Coral Keen’s eventing blog: All systems go

  • Next Monday we’re leaving for Luhmuhlen so it’s all systems go, putting the final preparations in place for Derby (Wellshead Fare Opposition) and getting my other horses out and about before I go away for eight days.

    Derby cantered really well at Conkwell Grange on Sunday where the National Hunt trainer Neil Mullholland is based. He’s such a great guy to deal with and always so helpful. Derby will have one more gallop before I leave for Germany, and then have eight or nine days without any fast work so that he’s firing on all cylinders before he runs cross-country.

    I had a super dressage lesson yesterday (Monday) with Nick Burton when we ran through some specific movements for my test. He felt super and was on great form.

    Today (Tuesday) I’ll showjump six horses at Summerhouse. As much as my focus is on Derby, my other horses still need to be out competing and it’s not all about him, although he would love it to be!

    We’re off yo West Wilts tomorrow for a dressage competition where I will run through the Luhmuhlen test on Derby. It’s really beneficial as I can use it as a training exercise and make corrections if I need to without worrying about losing marks. Lola (Cascadelle) will also go. She’s working really well at the moment but running through a test won’t do her any harm.

    This weekend coming I’ll have some showjumping training with Corinne Bracken, probably away from home. When the horses are at home they tend to be more confident and relaxed in the familiar environment. It’s good to jump away from home as it’s more of a competition-type scenario.

    On Sunday, April (Total Belief) will run in the novice at West Wilts and then it will be an early night before heading off to Luhmuhlen on Monday. I will plan to stable somewhere in Belgium on Monday night as it will break up the 17 hour journey and help make sure Derby’s not too tired or has muscle fatigue. We use Pedens Horse Transport who help with travel logistics and for me it’s like having a security blanket as I know they are at the end of the phone if I need help.

    Houghton International Horse Trials, where Derby and I were asked to be part of the British Nations Cup team for the third leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing on the home leg, was great. I headed up there with my dog Phoebe and Derby. Just the three of us went, and it was a long way to go, but I really enjoyed it. There was no phone signal or wifi and that was fantastic as I was able to give Derby my undivided attention and focus on him.

    Prior to my dressage I changed my working-in regime and I was really pleased with our test. It wasn’t the best test we can do, but it has really sharpened us up ahead of Luhmuhlen. He was awesome showjumping. The time was incredibly tight and it caused a lot of trouble as it was making us ride that bit faster which resulted in mistakes so I was absolutely thrilled with him when he jumped a good clear.

    Cross-country he was super. He is a horse that reacts to atmosphere and he came out the start box like a rocket so I had to put the handbrake on — he was on a mission and I wasn’t getting the reaction I needed. I will use the same bit at Luhmuhlen, but tighten the strap a bit. It was frustrating not to complete in the time but I was really pleased with the way he went and the team came fourth, which was great.

    The next morning I left at 5am to go to Pontispool. Lola did the intermediate novice where she did a beautiful test. She’s getting better at keeping a lid on her excitement at a event and settled very well. After a lovely double clear she was placed third and is ready to go intermediate now.

    Continued below…

    Read more from Coral Keen:

    Jake (Highmead Proposition) went really well in the intermediate but it was frustrating that he had two down again showjumping. It’s a shame as he’s one of my best jumpers but his confidence is growing and we’ll get there. He was absolutely brilliant across country and I’d have no qualms jumping round an advanced on him, we just need to make sure he’s super confident showjumping first. He’ll jump 1.35m to 1.40m at home very happily but at a competition he’s genuinely worried but as I said, we’ll get there.

    April ran in the novice and wasn’t quite herself across country I am hoping it’s a one off blip as until now she’s been superb.

    So fingers crossed for a good result at Luhmuhlen. I feel prepared and ready for it. Hopefully we’ll have good news in my next blog.


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