Coral Keen’s eventing blog: is less more?

  • I’m really excited about Luhmuhlen in June following Derby’s (Wellshead Fare Opposition) terrific result at Withington Manor at the weekend where he was second in a competitive advanced section.

    The whole day had quite a surreal feel to it as late times meant we didn’t leave until 11am with my dressage test at 3.40pm. With that long to wait it’s quite hard to keep your focus and adrenalin levels up, but Derby warmed up really well and did a super test.

    At Belton I rode him in a snaffle, but in a bigger atmosphere he needs a double bridle and he was much better. He made just one mistake, when he struck into canter after the rein back rather than trot, but even so everything else was very good and I was pleased with his score of 30 which equates to 70%.

    I had a little while to wait before the showjumping and before we went in the heavens opened. It poured down, but he did a nice clear over an up-to-height track.

    In the cross-country he was just fab. I didn’t set off like the clappers and just wanted to have a good positive ride around with control and accuracy at the tricky fences. He really listened to me, responding when I needed him to, which saved a lot on time. When we got back he felt great with plenty of running left.

    Withington is a really lovely track although it can seem a little daunting as its big and bold. But if you ride a track like that really positively you can reap the benefits, as the horse will gain more confidence the further it goes. Derby absolutely loved it and had his ears pricked all the way around. It was so good to feel that I have control.

    Lola (Cascadelle, pictured below at home) picked up another novice win at Bicton Arena where she did a beautiful test, even though she felt very fresh in the warm up. She was great showjumping and just a little bit green cross-country, so I had to ride her really positively to give her confidence and she finished within the time easily. She felt super and was very good on her lines.

    Coral Keen at home with Lola

    After such an intense start to the season she’s had a bit of a break to freshen her up and now goes to Aston-Le-Walls where I plan to run her slowly to make sure all the basics are firmly established.

    April (Total Belief) did her second BE100 and showjumped really well. However, she felt much greener cross-country, which was interesting. Although she was asking questions, she responded really positively when I gave her the confidence she needed.

    Jake (Highmead Proposition) also went really well. Cross-country is his weak phase at this early stage, but he is starting to understand what I am asking for. He’s been to Boomerang cross-country schooling since Bicton and he’ll go to Moreton Morell with April later this week.

    Continued below…

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    Less is more?

    With the horses continuing to post some really great results I’m wondering if this might be because I don’t have as many horses to ride this year so the pressure has reduced to a degree.

    Having sold a few, I now have just six or so to ride a day. It’s making me feel a bit like a part-timer, but it also means that I am able to focus on them more, which seems to be reaping the rewards. Not having as many horses also has its downside, particularly regarding my fitness so I’ve had to really ramp that up with more running and swimming.

    I think I’ve probably mentioned Corinne Bracken in every column I’ve written, but she really has turned around my eventing career. Showjumping is the bane of every event rider’s life, but she’s changed my view completely of this discipline.

    Before I had lessons with Corinne I really dreaded showjumping, but I absolutely love it now and it’s all thanks to her. She’s a very gifted teacher. Olivia Oakeley and Nick Burton have also been fantastic with my dressage training — they really compliment each other.

    Apart from riding, competing and teaching, I also had time to go to the Willton Whiplash Party with my head girl Emily, which was a really great night out, although we both opted to ignore the Surf and Turf theme. It was pouring down with rain and neither of us fancied wearing our bikinis with Wellington boots!


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