Feeling Lucky

To live where we do, to be able to ride out of the front gate onto 1,000s of acres of open Common land, to be able to hack for an hour and not meet one single person.

Beautiful Autumn misty morning too.

Favourite Weather

I love this wild and windy weather we are having it’s so much nicer than the unbearable heat of this last summer. Thirty years ago I had the incredible opportunity to spend 3 months in Southern Chile working as a venturer with Raleigh International on charity projects,. My group of 12 venturers worked mainly in a temperate rainforest, which means it’s not warm and there’s lots of rain. We lived in tiny 2 man Chilean Ex Army tents, the tents leaked so badly we used to cut holes in the floor to let the water out!!! These days the experience still makes me really appreciate getting soaked through and being able to get into dry clothes and a warm house, and being able to have hot soup in 3 minutes, instead of having to try and light a fire first out of sodden wood gathered from the forest floor. A few photos from Chile below, including myself washing my hair!!! . One photos is of a lad called James who is about to rescue one of our boats which was heading in the direction of the rapids, backwards! The 3 months was an adventure of a lifetime and our story was told in a 3 part BBC Radio 4 programme.

Although I love this weather which is why I chose to go to Chile all those years ago, riding young horses in wet, windy weather don’t go together too well. Riding them Friday last in high wind and torrential rain was interesting and I failed to get a proper tune out of them. So last minute decision we loaded them on to the lorry early Friday evening and took them showjumping to Hartpury University.

Good decision, both Chief and Ruby jumped two double clears a piece coming home with rosettes for good placings including Chief 2nd in the 90 he even brought home some prize money.

Back late in the dark and it didn’t seem many minutes (it was 6 hours) before my alarm went off at 5.30 am and we were loading them up again to go to Solihull Eventing.

The horses were tired and sooo much easier to ride, they both pulled out good dressage tests and both went double clear. Chief went like a dream, my issue with his brakes had gone and he finished in 3rd and Ruby won. Between them they won £100 in prize money. What a fab end to the Eventing season.

I feel I should introduce Ruby. We had an awful experience last year, when Ant bought me an older horse for my 50th birthday present, after 7 days we returned the horse to the dealer as unsuitable. It’s been a compete nightmare as the case is still ongoing.

Consequently it has taken us 12 months to pluck up courage to buy a replacement which is the lovely Ruby who has been here for 3 weeks. Ruby is lovely and has restored my confidence in buying from a professional yard, hopefully we will have lots of fun with her. She’s a pocket rocket, light on her feet, moves well and a real fun character too. Photo is Ruby jumping the fence after the water, she’s wearing her lovely new Payrolls UK saddle cloth.

Confidence Crisis !!

Nothing quite as nerve wracking for a coach when someone brings their lovely horse to you for a few brush up lessons for the first time, and they announce they have less than 3 weeks to a big qualifier. Especially when that person is a friend, a very talented rider and also a highly renowned coach themselves! Plus the final they want to qualify for is at Badminton Horse Trials!

How much do you dare change, if anything. Overdo it and you might confuse the established partnership, don’t change enough and those few extra marks they need to qualify won’t happen. Stress levels are rising for both you and the rider as the day gets closer and you start to wake up at 1 am wondering how to improve that canter transition further and if it’s even possible within the given time scale! By 2 am I am still overthinking it and even life in general seems impossible and I wonder even why people are coming to me for help, they must be crazy!!

This has been my dilemma for the last couple of weeks, luckily in the light of day it turns out everything I was worrying about is actually possible and the talented, very hardworking rider pulled it off and won her qualifier yesterday at Dauntsey.

So relieved that I didn’t over cook the coaching and I am thrilled to say I have coached my 5th rider to qualify for the final of the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at Badminton Horse Trials.

Very exciting and huge thanks to all the riders over the years who have put their trust in me to help them achieve their Grassroots Championships goal.

Past clients who qualified in previous years were

Sarah Dixon Smith – Mr Muddle – 2006 (final held at Aston)

Camilla Esling – Just Jake – 2011

Jen Clements – Mowgli – 2013

Annabel McCourt – Vainquer II – 2015 (WD from champs)

Victoria Gregg – Langston Governor – 2018

Well done to them all, so many amazing memories, all I need to do now is convince a few more clients that they can do it too!

Photo is Camilla Esling and Just Jake 2011