Coral Keen’s eventing blog: first win of the season

  • Just as I put the last plait into Derby’s (Wellshead Fare Opposition) mane on Saturday, we heard that bad weather had caused the abandonment of Gatcombe Horse Trials on Sunday, which was such a shame for all involved.

    Derby was due to run in the advanced intermediate and Zoe the open intermediate and they were looking immaculate having had their show bath — a double shampoo and rinse. But compared to the headache for organisers, that was nothing, and I felt so sorry for them as events take an awful lot of work to run.

    I managed to get a late entry for Somerley Park Horse Trials on Wednesday, so they will both go there to contest the open intermediate along with Lola (Cascadelle), who has her first novice run.

    With Goring Heath also abandoned, Somerley have added an extra day on Friday. They really deserve a huge amount of credit for doing this, as there is so much work involved, and all at very short notice. I really hope they get the support they deserve. It’s testament once again to what a great sport eventing is with everyone really pulling together in these situations to enable us competitors to run our horses.

    An exciting prospect

    Following Lola’s run at Tweseldown, I took her to Aldon Horse Trials, which is always a super event to attend, and very well organised. The going was perfect and Lola did a lovely dressage test, which was reflected in her score of 22, before jumping a beautiful double clear to win a BE100 section. I definitely feel she is ready for the step up to novice this Wednesday.

    Lola has a huge character and when she steps off the lorry she is always very perky. Sometimes she can be the softest, sweetest horse, but if she decides she wants to drag me around she will do just that.

    At this stage, I believe she has the scope and the attitude to go right to the very top. She’s very bright, she loves learning and she always tries her heart out. This was no better illustrated than during a recent lesson with Yogi Breisner, who had us jumping a bending line related distance, including a treble, at a height of approximately 1.25m.

    I thought at the time it seemed quite big, but Lola popped it really well. It wasn’t until after that we worked out that Yogi thought she was actually one of my advanced horses, which was very amusing at the time. I think he was quite taken with her, although you can never really tell how far a horse will go until they start moving up the levels.

    At this stage it would be tempting to push her on as she finds everything so easy, but I am looking at her career in the long term so will continue to take her very steadily.

    Inspirational training

    Unfortunately at Aldon Pluto (Aphrodisiac), who was so pleased to be out at his first competition, studded himself at a simple cross bar in the showjumping warm-up which required veterinary treatment. He’s well on the way to recovery now and I hope to run him soon.

    Derby continues to really please me, and after a very slight steering issue at Tweseldown, he’s back in a loose ring Waterford bit, which appears to be doing the trick. I am really looking forward to running him at Somerley on Wednesday. I have also had a lesson with top young dressage rider Olivia Oakley, who rides my step mother Anne and Dad’s dressage horse Darcy.

    Olivia is just brilliant. She teaches and rides with a maturity far beyond her years. She can jump on the horses so that she can get a feel from them too and I find her input incredibly helpful.

    Last week I had a jumping lesson with Corinne Bracken, who once again inspired me. It doesn’t matter how I feel before a lesson with her but afterwards I feel like I can take on the world. She is such a gifted coach and always fills me with confidence.

    I’ve been doing a lot of teaching myself recently, which is something I really enjoy. At the back of my mind are always Corinne’s inspiring words of wisdom, which I hope help my clients as much as Corinne helps me.

    Bidding farewell

    I was so incredibly sad to lose our old horse Darley last week. I bought him as a schoolmaster when he was 15 after Lucinda Fredericks had successfully competed on him all over Europe including winning Windsor CCI** and finishing 17th at Badminton. I rode him up to advanced and two-star level. We gave him a lovely retirement and he had eight years at grass having lots of love affairs with our broodmares and keeping our homebred youngsters in line and teaching them the ways of life. I hope he died a happy and contented horse at the age of 25.

    Away from the horses, I recently had a spa morning with my mum at Centre Parcs and it was really great to have a little bit of time out. But I then spent the afternoon mowing the grass, which probably wasn’t ideal following an expensive facial as I was soon filthy and dusty again.

    My working pupil Megan Lockyer has now left — we miss her greatly and we wish her well with the next phase of her career. She’s been replaced with a lovely girl called Emily who has brought her own horse and our goal is a BE90 by the end of the season. As we now have two Emilys, we’ve taken to calling them Big Emily and Little Emily, which isn’t going down too well so we need to find another nick name. Any suggestions gratefully received!


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