Joanna Thurman-Baker’s dressage blog: foals, girl gangs and swapping horses

  • Hello all and welcome back!

    As I started to write this blog, it’s close to 1am. I’m curled up beneath rugs outside our broodmare Seramai’s stable, greatly anticipating the arrival of our next Jameson RS2 foal. She is showing all the signs of imminent birth, so I am on standby to be an equine midwife. Seramai is seeking me out for comfort, looking for a scratch wherever possible. She and I have bonded greatly during this experience – there is a feeling as old as time itself about being present and supportive during a birth.

    Seramai did give birth just a few hours later, to another beautiful black filly. She is full sister to last year’s foal Juniper – and, incredibly, they share the same birthday. What are the odds of that happening?! Her immediate attitude was that of joyful sweetness, so the name Jelly Bean popped into my head while watching her bounce around the stable at just an hour old. So a big welcome to the world to Jelly Bean TVS, a future black beauty with the cutest white blaze and big fluffy ears to match.

    I just love being part of the girl gang that is Seramai, her foal and me. Jelly Bean is incredibly bold and leading her around while she does her one-week-old passage next to you is just so much fun. Having new life on the yard makes every spring day that bit sweeter and I can’t wait to watch her grow and develop over the next few years.

    ‘I’m like a child with a shiny toy’

    Prior to me donning my midwife role, I have had my “dressage rider” hat on. My sweet Sirocco has stepped up so well in the past few months and I’m like a child with a shiny toy, in that he is all I want to focus on; I’m just so pleased and proud of him.

    We’ve only done two competitions this year (I still have that stay-at-home mindset installed from 2020). First was the regionals in February where we got 67% in the prix st georges (PSG), and then Hickstead Premier League where we scored 66%. They are fairly mid-range scores; our tests are smooth and relatively mistake-free, but as every dressage rider says – it’s always better at home. Finding the same relaxation, power and confidence we can get in our home arena in the competition arena is something that we all strive for.

    My scores could possibly be higher if my end goal with Sirocco was to ace a small tour test, but I have my sights set on higher accolades. At home we are training the majority of the canter work from the grand prix – his one tempi changes will for sure be his highlight as they are so uniform and poker straight. I recently compiled a video (below) of him from 2020 and then 2022; the difference is fairly impressive if I do say so myself.

    Horse swapping

    Long time readers may remember a blog I wrote back in 2018, in which I received a foal for my 21st birthday present. Fast forward four years and Frodo has now grown into an elegant horse… who prefers my sister Samantha to me. So like most sisters swap clothes, Sam and I have swapped horses. I now have Iniesta (known as Ike), while Sam has Frodo. Now four years old, both boys are under saddle and doing easy work. Ike is so my type, with a big white face and a cheeky attitude. Who knows – in another fours years I may be writing about him doing PSG too…

    Until next time,

    Joanna x

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