Hi everyone,

What a lovely sunny week it’s been — it makes so much difference even just staying outside to do those extra jobs you wouldn’t normally want to do in deepest, darkest winter.

We had such a busy week last week with the team at Belton Horse Trials all three days. I had Cortage in the novice on the Friday and Bouncer (Cossan Lad) had Saturday dressage and Sunday showjumping and cross-country in the advanced.

Cortage did a lovely test although I let him down and he broke in his medium trot which gave us a score of 31.5 — he would have made a sub-30 had I not messed up my transition. He then went on to jump a nice showjumping round and a super clear cross-country although I had no intention of running fast so we were out of the placings this time. He now heads to Aston-le-Walls intermediate after Badminton. I want to fully focus on Bouncer so the others will be sidelined for a bit and continue their training at home.

Bouncer in the dressage at Belton

The main man did his best dressage test to date — I’m so proud of him and how he settled in the ring. Thankfully my predictions were right and the new dressage tests really suit him. The flying-change at E on the straight side keeps him a lot more calm than when we used to do a change after a half-pass. I watched loads of people having trouble on Sunday when I went to look at the cross-country course to see how it was riding. I have to tell myself to calm down and ignore what most people are doing because hopefully we won’t have that trouble. So while I was course walking, my only concern was a double of skinny logs. My issue wasn’t the logs, but the trees above. I’m always a little apprehensive of low lying branches after a little altercation I had at my fist Burghley two years ago when I ran in to a low branch at Capabilities Cutting. It scratched all of my face and made my nose bleed. All my best friend at the time cared about was if I was going to ruin her wedding photos the week later. Lucky for me the branches at Belton weren’t that low.

Bouncer showjumping at Belton

We had loads of support too. My good friend Amy came to help which made a huge difference. Bouncer didn’t have to wear his tack for ages as my course walk wasn’t until 2.30pm. I was due to jump at 3.20pm so thankfully Amy tacked up while I course walked with my top trainer Polly Jackson Griffin. We had two poles down in the showjumping. Bouncer gained on me in a related distance and then an unlucky pole down to an oxer. The atmosphere got to him a little and I should have taken a few more half halts.

Bouncer in the showjumping at Belton

Continued below…

The cross-country was brilliant — he stormed round with just 10 time penalties. He just flies — I so believe I’m sitting on one of the most amazing cross-country horses in the country. Bouncer finished up well, his legs look great and he is getting to peak fitness. We have been on long hacks and this week combined the gallops as a warm up then hacked to a hill where we did two slow canters.

Bouncer on the cross-country at Belton

Bouncer has one more run before Badminton at Kelsall hill in the open intermediate. We will also be off showjumping and hiring out a fab facility down the road where we use their outdoor dressage ring and play music to help create atmosphere while we practise that all-important four-star test.

Kirsty and Bouncer