Camilla Bingham’s showjumping blog: recoup, regroup and recycle

  • It was always our overall plan to do feature shows leading up to August and then come home for some down time. For us, it gives us an opportunity to see where we are at, assess how the team are doing and create a plan for the rest of the year.

    It is also nice in terms of this blog to be able to give you a bit more background into my base at Puttenham Place and everything that goes on here, as well as being able to properly introduce some of my younger horses.

    Building in a break in our competition year for me is vital for the horses that have been competing at the higher levels. We use this time to give them a proper once over, seeing if anyone may need a little bit of help in terms of the physio or being checked over by the vet. There is nothing more important to us than having happy, healthy horses.

    So in terms of my older team at the moment, my lovely grey horse Timmy has had a little break from of intense jumping. He has still been ticked over and gone out to do some fun bits and pieces, but it is nice for him to have some down-time and to take the pressure off.

    In contrast, for my top mare Fleurie again it has definitely been the right time to bring her home, but for her she has really benefited from some intense training. It has been a very interesting time over the past couple of weeks to assess how we are doing and get some different eyes on her. We have concluded that I am perhaps a bit too upright with her and not letting her relax enough over a fence. In turn, it could be creating a very slight inverted jump, which leads to having rails in front.

    From this observation we have been working on taking the pressure off, really getting her working through from behind. We have been doing lots of gymnastic work over little fences, trying to encourage her to make the right shape again. It just shows how a break can really open your eyes to the finer details to help you then move forwards.

    I have also had a couple of flatwork lessons, which again have been great, focusing on getting the horses working from behind. I think because I have quite big and long horses, I can sometimes let them get a bit strung out, so it was good to work on getting them really engaged and lightening the front end. A worthwhile exercise and something I would definitely recommend.

    Fleurie and I having a lesson

    Being at home has also given me a good amount of time to focus on our six-year-old Cambridge (pictured top). We have really pushed on with him, doing lots of training and taking him out and about. We have been consolidating him at Discovery level and keeping him at the lower heights to get his confidence up in the ring so I can gauge exactly where he is at. We never like to rush our horses and he is already making great progress.

    Another lovely young one we have at home is a five-year-old called Munch. We have been working on his fitness levels, his strength and fattening him up a bit. With my experience with big horses, when you get to a place where you are happy and think they look really good, they then need another month to grow. He will be a slow one as he is very big, but he is lovely and super-sweet, so a pleasure to work with.

    Hacking Munch at home

    Further down the youngstock line we are very excited this year to welcome a couple more home-breds to the team. Our very special mare Wembley and Billy Jingle both had filly foals. Wembley, in typical Wembley style, had hers two weeks early, with no word of warning to anyone! This meant that she did need a bit more help, care and observation, but thankfully everything was absolutely fine. The foal is now big and strong and turned out with all the others. Jingle again had another stonking foal — it looked like it was five weeks old at five days! But she is a beautiful foal and both are very exciting for the future.

    Thinking about the winter, there are so many things you can do across Europe. Our initial thought was Spain, but it is a hell of a trek, and so we now think we are going to put together a little tour of Belgium. We will aim to be out there for three or four weeks, take all horses (bar the youngest ones) and get some concentrated shows in. It will be closer to home, be a good start to the indoor season and we will then finish off in December. My horses will then have month off, with chilled hacking and to get focused for 2020.

    Continued below…

    My final closing paragraph is something a bit different, but an area that hugely interests me — sustainability. For some time now, we have really been trying to turn our attention to how we could be more eco-friendly around the yard. I listen to a lot of podcasts and try and read up as much as I can to be more conscious of what is going on. However, it is definitely not easy as an equestrian — there is so much plastic with hay, shavings, supplements, feed bags and so on. But at my yard we do really try. Our feed comes from Allen & Page in paper bags, for supplements we use recyclable pots or keep them for something else and we use Succeed paste which comes in recyclable syringes. When doing things with the horses, we are really conscious about using products such as wet wipes, or items that are tested on animals. We are still very much in the early stages, but we are focused on the research and trying to become a lot more sustainable. It will be a topic I will be revisiting, so keep an eye out for my eco-friendly equestrian tips!

    Until next time,

    C x

    For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

    You may like...