Meet Kirsty Short as she prepares for her first ever Badminton Horse Trials with the quirky 'Bouncer'

Hi everyone! I am so excited and privileged to be blogging for Horse & Hound about our road to competing at my first ever Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

I am Kirsty Short, a 27-year-old ‘mature student’ (or maybe that should be immature!) at Nottingham Trent University (NTU), studying sports education and psychology. My Badminton ride Cossan Lad, known as Bouncer at home, is a 14-year-old grey gelding by the famous Irish draft stallion Grange Bouncer, out of an unknown mare. Bouncer was sourced in 2007 from Queenholme Equestrian (Mark and Tanya Kyle).

I can’t believe this is our ninth season together. It has been a long journey to finally qualify for our first Badminton!

So our story is quite special. Bouncer was my first young horse to take to CCI* level and sell, however Bouncer carried on jumping and we were lucky enough to complete our first CCI4* in Pau in 2013. Since then, we have completed Luhmuhlen and Burghley CCI4*s, and we are now ready to tackle Badminton.

Bouncer is a quirky character to say the least. He despises dressage, although he also finds it quite difficult as he doesn’t have very much movement. He is built to be a hunter and we often call him ‘Bob the cob’. I always joke about how I know what a qualifying dressage mark is as we can sometimes be quite close to it…! I totally forgive him for hating dressage and he is trying to be better behaved in his older age.

Bouncer and I trotting up at Burghley

I am seriously a very lucky person as having a horse that flies round the cross-country like he does is an amazing feeling. I spend more time trying to slow down than kick to a fence.

We have had many mixed seasons. My highlights have to be from going from Pony Club areas to Burghley CCI4*, however, our best results have been at Tattersatalls and Blair Castle CCI3*s in 2013, where we finished in the top 15. Lowlights were definitely the odd horse fall as a result of an over-exuberant Bouncer in his younger days. When he was six, competing at Houghton CCI*, he tried to jump over the wrong part of a corner. The brush was standing at about 8ft and he simply failed to land the jump. Other incidents include jumping me out of the saddle at Chatsworth CIC3* back in 2011. Hopefully he has grown up out this now and is tested on the cross-country enough.

Bouncer is truly unique in his personality. I now describe him in his latter years as having grumpy old man syndrome — if he doesn’t want to play ball then he really won’t. I give him a treat every day to tack him up — if he decides it’s not time to be exercised he will just turn around and say “not yet, mum!”

Bouncer and one of the babies

I’m based at the fabulous facility that is Team Monart, under the watchful eye of trainers Polly Jackson Griffin and Niall Griffin. We are located in a beautiful village called Kinoulton on the Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire border — we have great hacking to keep the horses fit and all the facilities every event rider needs.

I have five horses to event in total; Cortage, a lovely nine-year-old who will be aiming at CIC3* by the end of the season, Kitty a lovely five-year-old and two four-year-olds, Teddy and Babs, who are being backed. It will be an exciting season for us having the younger horses all start their careers and Bouncer to be bouncing round ‘Badders’.

So our first event is Oasby this weekend, where Bouncer will have a quiet run round the open novice, just to let out all his exuberant behaviour. His first ‘proper’ run will be at Lincoln next week in the open intermediate.

Have a good week and I will tell you how Oasby goes next week!

Kirsty and Bouncer xx