Coral Keen’s eventing blog: A break to Dubai and winter training plans

  • I’ve come to Dubai for a few days to meet my friend Belinda Gatland (nee Cullen), an equine physio who worked with the Hong Kong team at London 2012 and is now based at Dubai Stables.

    Belinda kept her horse with me for about a year when I helped her with her para dressage and we become great friends. Visiting her in Dubai has become an annual treat.

    I booked my flight last Wednesday morning and came out that evening so it was very last minute. I’ll be here for seven days in all, which is lovely, broken up with a day’s teaching at the equestrian centre which is based at Dubai racecourse.

    Then on Saturday it will be full steam ahead back at home with a possible hunter trial on the agenda with April on Sunday.

    Winter training

    I have a lot of training I want to do with Nick Burton, Corinne Bracken and Yogi Breisner so the advanced horses will be back in work too.

    It won’t be as intensive and if the weather is bad, or one of the girls is sick, there’s leeway for a day off but I want to spend the winter getting them where I want them, ready for next season.

    The girls are all due a good break too so that they can recharge their batteries. Meg will have a week off in October and December and Emily will have three weeks off in November.

    I have a couple of horses to sell and once I’ve sold one I’ll have a box free and I will start doing some bits and pieces with Ted who is rising four.

    I will also be on the hunt for some new rides to join the yard. I have some super young horses coming through, but there’s a gap in the middle, so I may be doing a bit of networking. This is quite new to me, but I feel really confident now that I could do some new owners’ horses justice.

    September was incredibly busy and after a month on the road I really enjoyed a week at home helping the girls on the yard and riding the young horses as well as doing a fair bit of teaching and catching up with clients.

    Five-year-old championships

    Then I headed up to Osberton with Cascadelle for the five-year-old championships and ended up getting there later than I planned which wasn’t ideal as she’d never had a sleep over before. But she settled into her stable, albeit in the dark and the next morning dragged me around.

    She was brilliant and didn’t put a foot wrong. I am so proud of her as there was a lot to look at and it was a huge learning curve. I would definitely repeat this again with another youngster.

    She was very good in the dressage where she scored 32, she showjumped superbly on the Friday morning, jumping a very easy round around the novice height track. Across country we cruised around in a nice rhythm and she found it all very easy and took it in her stride.

    I found it really exciting that I have a star for the future. She really listens across country, but she’s bold and clever and she finished well inside the time.

    We finished 15th and I couldn’t have asked any more of her.

    We got back late on Friday evening and she was really glad to be home, dragging me off the lorry and going straight to her stable to tuck into some food.

    On Sunday I took Ashbury Willow for her last run of the season at Dauntsey Park for the BE100. She was super and did a really sweet test and then jumped a very good double clear to finish fourth.

    Every time I ride her across country I come back with a big smile on my face. She’s very natural and it was a lovely way to finish the season.

    Bio security

    Last Monday Endells Equine Hospital held a talk on bio security in your yard which I thought would be quite useful to go to. It was a really informative and interesting evening.

    It reminded me that taking horse’s temperatures is something we should be doing at least once a week and always a the same time of day so that we know what is normal for that horse. We’ll now have temperature Tuesday and potentially another day in the week too.

    Most of the horses are off now, but they are in at night. I don’t believe in just chucking them out at the end of the season.

    I think horses thrive in a routine so we try to keep much the same while also allowing them time to be horses and relax, without being fiddled with too much.

    They’ll be trickling back in now, so we’ll be busy over the next few months, but without the pressure!


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