On 29th May after a long and rather nervous wait Rory Torben McCafferty made his way into the world. He is the most beautiful baby and so, so sweet. Anna and Tom are both doing so well with him and hopefully getting a little bit of sleep.
Mark and I rushed up to meet Rory and seen Anna and Tom on the Wednesday evening, only managing to get to the Chelsea and Westminster after visiting hours, but luckily Sophie was able to get there in good time and organise it so the nurses kindly let us all sit in the corridor so we could all have a turn holding him. The whole new little family were home on Thursday afternoon so I went up to London on Friday and Saturday to make sure everyone was doing fine and to give Anna a hand so she could have a good sleep in the afternoon. I had another lovely afternoon with them all last Tuesday, and in between they have had lots of visits from friends and family. Everyone tells you how wonderful it is to have grandchildren, and they are certainly right. I love all babies, but Rory certainly is super special.
Having had an extremely emotional couple of weeks and a very late night on Wednesday I set off with all the horses to Coombelands on Thursday morning. I don’t think I was the best version of myself warming up Heidi and managed to have a seriously bad shot to an oxer in the warm-up which unfortunately gave her a bit of a fright and made her a bit over-careful, this meant we didn’t go into the ring at our most confident, which I expect contributed to her shying at some poles by the side of the ring and shooting past the first fence before jumping very nicely round. The judges kindly let me have another round, and she jumped much more confidently, so definitely a very good decision.
I then jumped Askeaton in the Foxhunter, and she jumped a really lovely round, she feels so confident and both she and Kvint really benefited from having some training with David Simpson on the Monday. Doonaveeragh Emma and Kvint both jumped good rounds in the 1.30 to round off a long, but very worthwhile day. It was great to be back at Coombelands, not only is the going excellent and the warm-up the best you will find anywhere, but the views are just breathtaking. Hats off to the Harwood family for letting us all continue to use their wonderful facility after the tragic loss of Gaye.
Because I noticed so much different in Askeaton and Kvint after training with David, I took Heidi and Emma for a lesson before the South of England Show. Both jumped really well, and David certainly helped me a lot with Heidi.
Then on Thursday I headed off very early to the South of England Show. Initially I took Heidi on her own for the Newcomers where she jumped a great round for just one mistake in the jump-off. There were then two classes before the Foxhunter, so I went home, did a little bit of work, and then took the other horses back for the afternoon. Askeaton jumped a really lovely clear in the Foxhunter and the two older horses had a fence apiece in the 1.35 which I hoped would set them up well for the main ring on Saturday.
The weather forecast for Friday was dreadful, but I decided to take the young horses in the hope that they would jump before the ground got too soggy. Heidi appeared to be oblivious to the rather slippery ground and jumped another very good round. Poor Askeaton jumped in the worst of the downpour and I pulled her up after eight fences as although she was jumping well, she was obviously not too confident in the mud. I had always intended not to jump Emma and Kvint on Friday if they went well on Thursday.
On Saturday both Kvint and Emma jumped in the 1.40 Accumulator in the main ring. This is a good introduction to a 1.40 as it starts fairly small and only builds to a proper 1.40 toward the end of the course. Emma was very fresh and enthusiastic and had two verticals that she didn’t really need to knock before absolutely soaring over the joker, which was pretty massive at about 1.55. Kvint jumped beautifully, but he definitely thought the joker was a joke, and was a little bit hesitant going to it, resulting in me giving him more of a kick than I would have wanted, and him just knocking it in front. He was a very brave boy though, and jumped well, so he will have really come on for the experience.
Heidi and Askeaton then jumped really well in the Newcomers and Foxhunter respectively, Heidi managing to come 6th in the Newcomers. A triumph that she found massively exciting. The South of England did a really great job of providing excellent going on Saturday after such a downpour on Friday and overnight into Saturday.
We finished Saturday by going to a lovely party at Fiona and Andrew Coveney’s and so luckily had a very quiet day on Sunday.
So far I have had a week of catching up with myself. The horses had a quiet hack on Monday and then worked on the flat on Tuesday, before having their regular check-up with Caitlin McCaffery the chiropractor. Caitlin looks at the horses regularly and I find this an excellent way to flag up any new areas of discomfort that may herald an approaching problem, and also to keep an eye on little areas of weakness that we already know about.
We have also had another exciting new arrival as Karen has managed to find a lovely new horse - welcome MIH Comet, a very beautiful dun boy.
Having had a long dry spell in May, the weather over the past two days has more than made up for it. The whole school flooded today for the first time in 24 years and the garden, was literally under water. Steff and I were splashing about getting absolutely soaked in about 2 minutes flat.
We also had Mike Barrott from Cinder Hill to check Emma over today, and make a plan for her going forward. We are suddenly heading towards July and then the show plan starts to build up again. It’s peculiar how time telescopes, the summer jumping season always seems a long time coming and then it’s over in a flash. We have the Hickstead Derby Show next week, the Keysoe CSI2* 10 days after that, before heading to the Royal International and the Bolesworth Young Horse Championships - that’s the plan anyway. Lots can definitely change between now and mid-August.
I have started trying to up my strength and fitness with help from Connor Clennan at Integrum Nutrition. I had forgotten that I actually like running (just not too far or fast) and am enjoying doing more stretching and trying to build my upper body and core strength - I’m getting there slowly but with a lot of determination.
As always many thanks to Mark, Steff, Camilla and April and to my wonderful supporters, Saracen Horse Feeds, MacWet Gloves, Just Equine, Precision Joint Solutions and Integrum Nutrition.