Welcome to the start of my weekly countdown blog to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials where you will also be joining me on my journey throughout the event — it’s actually crazy I can say those words!
My top horse Zocarla BLH (Zo, pictured) and I have made it straight onto the accepted entries list for the world famous Badminton Horse Trials.
My name is Danielle Dunn, I am 24 and I am living the dream! I come from a family that embraces extreme sports and had a completely crazy childhood and loved every minute of it. So that’s probably why eventing is right up my street. I was selected for young rider European eventing championships in 2011 and 2013, and in 2015 I was on the senior European two-star team where we won team silver in Holland.
I am incredibly excited to be tackling my first Badminton this year. There has obviously been a huge process to get to this stage, lows and highs but an amazing journey. This also gives me a chance to to say a quick thank you to those that have supported me along the way; my family, my owners, the new support from the Horse Trials Support Group and David Johnson of Equine Construction, who have both recently added some very welcome support to the dream.
This weekend is Belton international horse trials, which certainly has to be one of the riders’ favourite competitions of the event calendar. It’s always so well run, the setting is spectacular and the courses are testing but thrilling to ride. I have three horses competing over the weekend. My Badminton partner, Zocarla BLH, is running in the CIC3* to give her her main prep run before we head to Badminton. She has had one open intermediate run prior to this where she felt on great form and finished fourth, even though I ran her slowly cross-country to save her for a certain “big B” event approaching very quickly indeed! My aim with Zo at Belton is to check where we are with our training, learn from the performance and then work on the bits that can be improved before May. We still have over a month until Badminton after Belton so there is time to fine tune certain movements. In particular, I am looking to make sure I have a really secure warm up system in place with Zo.
These two horses are extremely talented, and are at completely different stages of their eventing careers. Grandslam is running purely for qualification purposes as he is a new ride for me and so we need a two-star qualification to move up to three-star. My aim with him for the first half of the season is Bramham CCI3*u25 championships, and then in the latter part of the year I hope he will be ready for Burghley CCI4*. Polar Fox only started his eventing career last year and after starting off this season brilliantly, with a win at Gatcombe in the novice and a seventh in his first intermediate at Lincoln, he is ready to step up to two-star this weekend. This horse has that something extra special about him.
We have a busy run up to Belton planned, with jumping sessions with Richard Waygood and dressage lessons today with Ali Byrne. I look forward to updating you all on how this weekend has gone next week. I can’t wait to get to Belton!