Coral Keen’s eventing blog: from fluffy babies to national success

  • A huge part of why I love eventing is the journey you go on when producing a young horse. A big goal for Total Equestrian Construction’s Quintessential III and Midnight Chill, owned by Clare White, was the Young Horse Championships at Osberton last week.

    As I have talked about in previous blogs, having a realistic aim for you and your horse is a good way to see your progression throughout the season, and a good result at Osberton was the aim for both these two.

    Quintessential III (Chilli) is a lovely five-year-old bay mare. We bought her from Candice Williams, who we also purchased Cascadelle from, and they are both out of Escarda. Before we broke Chilli, I thought she might be quite a sharp from watching her in the field, but she was actually really good. She is an intelligent type of horse so thrives off work and has such a great attitude. As shown in the video below, she has come a long way since being a just backed, very fluffy four-year-old.

    2018 has been Chilli’s first season of eventing and she has taken to it like a duck to water. Being a nice compact girl, she has got her head round the concept of competing very quickly and is a natural in all three phases (we won’t talk about her slightly impatient antics on the ground — young ones always have something that needs more work!).

    I have been thrilled with her progression this year, even before Osberton. Her main aim was to qualify for the five-year-old championships, which she did back in July at Tweseldown. Since then, she has jumped seven double clears on the trot and had six top 10 placings including her first BE (British Eventing) win at Firle. So I went into the championships hopeful of a good performance, as with the form she has had, I knew she was capable and prepared.

    Backing a baby Chilli

    It was one of those events where everything just went to plan. Chilli’s dressage test was really nice — she stayed with me, was relaxed in the atmosphere and gave me a lovely feel to score 31.1.

    The marks were so tight after the dressage, that the jumping was going to be crucial. Luckily, this mare loves the next two phases and has a real conscience, so performed an immaculate and easy clear round showjumping. It was all to play for heading out into the cross-country and again she answered every question. There was a jump in the water, which was a fair question — she took notice of it going in, but the moment I put my leg on, she was straight and willing. We came home clear and inside the time to finish on our dressage score for seventh place.

    Chilli in the prize-giving

    I couldn’t have asked for more, she really has achieved every aim this year easily. I really hope we can be back at Osberton in 2019 for the six-year-old championship and I am already looking forward to next season with her. I will have to keep reminding myself to not ask too much though. Being so talented and straightforward, it could be easy to get carried away with her, but when you are thinking of the big picture and producing young horses it is so important to not get greedy. But still, it’s so exciting. With this in mind, our plan now is to syndicate Chilli. With the way she has performed this year, I really think she has everything it takes to go all the way and I would love to get some owners involved in her journey. If this is of interest to anyone, Team Keen would love to hear from you.

    Midnight Chill (another Chilly!) is another super young horse. His owner Clare White bought him in August last year from Shane Walsh as a just broken five-year-old, who had been ridden away lightly. I have been producing him for Clare this season and he is such a lovely laid-back character. Like all young horses, he can have the odd sassy moment, but it is completely harmless, and he is a sweet horse.

    We headed to the six-year-old championships with some really consistent novice form from him and a fantastic double clear at his first CIC* at Gatcombe. He has a good brain and you can always rely on him to give it his all.

    We were pleased with his first phase performance at Osberton. He is still getting to grips with the dressage, so his score of 36.9 for where he is at, was fair. Moving onto the showjumping and he really pulled it out the bag to do another great clear round. However, the final cross-country phase was probably the absolute highlight of our season together. He made nothing of the track giving me a phenomenal ride and cruised home 15 seconds inside the time. It was one of those rounds where we felt totally in sync and he was so easy and willing to ride. Again, he finished on his dressage score and I was thrilled with his performance. It was a great finish for his 2018 season.

    The overall plan has always been for me to produce Chilly for Clare to take on the ride, which hopefully I have managed to do this year and I feel I have got him to the point where he knows his job. I can’t wait to support and watch them out competing next year.

    Chilly at Osberton

    Continued below…

    Coming home from Osberton, I felt a real sense of achievement for both of these horses and really proud of all their efforts this year. The whole of Team Keen puts huge amounts of work in to produce these horses and when good results come off it, is great for everyone involved to see them reach their goals for the season. It’s safe to say we are all excited about where next season will take us!


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