It’s a new year and with all the snow hopefully behind us, I look forward to giving you an insight into my preparations for the forthcoming season and the exciting build-up to my first Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

It’s been a busy winter for me and the team at Hobday International. I have backed and broken in three young horses, which are a part of my new enterprise, The Shadow Stud. All of them are very smart and are showing a lot of promise — they have a lot to live up to as they look across at their stable-mate Shadow Boxer, who won the Burghley young event horse four-year-old final last year (left).

My Badminton ride is “Joe”, Uptons Who, with whom I won young rider team gold and individual bronze in 2008 (pictured below right at Belton in 2009). We were meant to be on the young rider squad again in 2009, but Joe sustained a small injury so although he wasn’t lame, we decided not to run him but just to give him the time to recover fully and try to get him to a four-star. He’s been back in work now since the middle of last year.

Joe went to his first jumping show of the year at Aintree recently, where he jumped a very excitable double clear, which he was very pleased with, as he demonstrated by bucking between fences! It was really nice to have him out, and for him to be so happy with his work. He had been busy hacking over the winter months and now clipped out and looking top dollar, he couldn’t wait to get down to business.

The physio came yesterday to give him an MOT ready for the start of the season and said he was feeling great, so with him in full swing it’s onwards and upwards!

Hobday online

I have also spent many nights over the winter months designing and building a new website — not so easy when you’re not the best on a computer but I have enjoyed doing it and am kind of proud of how it has turned out. It’s now live at www.benhobday.com and it will give regular updates of the horses’ results, what’s happening with the team and also new products in the online shop.

Learning the hard way

I also had a major blow to my team which was deeply upsetting — two very talented and successful horses I have produced from the start of their careers left my yard. Every rider needs horses for the future, but it seems a shame that younger riders suffer as seniors take on horses that are about to move up to a higher level, after someone else puts in all the ground work.

How are young riders meant to break through to the senior ranks if this keeps happening? The idea of a “name” riding your horse must be appealing, but it doesn’t mean they will do a better job. I wish the horses the best of luck as I am very fond of them and have very high expectations for their futures.

Maybe this is a “make or break” situation, time will tell, but this has certainly made me more determined to succeed. I recently saw an interesting letter in H&H’s sister magazine, Eventing. Sent in by Michael Wynne, it reminded me eventing is a business and that we cannot live in hope — in some cases, even when you do have the superstar horse, things don’t go to plan.

That’s why with The Shadow Stud I want to produce quality horses to reach the top, but earn a living as well. This enterprise gives owners and myself a chance to own horses together and compete at the highest level and also profit from producing and selling.

Anyway, back to the day-to-day stuff, next week I plan to take Joe for his first cross-country session schooling of the year along with a few of his stable-mates, so I will let you know how it goes…

Till then,

Best regards,

Ben

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.