I didn’t get to watch much of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG), but it was very exciting keeping up with it via social media and of course, H&H’s coverage of the event!
Horses and sport can give us such incredible highs, but along with those come the lows and so it was with Team GBR. It is such a long journey to get to the top of any sport, but when it relies on two athletes, one being half a tonne of horse, it makes it all the more amazing when it all comes together on the day as it did for Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro.
My work tends to come at the beginning of the journey, either starting the horses as youngsters or ironing out problems along the way. But who knows, I may just see one of these horses at WEG or the Olympics one day.
One little chap who has an exciting future is Hazelhope Jack. A couple of weeks ago I went to Hazelhope Stud to teach him to load as they wanted to take him to the KWPN UK Grading. A horse’s first impressions of a new experience are key to their future behavior and this is absolutely the case with handling a foal.
At this age a foal that has been lightly handled is usually very curious, and Jack was no exception. However, when they feel pressure on the halter, their instinct is to rear, so my first job was to make sure I could move his back legs to take away this option for him before teaching him a forward cue. Then I let curiosity on Jack’s part and a lot of patience on mine to do the rest! In the end, Jack travelled very well to the event and is currently leading the KWPN UK dressage foal gradings (pictured right at the grading) with a score of 77 with only two more foals to be assessed.
In the last blog I talked about a three-year-old 17.2hh ‘giant’ who was very insecure when he was away from his friend. Over the following weeks he did settle and was much better when his mind was occupied and he was working. He is now turned out for his break and will come back in for another couple of weeks soon.
The current star on the yard is called Claydon (pictured top) who was, until recently, running wild with a small mob of horses in northern Kent. I was contacted by the Happy Endings Rescue team to help catch him and bring him home to get him handled and started under saddle. You never know quite what to expect when presented with a ‘rescue case’, but although he was extremely wary of humans, he was in good condition and a nice Welsh cob-type.
He has been at the yard now for a week, living in a large pen we have erected. He has been getting used to the hustle and bustle of the yard. We have started him very slowly by just being around him when going about our daily routines.
Annie and Holly have been mucking him out and changing his water and he has begun to stop snorting at them now! His confidence has been developing and I have just started making contact with him too, with a view to beginning his handling towards the end of this week. I hope he will make a great horse for someone in the future.
Away from work, it was job well done for the UK Polocrosse Team who won their two test matches against the USA. I had a great time coaching the players, but the selectors and I were then faced with the difficult task of selecting the team to travel to the Polocrosse World Cup in South Africa next June.
The season has certainly thrown up a few surprises along the way, but the team selected has a great mix of youth and experience and I am delighted to be acting as player-coach.
It will be a winter of hard work in the gym and practicing on the young horses, but I can’t wait for the challenge ahead.