The Fellows and instructors course at Addington with eminent trainers Christopher Bartle and Christoph Hess was a fantastic two-day refresher of training ideas.

“No pain, no gain” I told myself. It’s so essential to push oneself and stay current.

The atmosphere was relaxed, the chats numerous, the debate outspoken — especially when bottles of wine were produced. I wonder how we can transport this formula to our judges’ training days?

It was good to see all top British Horse Society (BHS) personnel present — networking, listening and discussing ways ahead — for this course packed with positive discussion.

Hauling oneself back to full competition fitness is never easy. For me, it has felt like the resurrection of the dead; hurting bones, floppy muscles and flabby fat. 
Yet in my head, I’m still 20!

Substituting meals with bananas are my tried-and-tested kick-starter. I’m aware visits to the gym would help, but personally nothing beats riding to get riding fit. There’s also the time-saving benefit of practising on the horse, and having a lesson too, while simultaneously exercising.

One circle rising trot, one circle sitting trot and without stirrups three times a week is my current regime. Why? I fell in love with the horse I originally trained for others to ride.

I admit to buying my horse the most expensive bridle. Although, to be fair, it may have helped this sensitive character a great deal.

The Fairfax and Micklem bridles, to name my favourites, are revolutionary for some horses. But remember that it’s us riders who need to change, too, and put the emphasis on riding.

There’s much mickey-taking of riders who replace their (usually very expensive) saddles and bridles every month. And maybe the critics have a point if it’s simply a case of all the gear and no idea…

Or perhaps some riders are genuinely in search of that feel-good factor? Because horses do feel one’s mood. If one looks and feels the part, it can only add to confidence.

If one feels nervous before entering at 
A —when the judge at C appears terrifying or the white breeches won’t stretch — a tip worth remembering is to shorten the stirrups just one hole. Slightly closing the angle of one’s hip, knee and ankle helps.

Hot to trot

So what’s “in” this season for riders? Surely tall boots can’t get any taller? After my old ones broke, I had to borrow my daughter Pippa’s, necessitating closing my watering eyes to get them on. Agony over, I did secretly think they looked rather glam.

Also on my must-have list for this season is anything silver (it’s the new pink), bold colour blocking (the hot fashion trend) and going sleeveless (if only to avoid farmer’s tan).

I’m in for little prix

Having worked hard to prepare, I was sorry to miss Addington High Profile Show. But the cold got the better of us. With 12pm and 9.30pm times, and commuting from home, it would have been too long in a lorry for grand prix horses.

Many a horse can break at this time of year unless very carefully warmed through before a test. My husband Brian informed me the best I could hope for was a little prix, never mind a grand prix!

Ref: Horse & Hound; 2 February 2017