Coral Keen’s eventing blog: We’re at full tilt

  • Christmas was so quiet with just one horse in work but now we’re at full tilt with a full yard and training in full swing for the season ahead.

    After eating plenty of chocolate over Christmas I’ve started my own preparation by thinking about my diet. I’ve started pilates again and have upped my fitness. Despite riding several horses a day, I don’t think this gives you such a complete level of fitness as adding in other elements too.

    The horses are out working on the hills, building up good muscle tone before I start schooling them. Last week we started some pole work and a bit of jumping — it was great getting them off the ground again and there were plenty of bucks! The horses really enjoyed themselves.

    In early December I had a couple of lessons with Richard Waygood. It was really interesting and nice to have a fresh pair of eyes looking at the way we work.

    I am having some more lessons with him later today. Richard very similar in his approach to Corinne Bracken and they both work very closely together. You can never stop learning and fresh opinions are really great. I am so ready to get back into it!

    Tomorrow I am having a dressage lesson on Total Darkness (Ted) with Gareth Hughes who rides my dad and step mother’s horse Don Carissimo. Darcy, as he’s known at home, has just finished his Christmas holiday and we’ll take him back with us. He went to Holland to compete in December and won the grand prix special which was fantastic as he is new to that level. It was a major result.

    I actually had a little sit on him on Saturday, which was the first time I have sat on a grand prix horse. I competed him as a young horse, but haven’t ridden him much since, and it was amazing to feel strong he is.

    Anyone who has the impression that a grand prix horse must feel like silk, has it completely wrong. My arms were aching as they are so strong as powerful! You imagine that they are as light as a feather in your hand and are very smooth, but this couldn’t be further from the truth and actually the connection you have with them down the rein can be quite strong. There is a lot of power and energy in these horses and I can understand why top dressage riders sometimes say they feel like they have had a workout in the gym after riding them.

    It was great to have the opportunity to have a play on him before he goes back to Gareth to resume training for the season ahead.

    Continued below…

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    Ted has been in work all winter so it will be good to have a lesson. He’s been hacking out on his own to try and make him a bit more brave, and he’s getting there! He’s been jumping more regularly so that it becomes less scary and more of an every day task. He has loads of scope and plenty of talent and he’s so careful, he just needs to almost get bored of jumping and settle.

    Lola (Cascadelle) had a little jump for the first time on Saturday and she was really excited about it. She had six weeks off and she’s been ready and raring to go since the first day of her holiday! But a break is good for both the brain and the body and she’s come back stronger. I’d like her to do a CIC3* in the autumn if all goes to plan.


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