I’m not sure it would matter how many times I got to ride down the centre line at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, it will always seem a surreal and an almost out of body experience…something that I will always cherish.

Splash (Drumbilla Metro) surpassed all my expectations yesterday (31 August), performing the test of his life. With Richard Davison and Piggy French’s help, we have improved significantly in the past 12 months and I was thrilled that all that hard work was rewarded with a mark of 51.9, putting us momentarily into the lead which was rather exciting!

The morning started early with Splash and I working down by the Lion Bridge at about 6.30am and he worked really well. Richard has been encouraging me in the warm-up to allow him to make mistakes so that he can learn from them to make him more rideable when he gets into the arena.

We put him away for some down time, and mid-morning he had a lunge before I got on him for the test. For where we are at the moment in our training, I could not have asked for more of him — he tried incredibly hard. I came out and almost got emotional when interviewed, which was extremely embarrassing, but I can honestly say I am absolutely thrilled with him.

Splash in the dressage

With all the excitement, I decided to take Douglas for a gentle hack around a quiet part of the estate. It is stunningly beautiful, we are so privileged to be able to ride here, and Douglas had a gentle canter which he loved. We went for the familiarisation before I worked him in the collecting ring and he went beautifully. However, Douglas’ spooking is worse when he’s fresh, so I refuse to be lulled into a false sense of security that he will ‘probably be ok’ and will work him thoroughly before his test at 12.36pm today.

Continued below…

I’ve walked the course and it is enormous, as well as technical and difficult in places, but I know both these horses are such fantastic jumpers, so have a lot of confidence in them. Fingers crossed anyway.

Simon

Don’t miss this week’s H&H (on sale today, Thursday 31 August), including a Burghley pull-out with full form guide, dressage test, course map and more.