Its all go, go, go at the moment with 10 horses back in work who are all feeling very perky and happy after their holidays. Christmas celebrations are also in full swing.
Derby is now hacking out and schooling. Once Christmas and New Year are out of the way I will start jumping him and crack on with his work to get the fitness into him in preparation for Badminton Horse Trials in the spring. The weather could turn in January or February and if it does snow or freeze, preventing me from working him, I need to make sure I have done plenty with him beforehand.
I have two super youngsters in, Vodka and Roxy, who have been lovely to break in and are now beginning their respective educations.
Vodka is by Shutterfly and is a very pretty five-year-old mare. She’s jumping small courses now. Roxy is by Contendros and is a four-year-old bay mare. She had her second jump the other day and like Vodka she is incredibly brave and unfased by anything. They’re both really enjoying their work and it’s such a pleasure to ride lovely talented young horses!
Every time I jump Jake (Highmead Proposition) he really gives me a great feel over a fence and he’s going very well. He’s for sale, which is sad but it’s part and parcel of the sport and I think he’ll make a great horse for someone.
Ted is coming along very nicely although still scared of his own shadow I’m sure he’ll be brave enough for eventing and he has the scope and talent to go a long way plus he’s a stunning horse to look at. He’s going drag hunting with the Berks and Bucks on 27 December as I think it will be a valuable educational experience for him and it will help his confidence too.
Young dressage star Olivia Oakeley has been giving me some lessons on him and she’s pushing me to the next stage with his dressage training. He’s doing some quite advanced work as he’s very intelligent and needs to have his brain occupied.
The others are all hacking and after the New Year I will step up all their work. I will also have formulated a plan for each of them, which I will go through with my jumping trainer Corinne Bracken, as it’s surprising how quickly the new season comes round once the holidays are over.
We’re currently building some new staff accommodation so I’ve been spending the evenings painting. I’m getting better at getting more paint on the walls than on me and when I am not riding, I’ve been doing a lot of teaching, which is proving to be very rewarding.
On the social front, my friends and I booked a table at the Beaufort Hunt Ball and it was absolutely brilliant. It really was superb in every way, from the moment you arrived. There were so many nice touches, such as having the starter standing up at bars, which made it a really sociable experience, to the incredible decorations. The effort the organisers went to was amazing and we all had such a wonderful time. We partied until 4am in the morning!
Have a Merry Christmas and warm wishes for 2016.