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After the Europeans, I didn’t have much time before I was on my way to Hickstead CDI with Peanut (Le Chiffre). This is his first competitive season at FEI level, as he’s only 6, so we were very excited to be selected.

We decided to arrive early (Monday night) to give him the best chance of settling into the venue and getting used to the arenas as he has never been to such a big competition before.

peanut-hickstead-trotupAs you can imagine, the trot-up on Wednesday (pictured right) was quite exciting (!). I had a hard job keeping up with him, but we were accepted, so could then prepare to compete.

We had an interesting first day of competition in the team test. Peanut was very well behaved and I was pleased with how far he had come on from the last Premier League he did. Unfortunately the judges couldn’t agree on his test so there was a 7% difference in the scores, but that’s dressage for you! We still finished 6th so we got to show off in the prize giving (top), which he enjoyed. Now that he has competed at an international, Peanut had been made an elite stallion which is a big achievement in itself at just 6 years old.

The individual test went very well, despite a few baby mistakes, but I was very pleased.  We scored an amazing 67%, finished 3rd and qualified for the freestyle! This meant we were in the prize giving and got a bunch of sunflowers, which Peanut was most interested in eating, plus some lovely samples from class sponsor NAF.

fourseasons-hicksteadDuring some down time we visited my sponsor’s stand at the Royal International Horse Show on the opposite side of Hickstead to find huge photographs of me on the stand to promote Cavalleria Toscana. WOW, they were big!

On the final day of competition, Peanut got to compete in the big international arena, which was a big ask for a 6 year old, but he did us proud. He was a bit nervous around the edge, but after some reassurance he went into the arena and did his best. He broke into canter in the trot half pass, but we pulled off the 8m circle in counter canter for a score of 68% and 5th place.

Peanut had been amazing throughout the week, scoring highly to get into all 3 prize givings. This is only the beginning for him and I feel so lucky to have started his international career. His owners watched the whole 3 days and they were delighted with him. He is the first ever SPSS British-bred stallion to reach an international competition.

A few days after returned from Hickstead, we headed off to Mount Ballan regionals. We underestimated how far Peanut would improve, so we had qualified for the novice class! Peanut was still very tired from Hickstead and we were in an arena where there was lots going on. He resisted entering and produced an interesting centre line attempt eventually. Unfortunately the test didn’t hold his attention, so we made a quite a few mistakes, but we still finished 9th out of 30.

Chloe Vell in the stable with Kaja

Meanwhile Kaja (pictured above) has been taking a rest after her busy season. I’ve recently brought her back in to work and we are preparing for our prix st george debut in September.

But after a pretty intense period, my family and I are about to set off for a break in the sun as we are all tired after the busy year, so I will catch up with you on my return.

Chloe