All set for the new season.

It has finally stopped raining and my spirits have instantly lifted, and my energy and enthusiasm, which I thought had succumbed to old age, have returned.  I even managed to catch the sun, or at least the wind, at Pyecombe on Saturday. If we get a few weeks of this weather the grass might start to grow and the horses can go out at night.

Luendi - Discovery Pyecombe - March 1st

Luendi - Discovery Pyecombe - March 1st

We have finally managed to have two training sessions with Shane which have made me really pull my socks up and start riding all the horses more positively forward. This forces me to look for a distance far earlier and keep the horses in a much stronger rhythm and hopefully give them more space in front of the fence so that the two babies have enough time to get their front ends folded up, without giving them a fright. I am much more scared of Shane than of falling off, or the huge things he makes me jump - a system that also worked brilliantly when my mother was in charge - so it does make me shut up and get on with it.

Espirito Santo - Discovery Pyecombe - 1st March.

Espirito Santo - Discovery Pyecombe - 1st March.

Both Luendi and Espirito Santo (Rabbit) are now jumping quite happily round Discoveries and even jumped their first 1.05 at Felbridge this week. Sometimes it is prettier than others, but they are both quick learners, and, like all of us, they need lots of practice to get it right consistently. I am thrilled with both of them, they are both lovely characters and terribly well behaved at home, at shows and in the very smart new lorry.

We hardly know ourselves with so much space for getting the horses ready, lockers and a lovely living. I am really looking forward to our first stay away show. We live up a very narrow lane, so there has had to be some modification of our driveway to get it in and out! I can't claim to have reversed in in one go yet, but I haven't scraped it either.

Luendi - Discovery - Pyecombe, 1st March

The lovely Emma has now done her first few 1.30 classes. Two lovely double clears and twice I have made a mistake in the jump-off. I am trying terribly hard to ride her more forward and to be more relaxed with my hand. She is inclined to be hot, so it is a major challenge to force my brain to make me do the right thing. I know how lucky I am to have such a fabulous little horse, and I am determined to make a good job of her, so I will be training really hard, and making sure that as "practice makes permanence" the practice is correct.  Emma is entered for the CSI* at Hardelot in the first week of April, so I am very excited. The CSI* is a very small affair compared to the CSI3* that it runs alongside and so it will be thrilling to be there at all, let alone competing there, and having the chance to watch some of the world's top riders working in as well as competing. I think we are on track with our training, but I will need my super competitive and efficient head on as the French can jump clear rounds at about the same speed as the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham - and I am the one who could never go fast enough eventing!

Doonaveeragh Emma - 1.30 Pyecombe - 6th March

Doonaveeragh Emma - 1.30 Pyecombe - 6th March

I have been very proudly watching Biscuit (Little Penny) and her progress with both David Simpson and Helen Cruden in Vilamoura in Portugal. She won a 1.30 in the first week with David and went consistently well for Helen in their first show together in the second week. We have also heard from Homer who is a huge success in his new home with the Wynnstay.  There was even a back view of him in the Horse and Hound in the New Year.

I have just got back from a lovely day's racing at Sandown and am really looking forward to my annual visit to Cheltenham on Wednesday. I have a very spoiling day with my youngest brother David and I absolutely love it - it is about the best day out ever! The rest of the week is spent cramming as much work as possible round the racing. Hopefully Crofton Manor will have their TV working so I can watch Bob's Worth in the Gold Cup on Friday.

Happy New Year

January has gone by so quickly in spite of the fact that it just goes it goes on and on raining. I think I have had wet feet since November - and we have only been able to walk, rather than wade, down the garden path twice since Christmas. However, I am constantly grateful that we live at the top of a hill, and feel so sorry for those who have had their houses and yards repeatedly flooded - I really can't think of anything worse.

A very rare sunny day and Emma's huge ears!

A very rare sunny day and Emma's huge ears!

All the horses are making good progress. Luendi has been placed in one British Novice and two Discoveries, and Espirito Santo has done his first double clear. He is just a little bit more babyish than Luendi and finds it harder to concentrate in the ring. Emma is jumping fantastically well, and I am so nearly there with getting her to go in a calmer way in the ring.

Anna Beck arranged a clinic with John and Laura Renwick at Crofton Manor which attended with all three horses. John and Laura took it in turns to teach so I had John for Emma and Espirito Santo and Laura for Luendi. I found the whole day really interesting, and in spite of managing to have a crashing fall off Emma I came away feeling much more confident about jumping her round bigger courses. I found them both very intuitive coaches, they were very quick establish a connection with every rider and to pin point ways of improving performance. Their day of teaching started at 7am and didn't finish until after 8pm - a pretty good indication of how dedicated true professionals are.

Luendi looking very grown up having a jump at home.

Luendi looking very grown up having a jump at home.

I have had another, drier lesson with David Simpson who was really pleased with the way the horses were coming on, and finally I had the chance to have a lesson with Shane, who was not so pleased!  I was back to my old trick of not enough leg and too much hand, so we all had an extremely good work out. We were also under his watchful eye the next day at Royal Leisure - the terror of getting it wrong certainly concentrates the mind in the ring! Luendi and Espirito Santo jumped their best ever rounds and Emma went really well, just suffering from one pilot error. Hopefully we will have a chance of some more training with Shane this month to try and hammer home the good habits.


A large amount of time and energy this month has gone into taking, failing and eventually passing my HGV test. I had no idea it would be so exacting, and so hard to take a driving test after so many years. I am thrilled to have passed it, and now the hunt is on for a lorry with some nice living so I don't need my bicycle anymore.