The start of February for me has been all about shopping and what girl does not like to shop!

I really hope that The Giant Bolster (aka Sammy) will be successful in the show ring as well as in the dressage arena. So I contacted my saddler Maurice and had Sammy measured for a Black Country classic saddle. I have used these saddles previously and find them to be very comfortable.

Also on the shopping list was a coloured browband, because now he is a ‘riding horse’ he will wear one of these in the ring instead of a plain browband. I spoke to a lovely lady called Katey at Prestige Browbands — I expressed concern as Sammy already has a lot of white on his face, with his big blaze, and I did not want anything too loud. I did, however, want to stay true to his racing colours of owner Simon Hunt. Katey has risen to the challenge fantastically and designed a ‘Giant Bolster browband’ especially for him and I am now super excited to see it when it arrives. Kit sorted!

I was also really happy to see our chiropractor, Emma Padfield, a couple of weeks ago. She came out to treat some horses in the yard — she is always great fun to catch up with and she was pleased to be able to check her old pal Sammy too. Emma treated Sammy throughout his racing career, so it was fascinating to hear what she thought of his progress. Happily, she was delighted and was impressed with his continued flexibility, strength and increasing topline — she commented that his quarters are the strong est they have ever been. The beast is certainly building up!

Two weekends ago, we ventured to our first Retraining of Racehorses (ROR) dressage clinic with instructor Sue McMahon. Having got a little lost around Gloucester on the way (sorry Sammy and thank goodness you are a good traveller!) we arrived at the venue. Sue introduced herself and asked what aims I wished to achieve, while Sammy relaxed and got used to the sand school. I later realised that Sue was also assessing us at the time — I am always amazed how a good trainer, like Sue, can spot so much in such a short space of time. Hawk eyes !

Continued below…

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We worked mainly on straightness, transitions and self-carriage and I was delighted with Sammy’s progress. Sue was very impressed with his willing attitude, active hindleg and loved his huge canter. She was very helpful and encouraging, plus gave me some great exercises to practice at home.

On the way home, I have to admit, I felt quite choked-up. Sammy gave so much to all of us during his racing career and is still being a star now — he really is the horse that keeps on giving. I think he knows how loved he is.

Lucy