I can’t quite believe what I have packed into the last two weeks. A fortnight ago, Penny and I took a trip to Buckingham Palace for the Prince Of Wales’ 70th Birthday patronage celebration. Prince Charles is a patron of the Australian Stock Horse Society, so we were invited to attend along with the society’s chairman, Craig Young, and his wife, Jenelle, who had flown over from Australia for the event.
It was a wonderful day. The sun shone while we listened to various bands, ate an amazing tea and strolled through the grounds of the beautiful gardens, which were made all the more stunning because they exist in the middle of London. Prince Harry, with his new bride by his side, made a funny and moving speech about his father, detailing how much work he does for charities, and how he champions small societies involved with the environment, farming and nature.
Two days later, we headed back to London, although this time it was to the far less attractive surroundings of the cargo area of Heathrow Terminal 4, for the much-awaited arrival of Haydon Oracle. Oracle is a two-year-old Australian Stock Horse (ASH) colt, who we believe will be the first registered ASH colt to stand in the UK. Along with the Bristow family, who are our partners in the venture, and Craig and Jenelle, we waited with great excitement as the horses were unloaded. We couldn’t believe how calmly he stepped off the crate, and our first thoughts were, “What a stunner!” We couldn’t be more pleased with his type and temperament and the IRT grooms described him as “the perfect gentleman”. He comes from generations of top performing horses, so I can’t wait to get a feel of him, but for now he is having a well earned few weeks rest in the field with his new buddy, Hype.
The fun didn’t stop there, either! Last weekend, I played in polocrosse test matches against Ireland as part of the UK men’s team.
In a previous blog, I wrote about my top horse, Breeze, being injured. With these tests forming a large part of selection for the 2019 Polocrosse World Cup to be held in Australia, I turned to my faithful old gelding, Banjo. He didn’t let me down, and not only did the team win both our games, but Banjo also received champion horse of the series. He is a 12-year-old Australian Stock Horse x Thoroughbred, that my dad bought as a yearling and we imported as a three-year-old.
Since he was four he has played in nearly every national club championships A-grade final and international held in the UK. Standing at 16hh, he is big for a polocrosse horse, but he has all the athleticism and trainability of the Australian Stock Horse, and is an absolute pleasure to play. In fact, he could probably play the game without a rider on top!
His sire, Stonebrook Finno, is a very successful sire in Australia, and his frozen semen is available in the UK, through my UK teammate, Jono Keen, who deservedly won best male player. The UK ladies were also playing, and although they went down by a few goals in their first game, they fought back for a two-goal win on Sunday in a cracker of a game.
In between all of this, the yard has been in full swing, with some interesting horses to work with. We had an arrival last week for starting, which has been bought for an Irish international showjumper. She is a stunning mare, and after viewing a video of her loose jumping, I can see why she has been earmarked for jumping stardom!
A young dressage stallion has also just arrived. He had starting competing successfully before developing a bit of an attitude, which included a decent buck. It is early days, but it feels like he hasn’t learnt to accept differences in his environment or any changes in the way that he is ridden. This means that when things do alter, he becomes tense and anxious, which is when the problems arise. Hopefully I’ll be able to bring you more updates on how these two are getting along in my next blog.