Coral Keen’s eventing blog: All systems go

  • Derby (Wellshead Fare Opposition) and Lola (Cascadelle) were both at Aston-le-Walls yesterday (27 January) for Equine Pathway training with Philip Surl and Lizzie Murray. With such fantastic facilities at Aston, I filled the lorry up and took another three horses to make good use of them.

    Lola was feeling quite feisty at first as she was so glad to be out, but she soon settled into her work. Derby behaved impeccably. I’m daring to believe that he’s growing up a bit!

    The jumping session included some athletic work down some grids and courses and they were both really good. The great thing about being at Aston is that there are cross-country fences on an all-weather arena too and once they’ve had a jump I could get their feet wet in the water and jump a couple of ditches and skinnies to remind them about cross-country.

    April (Total Belief), Jake (Highmead Proposition) and Ted (Total Darkness) all came along too.

    Jake jumped really well over an intermediate track. He has such a good jumper and is very polite and easy to ride. April was also very good, she is jumping a bit bigger now she’s older and stronger. I made a promise to myself that I would take Ted anywhere I am going on the lorry, so he’s coming everywhere with me as he needs to go out and see the big wide world. He jumped some logs and a little corner and I was really pleased with how he went as he stayed soft and in a good rhythm. He was actually quite brave and I think I am making progress with him.

    We’ve had a busy week as on Monday I took a lorry load to West Wilts Equestrian Centre for some clear round jumping. It’s not a competition so you can use it as a schooling exercise away from home. I took the two newly broken mares Roxy and Vodka who took it all in their stride. It’s great for them to get used the whole experience from being tacked up and washed off by the lorry, as well as going into the ring and actually jumping. They both jumped well around 85cm and Ted jumped a lovely clear at a metre. He was sharp and spooky but I think he always will be. April and Jake also had an outing. April hadn’t been anywhere since Osberton last year so she was quite full of herself until she realised it was only clear round jumping!

    I have Lola’s half brother in for breaking which is really nice. He’s a chestnut and a bit chunkier than Lola. He’s been here for about two weeks and my mum, Crystel, has been helping on the ground. She’s very good at lunging and long-reining, and when you’re breaking horses in it’s always good to have someone with a lot of experience on the ground.

    Corinne Bracken taught here last week and it turned out to be a very busy day with a lot of horses to jump plus people coming here for their lessons. It was really lovely to see Helen West, Bicton Arena’s manager, who came along for the first time with her lovely horse Eebay. I really enjoy watching other riders have their lessons as you can learn so much.

    Whenever Corinne comes it’s always such a good day. I’d be lost without her. She was pleased with the way all the horses are going and we both feel Derby’s much further on than he was last year, which is good. I had another day with Corinne earlier in the month and we went through each horse, assessing them and the work they needed before the start of the season.

    Flat work lessons with Nick Burton have also been on the agenda. He’s happy with Derby and Lola although there’s a lot to work on — as always!

    I have 12 horses to work a day at the moment and it’s pretty much flat out but I am really excited about the way they’re all going. Every day is a bit of a mission to get through it but it’s all really enjoyable.

    I’ve done my plans for the first half of the season and we’ll start at Tweseldown with Derby, Lola and April then go to Aldon, Portman and Larkhill

    Derby will also be going to Fontainebleau for the CIC3*. I’d like to get an early big run in to take the pressure off in the lead up to Badminton. He’ll then go to Belton before we go to Badminton.

    The aim for April is to build a concrete foundation at the lower levels and then to get some mileage starting in BE100s, progressing to a novice, before dropping back to BE100 and then aim for a CIC* at the end of the season.

    Lola will run in novices until she does a CCI* at Houghton Hall. She’ll then have a break. I will take my time with her because she is so talented and has a huge future ahead of her. Ted might well start at Portman or Larkhill but I’ll make sure he runs on good ground before we go anywhere.


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