I’m writing this from the Osberton young horse championships where Total Belief (April, pictured above at home) runs in the CIC2*, which is the seven-year-old class. It’s great to have her here, especially as she is a homebred and I’ve produced her from scratch.
It’s a super venue with a great atmosphere — it feels almost like you’re breaking up from school with the season almost over.
April is a huge horse and at one stage I did question whether she’d make it onto the bigger stage. She’s never put a foot wrong, and progressed impressively through the lower ranks, but I wondered at the end of last season whether she really had that star quality about her that sets horses apart, where they are quick thinking, athletic and honest.
Competing at intermediate level and above requires a different level of fitness, and April has relished it. She’s also a year older, and with hindsight, I’m really pleased I haven’t rushed her as the time has allowed her to develop and mature. She feels absolutely superb across country. She’s quick thinking, athletic, and also half thoroughbred which means galloping comes very easily to her.
She’s had 10 runs this season, going clear across country each time, with double clears in four of her four intermediate outings, and she’s given me the best feeling. I haven’t pushed her, but she establishes such a great rhythm. The offset of this is that while she will always be a lovely horse to handle at home, she has become a bit of a diva at events. I think she knows she is special.
Total Darkness (Ted) has come along to Osberton too for the experience which will do him the world of good. He’s such a spooky horse still — if I move flower pot a centimetre he notices — but this sharpness and alertness will stand him in good stead for the future.
We did think he’d qualified for the one-star having gone clear at his five novice runs, but we found out at the last minute that he’s not eligible to run. He’ll re route to Aldon while April will sign off for the season after Osberton.
At home Wellshead Fare Opposition (Derby) continues to progress well following his injury. It’s early days yet as to whether he’ll come back competing, but we’re going in the right direction.
Cascadelle (Lola) is in full work, bar actually jumping and galloping, following her injury, and she’ll spend the winter competing at dressage shows which I am sure she’ll love before we come out all guns blazing for next season.
This winter looks set to be a busy one as I have a few new rides which is fantastic. Producing young horses, or those that might need a change of scenery or those that have lost their form, is something I really love. We’ll get them out showjumping and dressaging ready for the 2018 season!
I’ve also got another two home-breds, Leo and Chilli, to start competing. They are both four-year-olds and I adore them. They are so willing and easy. Competing them will be such a pleasure. I plan to start them with some hunter trials when the other horses have their holidays.
I am really pleased to have passed by UKCC Level 2 assessment in eventing and enjoyed it so much I’ll go straight on to Level 3. Teaching is a great way to give something back to the sport and it gives me such a buzz to see them go out and compete too.