Before I put pen to paper, I thought I’d have a quick check on where I left off with my blog at the end of last season… WOW! Things have changed! After an incredible week at Blenheim I was just getting used to the idea that I was off to uni in 10 days and was ready to start a new “chapter” of my life.

Well clearly I was not ready enough! I have not only deferred uni for three years, I have moved away from my “comfort zone” of Little Cheverell in Wiltshire to beautiful Sherfield-on-Loddon in Hampshire. Obviously the initial conversation with my parents was rather uncomfortable, however, after explaining myself, they eventually came around to the idea. I felt that doing a full-on course as well as attempting to maintain a full eventing career was more than a little unrealistic. Eventually, something would have had to give and I would have had to compromise on one or the other (or my sanity). Not something I wanted to do.

Once I had decided I wasn’t ready to go straight to uni I faced the prospect of running my horses as a professional and as a business. Unfortunately, there was no space for me to expand at Coral Keen’s yard, and so I decided to move to a slightly less densely populated area (in terms of eventers), where I was more likely to find business and where there was less competition.

So answering an ad in the back of Horse & Hound, I found the yard I was looking for in a perfect area, Basingstoke, Hampshire. Mark Swan, who has worked for me for nearly three years as a freelance competition groom, has started working for me full-time. It’s exciting working with someone with so much experience. So mid-December, Mark and I moved the horses to Lillymill Farm, Pentire Sport Horses and a lorry load of furniture to our small two bedroom house near by.

Snow problems

Not long afterwards, the snow fell… and fell… and fell until Mark and I were walking an hour to get in to do the horses through half a foot of snow. First the horses could not go out, then they could not use the school and finally even the walker was not an option. After five days of the horses being stuck in their boxes going absolutely crazy with boredom we finally made the decision to load everything back in the truck and pop back to Wiltshire for a while. Ours was the only vehicle to make it out of the yard during the whole week. Niki Ryan very kindly put us up for 10 days or so and we joined other unfortunate refugees in her indoor school.

Recent news

I made a quick trip up to BETA yesterday, which is an annual exhibition of all kinds of horse products from every corner of the world. It was the first time for me. No one mentioned quite how large the Birmingham NEC is and that there are 36 parking lots! I made a significant blunder of not noting down which I was in. Having realised I had potentially lost my car forever, I was on a shuttle bus driven by either a very deaf or very rude bus driver who refused to tell me where I had come from and where he was taking me.

The agenda for the day was to visit my long term supplements sponsor Equine Products Ltd UK. It’s quite amazing that we have been involved for almost four years now and it is credit to them that all my horses are in such good shape.

Having settled in to the new yard, my four advanced horses, Chico, Jeans, Maggie (Magenta) and Fiddle (ESB Irish Fiddle) are all on very good form indeed, but I need to leave something to talk about next week so more on them then!

My website has had quite a few new features and pages since the end of last season. Most of the videos have been uploaded and we have worked hard to put together a page called My Favourite Things. Having always been based at another professional’s yard, I have always used their products (feed, bedding etc). Now that I am responsible for myself (not a pleasant thought for those that know me) I have had the opportunity to experiment and try out new and different products for myself. Hopefully, through My Favourite Things, I will be able to introduce you to the products, tell you the story of how we got involved and most importantly why it is that they have made such a difference to my horses. So please if you have a moment take the opportunity to see how much effort has gone into making sure my horses only have the best!

By the way, I can’t believe I’m on the front of Horse & Hound! This has been a particular dream of mine, and it’s a bit surreal that it’s actually happened. I had a little shock when I first saw it come through the letterbox. My first thought was that some b*****d had stolen my cross-country colours!

Until next week,

Alex

Alex’s website

Pictures of Alex competing

Alex’s diary archive