Coral Keen’s eventing blog: shoot the rider!

  • For the first time in 15 years of eventing I somehow missed out a fence on the cross-country course at Portman Horse Trials. Shoot the rider!

    My excuse was that I was walking the course with four pupils jumping three different tracks, as well as walking two courses myself. As I merrily cantered through the water jump with Ted (Total Darkness), it crossed my mind that it seemed very easy. On we went having a lovely time, unbeknown to me that I’d missed out the last part of the combination at the water. Ted jumped a beautiful clear, minus one fence, and we were eliminated.

    It was a lesson learned and every now and again it’s good to have a little shake up like that. Ted had spooked his way through the dressage anyway, so I wasn’t going to win that day.

    April (Total Belief) did a nice test, and was in the process of jumping a beautiful showjumping round until a sponsors’ marquee erupted with applause, which distracted her and she had a pole down. I still haven’t found out why they were cheering and it caused the next rider no end of problems, until someone realised putting the cheering masses next to a showjumping ring wasn’t the brightest idea in the world! My pupils all went really well so it was a good day all round.

    The “Willberry does Badminton” charity evening was great fun and they raised a lot of money. There was a hog roast and drinks and there was a panel of riders including Jonty Evans, Sir Mark Todd and Tim Price who are all going to Badminton. Eric Winter (Badminton’s cross-country course designer) talked about the course too. There were some great prizes that people had donated for the auction. It was great to be there supporting Hannah’s legacy.

    Ascott-Under-Wychwood Horse Trials was next and wow, what an incredible event. It was fabulous with beautiful fences that were all well dressed. It was almost like a mini Badminton. Ted jumped really well there over a fantastic educational track.

    Last weekend we went to Bicton Arena Horse Trials where Jake (Highmead Proposition) did a lovely test in the intermediate. He’s really established at this level and scored 27.3. He had an unlucky rail showjumping (see below), and twisted a shoe coming down the hill so I decided to pull up and save him for another day.

    April also did a lovely test, producing exactly the same score. She jumped double clear, with a couple of time penalties to finish second in the open novice.

    Ted went on the Sunday for the BE100 and he did a nice test, jumped a double clear, with some time faults across country to finish seventh in the BE100. He’s starting to feel like he’s growing up (see video below) and gaining confidence and I was able to ride him in more of a rhythm cross-country without him spooking (too much!). They do a stunning job at Bicton with well-made courses that are beautifully presented and the ground was excellent too, given this long dry spell we’ve had.

    It was spa day for the horses last Tuesday. They had their feet done and Wendy Vaughan, our equine therapist, gave them all a massage.

    Katherine Coleman who is riding at her first Badminton this year has sent me a very smart five-year-old known as Splash (see video below) to produce on her behalf. He was bought from Karen O’Connor in the States and he’s a really lovely horse. I’m looking forward to producing him.

    My two young home-breds, Chilli and Leo, are coming on really well. I absolutely love producing the babies, especially when they have such wonderful attitudes.

    They jumped for the third time the other day and they took it all in their strides. They are so generous and trusting and I get such a buzz from producing young horses.

    Continued below…

    Leo is by Wish Upon A Star, who is also the sire of Ted, and Chilly is a half sister to Cascadelle and they are so similar. They’re both very bright and inquisitive.

    Breaking and producing youngsters is something that gives me such a buzz, and when you have two gorgeous horses like Chilly and Leo, it makes the whole job so pleasurable.

    You may like...