Habil at home

Joanna Thurman-Baker’s dressage blog: this is hard for me to write

Hi all,

This blog is proving very hard for me to write. Last week we had to say our final goodbyes to Nova. He was the biggest, loveliest horse — he would look down at you with his big, intelligent eyes and you would be instantly captured by him. He was the first ever horse that was bought entirely for me, as every other horse has been a hand me down from my sister Samantha. I loved him so much and my heart was truly broken when I had to say goodbye. Losing a horse is never easy and it is the worst part about owning them. I try to be a very positive person and I’m always looking for the good side to situations, but sometimes it’s just 100% rubbish. While I am still feeling incredibly down, I’m trying hard to keep myself busy and focused on the other horses.

After the nationals, we had a few days off before getting straight back into the swing of things with a World Class squad session at Addington. I was fortunate enough to be able to take three horses; Apollo, Habil and Storm. They were all super and showed that our summer of work has paid off. Apollo is now so nearly cemented with all the grand prix work, that the real fun of improving it all can begin. I think it will come together with time and our shared confidence.

Habil is nearly ready for prix st georges (PSG), which is very exciting! For an Andalusian, he moves fantastically well and has such a huge engine. He’s learning to control his humongous flying-changes and his pirouettes are going to be his party piece. He has such a willing mind and eagerness to please, he is a joy to work with.

I’m not sure if I’ve introduced Storm, so I shall now! He is a seven-year-old Hannovarian owned by Carolyn Smith. He’s had a rough start to his ridden career as he was diagnosed with grade 3 ulcers as a five-year-old. Once they were healed and settled, he was then diagnosed with kissing spines. Having undergone surgery and rehab, he is now working towards advanced medium and has been out competing medium with Sam. He is predominantly Samantha’s ride, but I really rather enjoy him so I secretly steal him whenever I can! (Shh don’t tell her). He was fantastic away — each time he goes somewhere new you can feel him getting more brave and secure within himself. He has a heart of gold and despite his previous physical difficulties, will try and try and try for you. All were fantastic in their lessons and I had great meetings with the human science team.

After that, it was home for a few quiet days before whizzing up to Carl Hester’s for two day’s training. I took Apollo and Storm, who both really benefited from it. Storm’s changes are getting more established by the day. Apollo produced some super piaffe and passage work; I know it is in there!

Back home now, I then had a super fun day doing a photo shoot for the British Horse Society magazine. With photographer Jon Stroud and editor Alison, we laughed our way through the day. I can’t wait to see the results so keep your eyes peeled for November’s issue. I’ll give you a hint on what it’s about; think flour, crystallised ginger and mince pies…!

Continued below…

I was super happy to get a lovely delivery from Zebra Products of new Uvex hats to protect my noggin! After my tumble last month, I was in need of a new hat. Having a safe and stylish hat is a must for me, as it should be for everyone. I love Uvex hats as they offer huge support and are a flattering shape. I got possibly the most bling on a hat I have ever seen — it’s like a kaleidoscope of sparkles. I can’t wait to wear it and a massive thanks to Zebra Products.

For now, I’m on the way to Le Mans CDI. It’s proving a welcome distraction from my constant thoughts on Nova. Wish me luck and follow my social media pages to stay updated on how I get on.

Joanna x

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