Joanna Thurman-Baker’s dressage blog: half a tonne kite flying

  • Hello everyone and welcome to my latest blog.

    As I write this, the sun is up and shining, the horses are happily lapping it up, the birds are chirping and I’m only wearing one coat, rather than three. There is a true feeling of spring in the air.

    However, the past few weeks have been nothing short of a nightmare. Horrendous weather conditions battered us into surrender. The snow did look beautiful, blanketing the valley and famous windmill overlooking the yard. Sprout and Tommy (now no longer puppies, but still as naughty) absolutely LOVED it and were racing about like mad things. But the snow was so bad we couldn’t get the horses out the stables for two days, two weeks in a row!

    Even when we didn’t have snow, the yard would turn into black ice and prevent us working the horses until the mid-day thaw, which sometimes never came. We were forced inside to stop us getting hyperthermia, but at least it meant to could delve into a different passion — baking! My Victoria sponge cake and banana loaf were a hit, but the eggs Benedict was terribly unspeakable.

    Once the snow had finally gone, lungeing turned into an extreme sport — I think I’ll call it ‘half a tonne kite flying’! Alas, I’m not quite heavy enough to anchor down a half tonne horse, so I ended up doing plenty of flying lessons, or extreme jumping as I refused to let go of the rope while they happily galloped, bucking and spinning about!


    Unfortunately, Apollo came down with a bruised foot the week before our first CDI of the year, Le Mans in France. It was gutting as I loved attending the show last October and Apollo was feeling fantastic. But it’s just another bump in the road and our comebacks WILL be stronger than our setbacks! As I like to say, everything happens for a reason.


    Before the weather hit us, I was getting to know my new boy Simba more. He is proving to be the biggest softy in the stable — he puts his head in my arms and falls asleep! He’s got a beautiful, pink squishy nose that is perfect for kissing and likes to ‘laugh’ at me, or smiling for the camera (see video and picture!)

    He enjoyed his first hack and was very well behaved when meeting everything a small country lane has to offer — farmers, Range Rovers, bikes, sheep — and was super-surefooted going up and down hills. While our roads are normally quiet, every now and then it turns into Piccadilly Circus. Luckily I was riding a more experienced hacker, Sam’s horse Sirocco, when we were passed by 50 old style motorbikes. Luckily he was a saint and I think it was more terrifying for me as they came roaring past!

    Also while I couldn’t work the horses I’ve been thinking of ways to have a truly spectacular grand prix freestyle for Apollo. Currently, we have 80s-tastic music, which I love! We have Madonna, Bee-Gees, parts of an iconic movie theme tune and some Jackson 5. But I’m thinking of adding in either some Luther Vandross or Hot Chocolate. What do you think?

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    I also enjoyed a non-horsey day of going on the Harry Potter studio tour. It might have been my fourth time, but it was better than ever! We went as a birthday present for my dear friend Susan, who loved it. Mum especially loved the full-size Hippogriff — I wonder if she could make him do in-hand work?!

    At the Harry Potter studio tour

    Anyways, now that Apollo has eaten his fill of grass, it’s back to work for me. I’m so excited for the year ahead and would like to take a moment to thank my amazing home team, who really do battle the elements alongside us to get the horses into tip top condition — you guys rock.

    Until next time,

    Joanna x

    For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday

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