Coral Keen’s eventing blog: First win of the year and a sad sale

  • Last week I headed to Aston-le-Walls with Derby (Wellshead Fare Opposition). Derby is on the World Class Equine Pathway, which selects horses that meet certain criteria for their age so that they can be channeled in the right direction for future success.

    Our first lesson was with Lizzie Murray and I was pleased that she thinks he has come on a lot since she last saw him in spring 2014 saying he is a lot stronger, more submissive and that he’s listening to me more.

    He was slightly inattentive to start with as it was his first time out since Blenheim and there was a lot going on, but Lizzie was good at working with that and she gave me some very helpful exercises to work on.

    Then I had a showjumping lesson with Philip Searle who built a course at about 1.20m. We warmed up over a couple of fences on a turn and then we were asked to jump around the course. It was slightly throwing Derby and myself in at the deep end having not jumped a course all winter and I felt a little rusty myself, but he jumped very well and Philip was pleased.

    He commented on how well Derby is jumping, listening to me and being more responsive which was good to hear after a winter of hard work.

    Cascadelle, my six-year-old, came along too. Phillip really liked her and agreed me with me that she is a very exciting prospect for the future. She’s so athletic with a super jump and she’s also very willing.

    Aston-le-Walls has a superb arena cross-country course and it was nice to have splash in the water, jump some steps and a skinny. Cascadelle hasn’t forgotten a thing and she felt great.

    First win of the year

    The following day I went to BS showjumping at West Wilts with Derby and Whisper. They both jumped in the 1.15m and 1.20m classes.

    Derby had an unlucky pole in the 1.20m and Whisper won the 1.20m — my first win of the year. They are both advanced horses so should be able to jump at that level, but I was still really pleased as it was our first time out.

    The next day I had dressage lessons with Nick Burton on Derby and Whisper. After going so well at Aston-le-Walls and West Wilts, Derby was very inattentive and more worried about what his friend was doing than listening to me.

    He was determined to show Nick that I’d been sat on a sofa all winter and not ridden him at all. He was rude and fresh. It was a real shame, but Nick was very understanding and we worked with what we had. It was useful for Nick to see him like this and for us to work through it.

    Whisper was an angel and worked very well.

    Corinne Bracken came down on Thursday and it was great to see her again. Thankfully, Derby was very good, but of course he was at home so he was in his comfort zone.

    I rode him in a snaffle with no spurs, because I think if I can do this at home I have more chance of being able to control him at a competition. He feels much sharper and more free over a fence and he is using his whole body, which is great.

    On Monday I had dressage lessons with Nick Burton again. I was determined that Derby was going to show Nick all the hard work we have been doing. Thankfully, he was much softer and more through and I was really pleased with him. I also rode Cascadelle and we worked on getting her more supple and responsive.

    I have cross-country schooling penciled in at Boomerang this week and on Friday I have lessons with Yogi Breisner at Nicky Roncoroni’s yard.

    Continued below…

    Read more of Coral’s blogs

    A sad sale

    I am very sad to have sold Whisper (Wiverna). Selling horses is part and parcel of being a professional event rider, but it has hit me very hard that she’s actually gone and I am really struggling with it.

    When she passed the vet I was in shock as I realised this was it and she was actually leaving us.
    We made the decision as she is a very big rangy horse and it is the right thing to do for her future.

    She has gone to the most wonderful home near Lambourn with Alberto Giugni, who I know will treat her in the same kind way I did. He has said I can see her whenever I like and has already sent me lots of pictures of her settling in.

    We bought Whisper from Holland as five-year-old having seen a video of her trotting around a field unbroken and since then I’ve produced her from scratch. It is wonderful to think that she will give Alberto a realistic chance of representing Italy in Rio next year, and that I produced her.

    It is always lovely to spot talented horses and to nurture them so that they can reach their best possible potential, and I hope it leads to more owners sending their horses to me so that I can progress their careers.

    On another note, I was desperately sad to hear that Portuguese eventing rider Francisco Seabra, who represented his country at the World Equestrian Games last year, lost his life at the weekend and my thoughts are with his family.

    Safety is always close to my heart following my serious accident at Boekelo a few years ago, and I’ve just ordered my new Gatehouse hat for the forthcoming season.

    I know it is not always possible for people to do this every year, but I would really recommend that if you’ve dropped your hat or had a heavy fall, do consider replacing it. I’d also say to anyone not to be tempted to chuck your hat in your car, or throw it up on a shelf and to treat it with kid gloves.

    The horses are galloping now so they’ve gone onto concentrated feed so that they don’t lose condition. Their diets all vary, depending on their temperaments and individual needs, but they will all remain on Saracen’s Stam30, and I have been increasing their concentrates.


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