Having ended my last blog loving the spring weather, it has actually taken more than two weeks for the spring weather to come back again! The horses have been back to wearing two rugs to go out in the field, and there has been a frost most mornings.
Mark and I had a very exciting invitation from my aunt Penny who lives in Cheshire, to go to the Grand National meeting at Aintree. We had a lovely evening staying with Penny, waking up to great views of Beeston and Peckforton Castles, all part of the ancient English defences against the marauding Welsh.
Sadly the spring weather completely deserted us for the day, but luckily we were wrapped up warm against the gale force winds and horizontal rain. The photo below shows just how many people braved standing outside to watch the second race.
We had a brilliant day’s racing and were so lucky to watch Tabitha Worsley, who we have known since she was a baby, win the Foxhunters over the National fences, on Top Wood for Johnny Weatherby.
On Sunday I took, Heidi, Askeaton and Kvint to a show at Pyecombe. Apart from being absolutely freezing and getting very wet I had a lovely day. Heidi jumped her first Newcomers and Askeaton her first Foxhunter, both going really well and Kvint went double clear in the fastest 1.30 I have ever seen. He finished 10th, but actually there were only about 4 seconds covering the top 12.
Askeaton has been jointly owned by Breen Equestrian and me since she was three, but as this is a business arrangement I have always been aware that at some point I wouldn’t be the most commercial person to take her career forward. Added to this we know that the end of Emma’s competitive career is probably not that far away, and I’m not quite ready to leave this party yet, so very kindly Mark has helped me buy Breen Equestrian’s half of her. Shane and Chloe have been fantastically fair about this. I had her independently valued, and she has literally been x-rayed from head to foot. Shane then had a jump on her on the Monday after Pyecombe. She looked absolutely phenomenal with him, as I expected she would.. This year she has just got better and better. She is very straightforward to ride, totally professional in the ring, and feels as if you could jump absolutely anything on her. With Mark’s help we all came to a very good agreement, she has passed her clinical vetting and her x-rays with flying colours and now she is ours which is very, very exciting. I hope she will continue to make Shane and Chloe proud to have bred her. All her Golden Hawk siblings have the same attitude, scope and carefulness and hopefully will help Golden Hawk to be recognised as a very important sire of jumpers.
The following day I took Heidi, Kvint and Emma for a lesson with David. This was sorely needed - I’ve been away competing and doing my own thing for a little while, and the old adage that when it’s going well is when you most need a lesson couldn’t be more true. I managed not to do anything too disgraceful on Emma, but I was so appalling on Heidi that I nearly fell off her, and certainly Kvint felt like he had never been schooled at all. I felt like I’d been run over by a truck by the time I got home.
Camilla was away for the beginning of this week so I took advantage of the Easter Holidays to have some excellent helpers. Sophie Preston helped me on Monday, and then Harriet Keenleyside helped me on Tuesday and Wednesday. Both of them worked really hard, rode very well and I hope had a nice time while earning a bit of money.
We had a lovely weekend with Anna at home. It is really strange to think that this was probably the last time she will be here before she has her baby. She has done so well throughout her pregnancy and still looks incredible with only four weeks to go. We had a most delicious curry at Amira’s Kitchen in Uckfield before going to see Fisherman’s Friends at the Picture House in Uckfield. I can thoroughly recommend both.
On Monday I dug myself out of bed at 4 am to make my first trip to Wellington with Heidi, Askeaton and Emma. This was well worth it - it’s a lovely venue with a super, big ring and a very spacious warm up. All three horses jumped well, Heidi and Askeaton are now respectively finding the Newcomers and Foxhunter easy and Emma felt very much her old self. No prizes, but that was mainly due to the rider!
I had a horrible journey home with the M3 blocked and causing us a slow rush hour cross country journey. Not a very good end to a long day for me or the horses. The day got even longer as Heidi obviously struggled with the journey and wasn’t at all well during the night, necessitating an nigh-time visit from the vet and me getting up to check her every two hours. Luckily she was well on the mend by the early hours and is completely back to normal now.
Hurricane Heidi - Newcomers
Askeaton - Foxhunter
Doonaveeragh Emma - 1.30
Tuesday was another busy day as I took Emma over to David Simpson’s so that David and Mike Barrott could watch her jump. Considering that she had a very long day on the lorry, and also jumped very well in the 1.30 she jumped like a star. For me this was good news, as it meant that Mike’s treatment of her sacroiliac joint and her feet has made her much more comfortable, and we can go cautiously forward. When she was uncomfortable in Lier I withdrew from Chepstow, Windsor and Bolesworth with her as I didn’t want to be jumping her if she wasn’t completely right, and I didn’t want to be leaving her at home either. I’ve been riding her and looking after her since she was three, and even though Camilla and Steff look after her beautifully it is still very important to me to monitor her myself. So I will do some local shows with her, and we can keep a very careful eye on how good she feels so that we can plan her management and what shows she does for the rest of the year.
I had a really lovely day yesterday, Camilla and I took Kvint and Askeaton for a long hack on the Ashdown Forest and then I took Emma up there by myself. Although the ground is getting hard now, there are plenty of uphill trots and enough grass covering in places to have a quiet canter. There was nobody else around and the space is so huge with views right across to the South Downs, it just makes me so happy to be so lucky and makes me realise what a very small part of a very big world I am.
Today Mark and I have had another lovely day visiting Tattersalls in Newmarket and then going to the races on another truly beautiful Spring day. It’s lovely to have a day out together, away from our horses, and spend some very spoiling time with friends and relations.
So now we’re looking forward to seeing Sophie and Alex for Easter and the next event in our lives is going to be a truly huge one - the arrival of our first grand child. I am so excited to meet him or her, it’s really not long now. Happy Easter everyone!