I have been having such a great time visiting my family, and spending time on the farm in Australia (pictured top). I love being among the cattle again, and seeing all the foals and youngstock produced from the line of horses that I grew up riding, and that have given my family so much success over the years; I just wish I could fit them in my suitcase home!
Before I got back to New South Wales, I stopped in Perth to catch the Australian Polocrosse Nationals, where members of my family were representing New South Wales. The level of play, horsemanship and quality of horses was outstanding, and made for a great spectacle, especially during the evening games under lights with a couple of beers.
I was very proud of my sister, Sandra, who unfortunately could not quite get the win against Queensland in the ladies’ final, and my nephew, Dan, who came away with a win in the under-16 boys’ division. Dan, who is 15, also won a best player award, and best Australian Stock Horse with the family’s home-bred Silver Hills Pearler. Pearler’s dam was Sandra’s outstanding mare, Doondi Sapphire, who won champion horse at the 2006 nationals. As for Will Weston, my brother-in-law, he won the men’s division and best male player of the whole competition. He has been deservedly selected for the Australian team at the 2019 Polocrosse World Cup, to be held in Queensland in April, and I am looking forward to meeting him on the pitch once again, as I represent the UK! As you can see, polocrosse really is a family affair for us.
After all that excitement, it has been nice just to relax and catch up the rest of the family. It is also giving me a chance to reflect on the past year and make some plans for the future. It is so difficult to get this “thinking time” at home, as there is always another horse to ride, another job to get done, or another school run to do!
I have been busy thinking about the demonstrations I am scheduled to do at Your Horse Live, which will be based on dealing with spooking. I was thinking about doing a loading demo, as it is one of the most frequent handling issues I get asked about, but watching the loading process can get a little boring. I thought it may be interesting to include this video of me loading a beautiful unweaned foal for the first time as part of this blog (see below). The aim was to make the process stress-free and safe for the foal, while enabling his owner to be able to travel him to a grading show. It is quite different working with a horse that has no preconceptions about the horsebox, and it demonstrates how loading is just an extension of teaching the horse to lead correctly.
Being away usually makes me a little nervous about what is going on at the yard at home, but I have full confidence in Hamish, who has been my assistant trainer for the past year. He really is becoming an excellent trainer in his own right, and it is great that I can get off-site without having to stop work at the yard. It has also been fantastic having Camilla Kruger, an Olympic eventer, on-site, and we’ve been having fun jumping the fences that she leaves up for us after her schooling sessions; Hamish is definitely a lot braver over a fence than I am!
Jason takes a look at some of his favourite horses, both that he owns and those that he trains, and
Although we’re both busy with our own work, Millie and I have spent the odd morning helping each other out with certain horses, and we all keep our ears and eyes open to pick up extra tips when she is having lessons from her trainers, Hannah Biggs and Darrell Scaife; quite a perk for Hamish and I. Millie kindly gave my 10-year-old daughter a jumping lesson the other week on her very sprightly 25-year-old pony, Gilly. Rosie now won’t stop talking about how Millie has changed her and Gilly’s jumping in just one lesson and how amazing she is! Poor old Gilly won’t know what has hit him, and Millie definitely has a new fan, although I’m not sure Penny and I could watch Rosie flying over those huge cross-country fences any time soon!
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