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Rumour surrounds the proposed new four-star eventing tests. I speak from hearsay, having been unable to get my hands on them. But several eventers appear to have done so. A flying change at X to start has been discussed. This movement used to be in the inter II test. I remember riding it and it’s not easy. Given the flying change aid, many an otherwise obedient horse bucked, farted and nearly had me off. So how unfair to a fit four-star horse. Hopefully the rumour that this has been shelved proves to be true.

Flying changes have become the norm, and rightly so when they’re invaluable for jumping. But let’s not forget that good turns are also needed. And how long before we see 5m half circles in a very collected canter followed by an extension and then a walk? That would show engagement, to forwardness, to relaxation. Boekelo’s dressage results were a disaster. Each judge had a different leader and one partnership was awarded 52nd, 25th and fifth places by respective judges. Yet again, it underlined the need for at least one top international dressage judge to be on international eventing panels. As with anything competitive, experience raises the others’ game. And, boy, do they need raising.

Taxing times ahead

There being nothing so certain as death and taxes, it was about the latter that I recently had some stressful news. To cut a long story short, there’d been a massive miscalculation by an accounts person. The upshot was that we unexpectedly owed serious amounts to the tax man. It came to light just as my husband and I were about to take a long-awaited holiday. Well, bad news has to be faced — so instead of collapsing under the strain, a plan was formed, goals set and we came home positive that hard work — and no thoughts of retirement — would sort this.

I mention my taxing times as almost no one in the equine industry is in love with HMRC. It’s tough to make ends meet and stay smiling. It’s equally important to discipline oneself to take a break now and then.

Horses get stressed too. One who showed Charlie and Pippa Hutton the ropes at grand prix has always lived in our competition yard. However, when it filled up with current competing horses, he was moved to a different part of the yard.

Well, he stopped eating and became ill. So on a hunch, we reshuffled and moved him back. Bingo! A yard relocation, and he was back to good health. If only they could talk…

Facebook’s intrigue… and vitriol

I continue to embrace Facebook. Above all, I’ve come to learn how current, continual, interesting and personalised posts are so helpful to influencing business positively. However, this newbie has also discovered social media’s darker side.

Having been forthright in my annoyance over some negative posts on several sites, I’ve found out what “unfriending” means. Yes, I and several hundred “friends” have hit the deck. Only with a name untraceable back to me can I now observe in wonder.

A word of warning to those who vent their spleens while hiding behind keyboards. Apparently there are now lawyers earning fortunes scanning the internet for breaches
of copyright (for example if one were to reproduce a page from H&H without permission) and also libel/defamation of others. So please think before you digitally murder top riders, horses or even columnists.

Used constructively, social media is great. While quietly meditating on holiday, I was interrupted by Carl Hester’s voice on my phone. There he was, live on Facebook, doing his demo at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).

I was able to watch the freestyle tests too. And thank goodness Carl is postponing retirement. What a horse Hawtins Delicato is! Anyway, Carl — we love watching you ride.

Ref Horse & Hound; 3 November 2016