Coral Keen’s eventing blog: I am to be auctioned off as a slave

  • Dauntsey Park Horse Trials last Wednesday (22 July) was another great day with April, Lola and Jake all jumping double clears in their sections and finishing with top ten placings.

    The horses have been on super form and I’m thrilled with them all.

    I’m so happy with April (Total Belief) who won her five-year-old section at Bicton Horse Trials and has qualified for the five-year-old championships at Osberton in October which was the aim for this year. I can take the pressure off her a bit now.

    She’s so special as she’s a homebred and when she was born she was so big she was what’s known as wind swept – her legs were so long she couldn’t stand up for several days and we had to bottle feed her until she had the strength to stand. With corrective foot work we managed to sort out her limbs and looking at her now you’d never believe that she went through all of that.

    April is so trainable and every time I ride her she’s such a pleasure. She’s like a sponge; soaking up everything I teach her and really tries all the time.

    Lola (Cascadelle) went to the novice regional finals at Purston Manor Horse Trials in Northamptonshire where she was third. It was a very strong section but she was great and I had the best ride yet on her cross-country. She feels very comfortable around novice tracks now jumping everything out of her stride. She’s turning into a real superstar.

    She’s qualified for the novice championships at Gatcombe’s Festival of British Eventing, but in order to go there she would have to complete an intermediate course between Purston Manor and the Festival. I’m not concerned about her jumping an intermediate track just yet. I think so much of her and she’s still a very young horse that I feel it is too punishing on her body at this stage. We’ve decided she will do some CIC*s to gain experience before Osberton three-day in October.

    Jake (Highmead Proposition) won at Purston Manor. That day was a bit of a haze for me as I had an ear and throat infection and I wasn’t really with it, but he was great. On his last two or three runs I’ve felt I can really leave him alone cross-country and he can go and jump confidently of his own accord.

    Derby (Wellshead Fare Opposition) has had three weeks off and feels very perky. I had a little jump on him for the first time on Monday and he felt great. I am really looking forward to the autumn with him and we’re aiming for Hartpury CIC3* and then Burghley.

    Aphrodisiac is feeling great after his hip injury in the spring. He’s had two months in the field playing with the youngsters and has come back into full work gradually. I am really excited to be riding him again and hopefully he will come out towards the end of the season.

    Away from competition

    Ted, our four-year-old whom I think a lot of, is very spooky but we are making slow progress. Yesterday he did some pole work and jumps, which was another big step in the right direction. There’s no pressure and he’ll take as long as he takes.

    We’ve had our second foal of the year by the dressage stallion Fursternball. We’ve called her Fleur and its lovely to see her playing with our other foal Millie who each day reminds me more and more of Lola. She’s so cheeky and bold but she’s now leading happily on a headcollar.

    There have been a few nights out and social gatherings including the Ledbury Hunt’s Fox Rocks party where we had a great night. We also had a big leaving do for my head girl Emily Kelly who has now gone to Australia after working for me for three years. She’s been so great and it was sad to see her go, but its great hearing about all her adventures in Australia.

    A fantastic cause

    I am so pleased to be supporting the Eventing Family’s party on 22 August at Bicton Arena, where I am being offered as a slave! Eventing is such a special sport where everyone comes together and people really look out for each other. This family feel keeps you going through the cold winter months and when things get tough. I’m also offering a day on the yard where someone can bring their horse and have some lessons or a course walk.

    I recently had a fascinating day with my sponsors Saracen Horse Feeds who took us to Horseracing Forensic Laboratories in Newmarket. It was interesting to learn how easy it is to contaminate horse feed – even if you accidentally have chocolate on your fingers from a biscuit or something you happen to be eating when you’re doing up the feeds, you can contaminate food.

    The laboratories are so interesting and the detail they go into is similar to trying to find half a teaspoon of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool – that’s the level of investigation they have to go to. It gave us all real food for thought.


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