Since my last blog we have taken the time to slowly get Kaja Di Valentina (Kaja) in the field.
She is not always the easiest to settle in the field initially as she is quite flighty, but she really needs to get out to keep her head together.
So after hours of intermittent watching and with the sunshine and new spring grass coming out, we have achieved it. It’s her first proper turnout since her injury, when she was on box rest and then the winter weather meant we were unable to turn her out afterwards.
Mares are funny; I think they are less predictable than stallions and often much more hormonal. But maybe that’s just Kaja! I wouldn’t have it any other way though as when she is with me the partnership is so strong.
In my last blog I mentioned some surprises, which I can now reveal.
I was approached by Nibeley Stud to ride their stallion Nibeley Union Jack, who had not been ridden for a few months or competed for some time. I went to try him and instantly loved his movement. We entered some competitions and his owner worked on his fitness while I was away for a week. At the end of the week it was disappointing to find out he would not be ready for me to compete as the fitness training had not gone to plan.
So Nibley Stud kindly offered me a different ride as we had already entered a number of competitions.
I jumped on Nibeley Utopia (pictured top and right), a 16.3hh chestnut gelding who had only competed to medium level a while ago and his flying changes were green and not at all established. But we had entered an advanced medium test so we had to get on with it!
I had a few days to ride him before competing. I worked on calming his excitement during the flying changes where he was changing and then changing back or changing late or not at all and sometimes running through my hands.
It was a fun couple of days, but then it was show time. When he arrived at the competition with his owners Utopia had got a bit sweaty as he hadn’t travelled for a long time. He was subsequently quite subdued in the tests; quite different to how he had been at home.
I knew I had another test a couple of days later so used the first tests to discover the gears and ride the movements in a test setting.
The next competition was much better and despite immature flying changes, we improved by 3% from the first test and he maintained a great frame throughout. We ended on almost 64% which I was pleased with as I had only ridden him five times and he was still green at the level.
GB and Europe
I was recently invited to the final GB junior squad training day on Kaja which was hosted at Talland Equestrian in Gloucestershire, thanks to the hospitality of the Hutton family.
I wanted to perform at my best, but we were in the throes of establishing some form of turnout for Kaja. She warmed up beautifully, which is sometimes a difficult for her in company as she doesn’t like other horses close to her.
The test we then had to perform was going really well until she decided to scare herself with a corner mirror and jump around. We continued pretty quickly but obviously it affected our final score.
I am looking forward to a clean test now that we have managed to get her full turnout routine sorted (pictured left). We are almost there and hopefully we have timed it right for our exciting trip to Saumur in France next week where I am thrilled to be competing as a member of the GB Junior Nations Cup Team.
Wish me luck, along with the rest of the team. It will great to be out there with GB pony, young rider and senior squad riders too. I will let you know how it goes.