fabulous job while I’ve been away. Riri, Vinnie and Lyra have beautiful new clips and the yard and fields look immaculate. It’s been so lovely to have some spring weather here. The garden looks great, the sun has been out and hacking round the lanes makes me very grateful to live in such a beautiful part of England. I’m really looking forward to seeing Anna and Sophie at the weekend, before the count down to the Lier March show starts in earnest towards the end of next week.