The nights are already so much lighter, which means so much more can get done without battling against the clock. Although we had a lovely warm week a while back, it has still been rather chilly at times and the horses are somewhat confused as to what to do coat wise — it is certainly keeping me on my toes rugging according to the temperature.
Each horse is groomed daily with my fabulous grooming kit from new sponsors KBF99. Daily grooming is essential as the horses moult and grow out their clips. KBF99 products claim to “bring science to the stable” and aim to assist in helping protect against infection and reinfection of troublesome and painful diseases. All my horses are thoroughly enjoying their grooming sessions with the new kits.
It has been a busy time for show entries — many shows close so early these days and it takes some serious organisation and a complex Excel spreadsheet to ensure the horses are entered for the correct classes at the right shows! I go through all the schedules early on and then map out the season for each horse as best I can. One of the main things to take into account for the ex-racehorses are which showgrounds will suit which them, as some of them are buzzier than others. I will take the novice horses along for the ride to some of these shows, as they gain so much experience just from hacking around the showground. It gives them chance to take in all the sights and sounds without the pressure of having to compete in the ring.
Even if I am not staying over at shows I will always book stables for the horses (where possible). Having a stable to put the horses in has really helped with the pre-class preparation. When in training, the racehorses are used to being offloaded at the track and heading straight for the stables. Following their classes, each horse also has some downtime back at the stables, much like they would have done after running a race. Continuing this routine has resulted in much more settled horses in the competition ring.
All our former racehorses follow a varied training programme, regardless of their specialist discipline. March saw some fabulous results for all the horses between the white boards in dressage competitions. I am hopeful that I will qualify four of the boys for the Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) National Championships. Kings Grey and Word of Warning both have two of the three scores required at novice. Definightly and Gaitway both have one score at novice, and Definightly has one score at elementary. In addition to the RoR dressage series, Definightly is aiming for the British Dressage Petplan Area Festival at Aintree in July — he’s going to be busy!
The horses all love hacking out — it’s great for them mentally and physically. We are really lucky to have some beautiful off-road riding straight out of the yard and I particularly love it at this time of year as the trees and hedges are starting to change colour and the blossom is out. There are also plenty of ‘Pokémon monsters’ to be found on our travels, hiding in the most unusual places! There are lots of opportunities to have a bit of a blow out and various undulating tracks adding to the variety and assisting the horses’ fitness. To compliment the hacking, we have some fabulous fun rides coming up, which vary from 10 to 15 miles and will see the horses having the added fun of popping a few fences as well.
At the end of March, I was delighted to be asked to attend the British Horse Society’s national convention at Hartpury College as a guest speaker (me pictured top riding Definightly). It was a pleasure to work alongside David Ingle to present “Racehorse to Your Horse — Finding a Way Forward”. As the popularity of racehorses as recreational riding horses continues to grow, this session focused on how training thoroughbreds can differ from training other horses to ensure positive outcomes.
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The next couple of weeks will see all the horses all having a proper pre-season makeover with manes and tails pulled and trimmed. I will cover different plaits to suit different necks and quarter marks correct for each section in my next blog. The boys will be out competing in further dressage competitions. Gaitway will be heading to his first showing show of the season, and Kings Grey will be testing out his jumping skills. Definightly will be strutting his stuff as a demo horse at a dressage to music gala with Gaynor Colburn.
For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday.