Joanna Thurman-Baker’s dressage blog: I’d love to say it went well, but…

  • Hello everyone and welcome back!

    Firstly, how is everyone coping with the January blues? I’ll admit that I’m tempted by the thought of an office job as I haven’t felt my toes since mid-November. While I’m not participating in dry January, my parents are and are feeling the brunt of it!

    Personally I’m not a massive drinker, just partial to the odd fruit flavoured gin. Embarrassingly, I actually had to google what a Jägerbomb when asked if I wanted one once as I hadn’t a clue what it was.

    My lips however are definitely participating in dry January — cracked and bleeding, I should probably keep a lip salve in my pocket at all times. But after the time I accidentally fed one to a horse, mistaking it for a treat, I don’t trust myself with one (luckily said horse spat it out after enjoying the strawberry flavour). Anyways, back to topic.

    Apollo warming up

    Apollo and I were straight back into the swing of things with our first show of the year — Addington high profile. I’d love to say it went well but…

    He warmed up well and when it was my turn to go in, I trotted confidently into the main indoor and he promptly spun 180 degrees and tried to go back out again! The new management at Addington (who have done a fantastic job by the way, bravo) had placed new fake pink bouquets all the way around the arena and clearly, they had been put there to kill Apollo. As I cantered down the centre line I thought, ‘this is fine, we are now in the safe zone where he can concentrate and not be terrified’, but no…

    Apollo in the arena

    He spooked in every corner — in the first trot half pass he had such a scare at the flowers and leapt the other way which caused us confusion (see video clip!). There were so many mistakes because he had too many other priorities (aka not letting the pink flowers of doom eat him). During the in-between bits we had some nice work, highlighting that the training is working, hopefully. He has always been spooky and at 17 years young he is unfortunately never going to change. So I just patted him through it and accepted it as a training round. Our score wasn’t that terrible, so silver linings. As the saying goes — it is a marathon not a sprint and there is always another day.

    I’m very excited to share some news with you all… I have a new horse!

    Following the loss of my beloved Nova, there was a missing hole both in my heart and in my stables. Over the Christmas holidays, mum and I travelled to Germany to try some horses. We have never bought from abroad before as all of our horses have come from various breeders in Wales. It was pretty daunting as I was sceptical whether airport security would let me through with a Uvex hat and wearing riding boots. But all flew smoothly (literally) and we had a fun trip. I didn’t get my hopes up in thinking that I would find ‘the one’ but as it goes, I did.

    A very lovely person once said to me that another horse like Nova would find me (much like the wand chooses the wizard in Harry Potter!) and alas, it was true. This horse looked me in the eye and I knew he was the one.


    So a big welcome to the family to Simba, a beautiful six-year-old German-bred Hanoverian gelding. He has the wow factor and his movement is so big, I will have to do a lot more pilates lessons to build up the core strength to one day sit to his huge trot! He is pretty green for his age, but age is just a number and with his fantastic hind leg and intelligent brain, I know he has grand prix written all over him. But above that he is the sweetest horse — he has been giving me the loveliest cuddles and I spend as much time as possible in the stable getting to know him. He’s my new horse, but more importantly, I’m his new person. I am so, so, so thankful to have him, I literally can’t stop grinning. I’m excited to see what the future holds for us and to document it all with you!

    Continued below…

    The three foals are doing great, growing every day and eating us out of house and home. It’s so lovely watching them grow into their personalities, but wow, do they poop a lot! Is it just me that thinks foals do twice as much as regular horses?

    That’s all from me for now as I’ve got to go back outside to face the terrible cold, but it’s all worth it as every day gone brings us a day closer to spring.

    ’Til 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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