Hazel Towers’ Burghley first-timer blog: heartbroken doesn’t come close…

  • There’s 23 days until lift off (the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials) and things aren’t entirely going to plan. This is mainly because Stumpy (Simply Smart) came in from the field with a bit of heat and swelling in a fore leg at the weekend. On further inspection she has a very slight injury which requires a bit of rest and certainly no jumping around big cross-country tracks! Heartbroken doesn’t come close to it, but I have been very lucky so far with her — in the seven years we have competed together she’s never been off sick or lame. She’s a ‘reet good cob!’ — super hardy and always up for anything. She loves a big party and I’d have put money on her jumping clear in the showjumping at Burghley, assuming I managed to get her over Cottesmore Leap ditch, which would have been our bogey fence!

    After much consideration we have decided that for now she can do what she loves best, and that is to stand and eat, to help prevent the risk of aggravating anything and putting strain on her. The plan now is to aim for Badminton next year, which thankfully she is already qualified for. Eventing horses is a roller coaster ride of emotions at times, but it’s the thrills that keep us going.

    So I’m down to only one pony for Burghley now, who is currently wrapped in cotton wool… I’m terrified every day she might do something to damage herself in the field, in the stable or while been ridden. It’s forcing me to drink more than normal. Blooming horses, good job I had two!

    Clover’s (Simply Clover, pictured top at a dressage lesson with my trainer Tori Peters) been on the water treadmill twice now and there was a marked improvement the second time. I’ve always struggled with top line and holding any weight on this mare, and I am hoping this is the key to getting her stronger. We have also been to the gallops where we were really impressed by the facilities at Ann Duffield’s racing yard — both the gallops and the treadmill. Ann’s all-weather gallops have a good steady incline, so it’s really good for improving fitness levels. My hilly fields are still too hard now after this baking heat,so two days a week are spent driving to Leyburn and doing that instead. I think one of the reasons the trip seems so long is because our lorry radio is old and rubbish and listening to crackly local radio for more than an hour, well let me tell you, it sends you slightly insane.

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    I have quite a busy weekend ahead taking five of the young horses out to a local BE (British Eventing) event at Skipton. We have first-timers, first 100s and first novices running. I have packed my parachute and Velcro jodhpurs and have lots of spare stirrup leathers for neck straps in the wagon. The results of the day are down to fate I guess and a lot of kicking!

    Clover and I

    I have an intermediate run at Aston-le-Walls next Thursday with Clover. I just want to have a steady school round as she hasn’t been cross-country since Bramham. I don’t see the point in over-jumping/schooling them at this level unless you have an issue — they know their jobs, so keep it fun.

    I received an email about entries for Burghley yesterday which makes it all a bit more real: “Dear Hazel, Thank you for your Burghley CCI4*” delete… oh no wait, that’s not spam!


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