As another week goes by and we get closer and closer to the date for the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, exciting things are starting to happen.

These included my first cross-country schooling with “Joe”, Uptons Who, yesterday at Somerford Park Farm. It was so nice to pop round the training course with Joe so excited and fresh — he felt like a four-year-old as he landed and bucked after the first few fences.

I also did some teaching while I was there, and rode Joe while helping FEI pony rider Kristina Hall-Jackson on her ponies. Once Joe and Kristina’s pony were warmed up we started by linking a few simple fences together, working on our rhythm and the quality of canter to the fences.

As the initial excitement of being in a big open field wore off, Joe started to concentrate with both his ears pointing firmly on the next fence. I smiled as I remembered how much he just loves to get out and do the job! With the sky looking dark and cloudy, we luckily just missed a big downpour of rain.

Earlier on in the week we had a visit from our vet Tom Walters, from Thomason Walters in Cheshire, to check teeth and vaccinations before the start of the season. Everything is now up to date, so we are ready to crack on.

Hacking, polework and a new saddle

We have been out hacking a couple of times up the Lancashire hills and also working with related distances and raised poles in the school. This is something I do a lot, playing around with distances trying to get Joe to move on and shorten — I find it helps him concentrate and also gives him variety as he enjoys it — as well as working on movements for his dressage.

And talking of dressage, my sponsors Southern Stars Saddlery sent me a brand new top-of-the-range dressage saddle, which arrived on Tuesday. So, keen to ride in it, we worked a few horses in the afternoon and it felt very nice, fitted lovely and really helped my position. They are available on the Southern Stars website, and now also in the online shop at www.benhobday.com. They are brilliant saddles and a lot of top riders are using them, I can’t wait to ride in mine at Badminton!

Season plans

The season is very nearly here and entries have started to open, including Badminton, so by next week we should be entered up, which is very exciting!

The first event I’m planning is Isleham in Norfolk on 5-6 March, so not long now. I just hope the weather stays OK as I think we could possibly be due some more snow. And we really don’t want that!

Next week we are back at Somerford for more cross-country training. But first Joe’s going showjumping at Aintree this weekend, and we are heading off to the gallops at the end of the week, as well as having a visit from the farrier.

So until next week

Best regards

Ben

Ben’s first blog

Ben will be blogging on www.horseandhound.co.uk every week in the build-up to his first Badminton, so check back next week to read more.