Having been asked to write a blog in the run up to this year’s Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials I went in search of inspiration and found Nana Dalton’s blog from last year and also the articles that Sam Watson used to do for Eventing magazine. They are clearly both very good at this sort of thing!
Luckily for you all I have been given a fairly tight word limit which will curb my waffling. I am writing this sat in the office before leaving to head down to Gatcombe for an advanced dressage test.
As I am far from a well-known eventing celebrity, I will give you a bit of an introduction. My name is Ben Way and I am a 27-year-old ‘amateur’ rider. I rather foolishly run my string of horses alongside my full-time job as a chartered surveyor. I work for a regional property firm called Butler Sherborn who are based in the Cotswolds.Thankfully the owner of Butler Sherborn, Sam Butler, is very understanding and his wife co-owns Bill Levett’s four-star horse Improvise.
Having worked for Butler Sherborn for five years they are pretty used to me taking holiday at rather short notice and not being able to plan my diary for a Friday until the times come out on BDWP!
So onto the horses. I am based at home on the family farm and share the yard with my girlfriend Sarah Parkes who is a proper professional rider! Between us we run about 18 horses. Sarah and I have just converted a traditional barn on the yard, part of which used to be the horse wash box and moved in there in November.
As I have said I am an ‘amateur’ rider but the yard behind me is very professional and without the support from mum, Sarah and my stepfather John and the team at home there is no way I would be able to manage working and running the horses.
Mum and John both ride out and mum does all of the office work, entries and invoices; every rider needs a mum! (I must admit, I would not have a clue how to enter a horse).
I have got a great team of horses at the moment with my top two at three- and four-star level and some very exciting younger horses coming through.
I have not long got back from the Nations Cup competition at Great Meadows in the US which was an incredible experience. Most importantly it meant that I got a Union Jack on my hat which has always been on my bucket list!
Galley Light, owned by Elizabeth Collins, is the horse that I am planning to take to Burghley. He is a 13-year-old ex-racehorse that started his eventing career at seven having raced in Ireland.
Galley’s weakest phase has always been the dressage, but with the help of Ruth Edge it has improved a great deal, however he (and I) still struggle with flying-changes.
We had a brilliant start to the season with a double clear at Badminton finishing 12th. Since then he has had an open intermediate run and then a good prep-run in the CIC3* up at Burgham in Northumberland. The plan now will be to head to Sommerford for a nice open intermediate run and then off to Burghley.
Galley and I did make our Burghley debut last year, but unfortunately we had a very dramatic-looking fall at the Rolex Combination halfway round the cross-country. I think I was the biggest photo in the H&H thrills and spills page!
So the plan is to keep you all updated in the lead up to Burghley. However, as with most riders you can’t just focus on the big events and I have got a very busy time at Aston-le-Walls this coming week so fingers crossed.