March - Back to Lier

Kvint 1.35
Kvint 1.35

The road from the February Lier to the March show in Lier was anything but smooth. Kvint started coughing on the last couple of days at the February show and continued to cough when we got home. Clinically he seemed well with no temperature, so Ali Weston from Cinder Hill Equine Vets came and gave him a course of antibiotics and some Dilatoril to help him. He happily continued to be very jolly and coughing! The next little bump in the road was that Heidi, whilst also being very jolly, got a snotty nose. I then managed to spring a rib, which was surprisingly painful, by a combination of forking up muck and riding a naughty youngster, and Caitlin McCaffery found that Emma had a slightly sore hamstring which probably explained her loss of form in the second week in Lier. 

After a short course of steroids and more antibiotics Kvint continued to cough so eventually I bought him a Flexi-neb nebuliser from Haygain. Finally that seemed to do the trick. John Harris and taking it easy fixed me. Heidi recovered all by herself and Emma also took it easy. Wonderful Askeaton just toughed it out, but probably benefitted from me taking it easy. Finally we were all well enough to go for a schooling session at Felbridge where they all went well. I managed to get all the horses clipped and Mark and I packed up the lorry. With four horses there’s not too much extra space so there was haylage, feed and shavings in absolutely every space. 

Heidi - prizegiving 5 year old final

Heidi - prizegiving 5 year old final

Sadly, Will, who came with me before has taken a long term job, so Emma Ashurst has joined me for this trip. We set off somewhere in the middle of Storms Freya, Gareth & Hannah which meant horses didn’t sail across the channel for 5 days so we took the Eurotunnel. Emma brought my car which meant that the stables were all set up when I arrived with the horses. I love this as the travelling is hard on the horses and it is great to get them straight off the lorry into ready made stables so they they can have a drink and a pee straight away, and then tuck into some haylage on the floor. 

I gave all four a quick ride and Emma and I got them settled for the night before I went off to my B&B.  

Thursday was an early start with all four to trot up before Emma and Kvint started jumping at 12. Due to the weather the first two days of the show were moved indoors. How lucky we were to be somewhere with such great facilities. Kvint  jumped first for a good quick clear, but the class was unbelievably competitive, Emma jumped a fabulous round to finish 8th. I should have turned inside to the last to be faster but she was super. Heidi was up next. I was glad she had already jumped here as the course was up to height with a little round water tray as the last fence. Heidi was a good girl and flew round for one down. Askeaton then jumped a good double clear in the six year olds to finish 12th. The little round water tray was the literal downfall of Phillip Lejeune the following day - young horses don’t care how famous you are!

Askeaton- 6 year olds.  

Askeaton- 6 year olds.  

On Friday Kvint jumped a lovely clear in a super fast 1.35 to finish just out of the money. Askeaton  then jumped a good round in the Six year olds, but for probably the first time in her life she had to do a turn back and was a little argumentative resulting in 4 faults. 

On Saturday Kvint had two down when I didn’t have him straight enough in the 1.35 speed and Emma absolutely stormed round to finish 10th in the fastest class I’ve ever ridden in. Askeaton then jumped the six year old final  she actually jumped her nicest round to date, but still struggles with the third part of a combination and also tapped going into the last double.

 

Emma 1.35 speed.

Emma 1.35 speed.

On Sunday I just had Heidi in the five year old final and Emma in the 1.35. Heidi jumped the first of only 6 clear rounds and was first to go in the jump-off. I put a little bit of pressure on her and she was really good, just having four faults and finishing 5th.  

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Heidi 5 year old final

 

I was so proud of her. Before Christmas she was just jumping British Novice, and she has sometimes found it hard to be brave. She’s not really even 5 yet and there she was behaving beautifully at her first international prize giving - really a pretty big deal. Who knows what the future holds for her. 

