Burghley debutante Coral Keen will be blogging for H&H in the run up to and during this year's Burghley Horse Trials (4-7 September). Follow her journey with Wellshead Fare Opposition aka Derby here.
In three weeks time I will be making my debut at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials on Wellshead Fare Opposition, or Derby (pictured) as we call him at home.
Born on Derby day 10 years ago, we bought him as a four-year-old and from the moment I sat on him I knew I had a very special horse.
It was as if he had already been there and done that in a previous life. He has everything I look for in an event horse — a trainable brain, a huge amount of scope and an absolute love of the job. We have such a wonderful partnership and I adore him.
He is now owned by my father Steve’s company Total Equestrian Construction, which also sponsors my yard near Devizes in Wiltshire.
I am incredibly lucky to have a fantastic set up just a stone’s throw from Salisbury Plain and its thanks to my dad, my sponsors — Saracen Feeds, Westgate EFI, Gatehouse, Point Two, Katherine Partis, Ready Supp and Devoucoux — and a great team behind me that I am able to event my own horses and those belonging to other people for a living.
When I am not riding and competing, I love teaching and there’s nothing more satisfying than watching horses and riders improve, even if it is just tiny steps at a time.
I’ve been riding all my life and I’m lucky to have a background entrenched in horses. My great aunt is the legendary Marion Mould, who claimed so many huge showjumping successes with the pony Stroller. My mother Crystal Mouland showjumped and was on various teams alongside showing to a very high level. My step-mother Anne Keen is a dressage judge. While my dad evented up to two-star level.
As for Derby, I have the utmost confidence in him that he will give me a memorable debut over those famous Burghley fences. However, the course is online, and I have to admit I haven’t quite plucked up the courage to watch it yet as I might not sleep again until the competition.
Last weekend Derby and I finished 15th at Hartpury in the three-star which I was delighted with. I didn’t push him across country so we picked up time faults and it was a strong class.
I had a jumping lesson with Yogi Breisner earlier this week where we made sure all the things we are working on are still in place — using a single upright barrel, an oxer and two uprights, all approached on varying lines and at different speeds and distances.
I am working to a fitness plan that Yogi has given me with the aim of being at peak fitness 12 days before cross-country day.
As for me, I ride up to 10 horses a day, but I’ve stepped up my own fitness considerably. I’ve been running, cycling and swimming and doing some static exercises for my core strength.
I’m also having a few sessions with Olympic psychology coach Charlie Unwin who helps riders thrive under pressure.
Riding at Burghley is an incredible opportunity and I don’t want to let any of my team down who have helped get me here so I am leaving no stones unturned to ensure that Derby and I do the best we possible can.