Coral Keen’s eventing blog: personal landmarks and exciting youngsters

  • I’ve recently stepped up my seven-year-old home-bred April (Total Belief) to intermediate level and she’s made the transition really well. It’s always a bit of a concern whether you are stepping them up at the right time, but she’d had plenty of experience at novice and intermediate novice and with hindsight, giving her a little longer has really paid off.

    At Aston-Le–Walls, her first run at intermediate, I was over the moon with how she felt. She did a 29 dressage and then a lovely double clear to finish fourth. I couldn’t have asked any more of her.

    Two weeks later she ran at our local event, Wilton, which is quite undulating with lots of hills and one big drop that everyone always worries about!

    She again amazed us with a 23 dressage and a double clear. She jumped her socks off around a tough enough track with plenty questions. I didn’t go particularly quickly but we had a good rhythm and we finished fourth again.

    She’s really changed in the last two months and feels like an established horse rather than a gangly baby. She’s a big mare who has taken time to develop but she’s so much stronger now and feels much lighter and more athletic because she’s been given the time to strengthen up. The extra work required to compete at intermediate level has also helped.

    Ted (Total Darkness) has also stepped up a level to run at novice. He was great at Treborough and Aston-Le-Walls where he had an unlucky pole, and he was good at Wilton too. He’s still a spooky horse, but he’s definitely ready. I’m aiming him for the six-year-old championships at Osberton with April’s aim the seven-year-old championships. I think he’ll always spook, but so far he’s doing everything right.

    Handpainted (Splash) has been running well too. He’s done a couple of 90s and at Wilton he ran in his first 100 where he did a good test and jumped double clear. He’s getting better and better each time out and feeling more confident. He’ll go to West Wilts for the five-year-old class and we’re hoping he’ll qualify for the five-year-old championships.

    Lola (Cascadelle) is now up to 20 minutes of trotting a day and is scanning really well after picking up her injury at the beginning of the season. She could come back at the end of the season but I think I will put the money into training and come out all guns blazing next year.

    Derby (Wellshead Fare Opposition) is coming along quite well and is consistently sound now after his foot injury at Luhmuhlen last year. He’s walking and building up his trot work. My farrier and vet have been amazing and even if he doesn’t come back to top level eventing I know that we’ve done the very best by him and will continue to do so.

    The babies are all really great. Chilly, Lola’s half sister, is coming on really well and is pretty much jumping a course of little jumps. She’s loading on and off the lorry. She’s always quite happy to go on, but then decides she doesn’t want to come off!

    In the next couple of weeks I’ll take her and Leo, April’s baby, somewhere off site. Leo has the loveliest face and is the type of horse you just want to go up and cuddle. He’s really genuine. He’s that bit bigger than Chilly so he’s having a little bit longer. He’s not quite ready to jump a course yet as I want to spent a bit of time getting him stronger. He’ll go out on the lorry so that he gets used to travelling. It’s always really exciting to get them out and get going.

    Continued below…

    Aside from competing and bringing on the young horses, I’m really enjoying taking my coaching exams and am mid through UKCC Level 2. It’s been really enjoyable and gives you different ideas and makes you look at things in different ways. The coaching has been great this summer with plenty of students out competing. It’s great to be at the events with them and going on that journey.

    I also hit a personal landmark recently and celebrated my 30th birthday. We’ve been having a great time with friends and celebrations included heading Cirencester to watch some polo. By fluke Prince William and Prince Harry were playing. It was a great day!

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