So: a big moment with Heidi followed by a rather low moment with Emma who I rode rather uselessly to be eliminated in the 1.35. Horses certainly keep your feet squarely on the ground ! 

All-in-all a really good show. The horses have been great, it has been wonderful having Emma helping me. Having really good help makes such an enormous difference, not only to me, but also to the horses who have been so relaxed and happy all week.  

 On Monday Emma and I hacked the horses out and then had a lovely lunch in the sun in Lier with Bumble Thomas, Sean Brady & Jill before making a supermarket run. I then did a second supermarket trip with Julie Whibley and Helen Treadwell. 

Yesterday I gave Heidi, Askeaton and Emma a quick jump round the clear round. It was particularly valuable for Heidi who was very over excited and rather spooky outside. Today I’ve ridden them all on the flat and had a nice hack on Kvint. So hopefully we’re all good to start jumping again tomorrow. 

The horses all look fantastic and feel good too. I am always convinced that Saracen Horse Feeds make them look and feel so good. They are all so shiny and cope so well with travelling and staying away. The two older horses are on Precision Solutions Complete Leg Supplement which has made a really noticeable difference this year. Many thanks to Just Equine, MacWet Gloves and Fabbri Boots who keep the horses and me looking smart. 

CSI2*/CSIYH1* Lier - Week 1

Valentine’s Bear outside the Town Hall in Lier

Valentine’s Bear outside the Town Hall in Lier

Will Thompson and I set off for Dover at 4.30 last Wednesday. Will has a lorry licence, so I had the super luxury of taking my car. I got to Lier a couple of hours before Will so I got the shavings and hay and set the stables up ready for the horses to go straight in. 

We were very lucky that there was a small clear round jumping show on when we arrived so I gave Heidi and Askeaton a quick spin round a small course. Heidi was super spooky and really struggled the first time so it was very valuable to be able to jump her round and settle her. I just rode the older horses on the flat and settled them down. Then Nattie Biderman and I went to find my B&B which is about 500m away and have a quick dinner in beautiful Lier.  

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On Thursday morning I dropped Nattie at Mechelen station to catch her flight home and Will and I trotted the horses up. The young horses jumped at 12 in a 5&6 year old handicap. There were only 10 five year olds, Heidi was a little Star, just tapping the last fence when I pushed her a bit. Askeaton jumped her customary clear round. I’m getting spoilt with her now. I jumped both Emma and Kvint in the 1.30. Kvint placed 13th out of about 90 and Emma just touched the first part of the double in the jump off.  

On Friday morning both young horses jumped clear, Kvint made a truly unremarkable job of the 1.35 and Emma jumped brilliantly and very fast to be let down by the geriatric rider who jumped fence 6 backwards in the jump-off.  

Saturday morning started off brilliantly when Kvint cruised round the 1.35 Speed to finish 4th. I did wonder if the clock was faulty, but I just think he is naturally quick now and is so easy to ride.  

Next Heidi and Askeaton had the young horse final. This was a little bit bigger and more technical than the previous two days. Heidi jumped very well but was a bit quick to the second fence and Askeaton felt very tired and just had coming out of the double. 

I then just had Emma to jump in her first 1.40 of the year. I thought the course was pretty big and square and she jumped absolutely brilliantly. Even with a pretty quick double clear she finished 36th which gives an idea of the quality of jumping at the top level of these shows. 

Thé horses had done all their jumping by Saturday so we had a quiet day on Sunday. On Monday Will and I hacked out round the lanes which was a nice way to switch the horses off a little bit. 

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Will and I then had a nice lunch and a wander round Lier which is very beautiful, and I then had a relaxed supper with Mikey, Jackie and little Shane from the Breen Team. 

We had another relaxed day on Tuesday. This morning the older horses have been worked quite thoroughly on the flat and Askeaton and Heidi havé done some pole work and had a little jump in preparation for jumping again tomorrow. 

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All the horses trotted up well this evening and we’re ready for an early start tomorrow.