Welcome to my Burghley diary. Years of early mornings and late nights have gone into getting my tricky Irish grey mare Star Prospect [Sky] ready for her (and my) four-star debut and I can’t wait.
I work full-time with children in foster homes, ensuring that they get the educational opportunities that are rightfully theirs. It is a really rewarding job and I do enjoy it, despite all the travelling it involves. I’m not sure I am cut out to do horses full-time.
Although it is fairly flexible, working full-time does make eventing difficult. I don’t have time to ride many horses so have to focus my time and efforts. It’s not too bad when it’s daylight, as I can ride early or late, but once the clocks change it’s really hard.
Star Prospect [Sky] is by Prospect Pride out of a Skyboy mare, and is Irish through and through. She came over to England as a 6-year-old and when I bought her as an 8-year-old, she really hadn’t done much.
She only cost me £2,500 because she can be difficult, but she is a great jumper. She doesn’t cope well with pressure and when I got her rearing was her favourite pastime. We started eventing in 2003 and we did our first one-star at the end of that season. At the end of 2005 we finished 8th in the two-star at Weston Park. Since then we have competed in a number of three-stars with varying success.
We had some problems on the cross-country with her being too strong, but a bit change to a pelham appears to have done the trick. She also didn’t see the point of going over narrow fences, when it was so easy to go around them! But now she gives me a great feeling across country. Whatever way you look at it, eventing is a dangerous sport and for all her faults, she makes me feel very safe — there isn’t anything that she wouldn’t jump.
She can be very good, or not, in the dressage. It all comes down to how tense she is on the day and what the atmosphere is like. She runs on her nerves and is on a load of calming supplements. Olympic Horse Feeds have also been a huge help with getting her feeding right. The show jumping can be a bit hit or miss. At the start of the season she was jumping clear or having just 1 down. More recently it’s been more like three. You just can’t tell how it is going to go with her.
I’ve always dreamt of doing a four-star and when I get to Burghley I am going to be achieving a lifetime ambition. I am a very competitive person and if Sky performs as well as she could, then she will be in with a chance of a top 10 place. Being realistic I want to achieve a personal best and get my qualification for Badminton in the spring.
We are off to Thirlestane Castle CIC*** this weekend. Wish us luck! I’ll let you know how we get on early next week.