When I was small (yes, I know I still am — I mean young!), I was always told that you create your own luck, and so I completely agree with the words of Tony Robbins:
“The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offspring we call luck.”
With that in mind, starting a few months ago, I planned a campaign for both Douglas and Splash (Drumbilla Metro) with the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in mind. This incorporates a varied work schedule including plenty of hacking, hill work, flat training, jumping and galloping.
Hacking is the basis to my horse’s fitness and we are very lucky to have some fantastic hills here in Leicestershire and thankfully relatively safe roads. Both horses gallop every fourth day (a programme that gets progressively more taxing) and I’ve incorporated into that their final runs at Aston Le Walls for Douglas and Cholmondeley Castle for Splash.
The intensity of canter work peaks a week before Burghley, so that theoretically they are at their best by cross-country day. And yes, I admit, I have woken up in the middle of the night several times thinking, “am I doing enough?” and “I hope I’m not going to let them down because they’re not fit enough”. I don’t imagine I’m alone in this thought cycle (for anyone, at any level), but I feel that I can’t do any more than I have without exposing them to the risk of injury — it’s a fine balance to achieve, but an important one.
The seat of all equestrian evil — or so I thought as a boy! Actually, the building blocks of equestrianism that is dressage, makes for easier horses in every sphere with the correct training. That makes me sound like I find it easy or really enjoy it — not strictly true as anyone who knows me will tell you, but knowing what I want to achieve is vital in maintaining dedication to this element of my riding. After Bramham, I cornered Richard Davison to make a programme of training for the boys. I have lost count of how many times we have been to him and his fabulous setup since, but both the horses and I are thoroughly enjoying the journey.
I’ve been lucky enough to get help from top riders like Holly Smith and Di Lampard which is great, but I also spend a lot of time on the road pure showjumping with all my horses. They enjoy it, and to my mind there is nothing more beneficial than match practice. Both horses finished first and second in the Foxhunter at Onley recently.
Unfortunately I had my foot crushed falling off a youngster in early July and I am still pretty lame which makes running a no go area. However, cycling has been a good substitute, and riding horses hasn’t been affected. I ride on average eight horses a day, and that keeps me riding fit, but I do worry my cardiovascular fitness has unavoidably been affected.
The horses go out as much as possible and their diet is individually tailored to them — they’re so different with Splash being quite fussy while Douglas is a good doer! Their condition and body scores are closely monitored and we take their temperatures daily. I’m trying to keep on top of my condition too… neither horse wants a heavy Simon flopping around on their back.
Splash had the pleasure of enjoying the Hickstead Eventer Challenge which was great fun. He then ran round Cholmondeley open intermediate for a double clear. Douglas then competed at Aston Le Walls where again he jumped a super double clear, albeit steady across country. Both horses are on excellent form — I’ve galloped them both today and they felt good. They’ve both had physio and saddle fitting checks in the past couple of weeks too.
More dressage and galloping is on the cards in the next couple of weeks with visits to a couple of British Showjumping shows too. I’m currently sat in my lorry at Somerford Park at 6.30am having already driven 2.5 hours to get here with four horses on board, so it’s still business as usual here at Team Grieve!
I hope my Burghley preparation has been sufficient, but I’m told that although; “preparation doesn’t assure victory, it assures confidence”.
Both would be marvellous — we’ll see!