Coral Keen’s eventing blog: an utterly heartbreaking decision

  • This week I thought I would talk through how I like to plan my events, the importance of setting goals and an update of how ‘Team Keen’ are getting on with eventing in 2018 so far.

    I find, like many other event riders, that it is great to map out a competition plan for each of my horses and have some key aims to work towards. This of course can quite often need a fairly flexible approach, as nothing in eventing can ever be set in stone. But I always like to have an overall target to work towards. I find this helps keep me focused and when goals are fulfilled the whole team gets a real boost for all their efforts.

    My main targets will usually consist of a key spring and autumn event. This then allows the horses to have their mid-season break. I will work back from these feature dates planning prep runs and assuring I am qualified. However, I think it is always good to remember that just because you are qualified, it doesn’t mean the horses are automatically ready for the next level. For me this is just the minimum requirement, a guide, but at the end of the day you need to know your horse and we as riders have the ultimate responsibility of making the call to move the horse up a level.

    When planning, I also think through which events will be most suitable — backing the phrase “horses for courses”. I always evaluate different tracks, thinking about whether a twisty course plays to their advantage as they are nimble and will be quicker, or whether they need a more open galloping course. This again is about knowing your horse and making plans around that.

    Team Keen’s main spring competition aim is Renswoude Horse Trials in The Netherlands at the end of May. The plan is to take Total Darkness for the CCI*, Total Belief for the CCI2* and my faithful campaigner Wellshead Fare Opposition for the CIC3*.

    I have been so lucky to get good runs into them all at both Belton and Bicton Internationals. I cannot thank the two teams of event organisers enough, especially with all they did to prepare the ground in such difficult conditions.

    The horses will now head towards their penultimate run at Aston-le-Walls next week and then Rockingham International two weeks before we go.

    I have found that the best routine for me, is to have a quiet week at home before travelling, playing around with a few things at home in training if we need to. I like to feel that we will then arrive in Holland with fresh horses who are ready to go, but that is just what seems to work for us, everyone is different.

    Continued below…

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    It is great that spring aims for many Team Keen horses are coming along nicely. However, as so often is the case in eventing I have also had to deal with a real low.

    My lovely mare Cascadelle has gone wrong due to an old injury, so I have had to come to terms that I will not be eventing her again. My focus for her is to give her the rehab she needs, with perhaps the possibility of selling her to a dressage home if all goes to plan. It is utterly heart-breaking as she is such a talented horse and she absolutely loved her job. I have produced her right from the start, and over the past four years she has climbed easily up the levels and given me multiple wins at CIC* and intermediate level. But sadly I won’t be able to take her any further. This is a situation that us eventers have to deal with, and it is a difficult pill to swallow when you have carefully produced a talented young horse and you are then unable to fulfil their potential. But it is part of the game, you learn to pick yourself up and you have to move forward. That being said, I do now have a bit of a gap in my string and am very much on the look-out for more rides to compete at the higher levels.

    However, Team Keen in the grand scheme of things is on track. I am so grateful for all the owners and support I have in place already, and I am lucky to have a group of horses well on their way to fulfilling some great goals for me.

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