The Blair-bound blog — my first one-star: last-minute brakes testing and a gazebo disaster

  • Hi guys,

    The countdown begins to our leaving date for Blair Castle Horse Trials. The past week has been filled with lessons and appointments, making sure that Feu and I are performing at our best and ready to run this week. It’s now just a case of sorting the mammoth task of what food to take with us and packing everything we need for Feu.

    Last Saturday we managed to slot in a quick cross-country schooling session at Tweseldown. Having looked at last year’s cross-country course photos of Blair we fine-tuned our training to the specific fences we might encounter in Scotland. These included jumping a fence in water, a ditch-rail-ditch combination, as well as a number of corners and skinnies.

    Feu cross-country schooling

    He went beautifully, filling us both with the confidence we needed for next week. This was also a perfect opportunity to triple check that our new brakes work! (currently he is in a long shank hackamore combination with a chain around the back). We’ve also had a final dressage training session with Sara-Jane Lanning, just tweaking our test to try and achieve the best mark we can — we were both exhausted after being put through our paces but very pleased with the results, and it was perfect that Sara-Jane has the white boards set up to practice in.

    Cressy has been amazing and managed to fit in two jumping lessons for us this week too. The first being a grid session just to sharpen Feu and I up, and the second was jumping more of a course. I find that having two lessons the week running up to an event really helps us, as Feu is so keen on his jumping, we don’t tend to jump him much in between events. It’s just a case of remembering to have him forward and off the leg but keeping enough in the hand that he doesn’t go flat — no mean feat with a very enthusiastic jumper! Our most recent lesson yesterday was working on jumping around a course at 1.30m with a few 1.40m fences too. This was ideal for boosting our confidence.

    Feu jumping at home

    Feu also had a routine physio session on Wednesday to ease him off ready for the trip with Jenny Wilson at Bridgefield Physiotherapy, who has been treating him since we got him a year and a half ago. We’ve worked so hard at building up Feu’s back end; to within reason! We realised that sending him to the water treadmill over the winter left us with a very fit and muscled horse, but with no brakes! Slight problem there.

    Feu jumping at home

    The lorry has had a full cleaning and is gradually being packed ready for the off on Monday morning (today!). I am pleased to say that the curtain is taking pride of place in the front of the lorry after taking me a whole afternoon to finish. A small issue arose with the gazebo which we had bought, but what’s an adventure without a few challenges to throw a spanner in the works! It turns out that the gazebo which we had originally bought turned out to weigh 46kg and was far too big. So last Monday morning, mum and I drove the three hours to Northampton to get it sorted and exchange it for a much lighter 18kg version — phew!

    Continues below…

    Today (Saturday prior to leaving for Blair) has been a day of finalising our route up to Blair. We’ve realised that Feu isn’t the best traveller and so needs a few days to rest before competing. We’ve managed to find two racecourses to stop at where we can unload Feu and graze in-hand. Stu has been amazing at the yard and has sorted accommodation for Feu and I for the Monday night at a friend of his. This means that we will take two days to travel to Blair, giving Feu the best chance once we arrive.

    I will keep you all updated with our journey to Blair and throughout the event. I hope you will continue to follow us on our adventures.


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