I was excited to see the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials cross-country course preview on the Horse & Hound website. Giuseppe della Chiesao has made some significant changes! It looks rather large and very demanding compared to last year.

The Vicarage Vee caught my eye for being ridiculously big. There are 3 big jumping efforts into water, which will really test the horse’s bravery and confidence.

Geronimo jumping into the water at Bramham

Geronimo at Bramham

As you can see from this picture of Al (Geronimo) at Bramham, that’s not normally a problem for him.

I quite like it from a first timer’s point of view as there are a few new combinations out there which the old timers wouldn’t have seen or jumped before, so puts us on a more level playing field. I can’t wait to see the course in the flesh; it has made me even more eager to get there.

Gearing up for the big day

Al is feeling extremely well. He has been to the gallops a couple of times this week and I had a dressage lesson yesterday (Tuesday 22 April) in a long arena on grass at Pulborough (pictured top).

He got rather excited as he could see other horses jumping the cross-country and showjumping fences and to top it off a string of race horses were going up the gallops. Gill [Watson] assures me this is all good preparation for the atmosphere at Badminton!

The first half an hour was fairly wild; a lot of cantering, rising trot and stretching. After that I was ready to start lateral work and practise some movements from the test. We gave him a long rein in walk and when I picked him up again his mindset had improved and he became more rideable.

I was then able to run through the test for a final time while mum videoed. After the eventful start, I was very happy with how he went in the end.

A rare day off

I actually managed to have a day off on Monday and spent a very enjoyable day at Hackwood Point-to-Point. I went with my boyfriend Giles and some friends; I didn’t back any winners as I was too busy eating, drinking and chatting!

I’m off to Pyecombe showjumping today (Wednesday 23 April) to jump the 1.20m and 1.30m classes to get my eye in for the bigger fences. Over the years I have learnt that if Al doesn’t go out regularly, he behaves like a 4-year-old who has never seen a cross pole before!

This Sunday I’ve got 3 horses competing at Chilham Park; luckily we have had a bit of rain so the ground should be fabulous! I will also be keeping my eye on the Badminton website during the next week to find out the running order. Fingers crossed I won’t be too late to go — there is nothing worse than waiting all day to go cross-country.

Sophie