Joanna Thurman-Baker’s dressage blog: I’m going stir crazy

  • Hi everyone!

    Welcome to my fifth blog — buckle up I’ve got a lot to update you all on.

    Compared to my last blog, that I wrote while on holiday, my current set up isn’t quite as fancy, but it’s just as lovely. I’m in front of the fire (fire in March? Where you at spring?!) with Sprout curled up next to me.

    The rest of my holiday was fantastic. I walked around lakes in terrifically cold temperatures and ate a LOT of food. We had to run barefoot over snow to get to the hot tub — first world problems! Luckily while I was away I missed the ‘Beast from the East’, but poor mum and Sam had to battle it alone without me.

    After a hectic flight home including running through crowds of people in Gevena airport, sweating my bum off in all my snow gear, it was back to work. It was also back to puppy madness. They are so much bigger now — each time they grow they also grow in cheekiness. They definitely missed me and they have a new trick of running into the bathroom before I can close the door and then running full pelt round the house with a stolen item of clothing. But as Sprout is currently fast asleep on me and looking like an angel, I’ll let him off.

    I’ve got two new absolutely gorgeous horses in for training. Both are Andalusian stallions, owned by Flick Haigh and freshly over from Spain. I love Iberian horses — they take me back to my roots as I grew up surrounded by Lusitano stallions. I’m super excited to see how they develop. Both are like fairytale horses come to life and I’m very lucky to get to work with them.

    In other news, I’m BEYOND proud to announce my new sponsorship with Baileys Horse Feeds. I’ve been feeding Baileys for quite a while now and I just love their feed so much. Apollo absolutely thrives on Ease & Excel and I doubt he would be where he is now in his training without having such expert nutritional advice from Lorna Edgar. The future looks bright.

    After a few manic days at home post holiday, it was off to World Class squad training with Apollo. This time it was at Solihull, with judges Stephen Clarke and Hans Voser. On both days I ran through the Inter 2 test, with much more positive results than the last time I tried it. Apollo has come on leaps and bounds in his confidence with the higher level work. A few weeks ago he felt very insecure to perform movements like piaffe and passage in a test environment. This time, he was raring to go! We had a small blip on the one-time tempi flying changes (they continue to be my enemy), but the rest was all pointing in the right direction. I’m so excited for the season ahead with him — we’re both learning but thoroughly enjoying it.

    I love challenging myself to do better, as there’s so much technical work in the tests it’s fantastic to get our brains working.

    I also got a taste of life on the ‘dark side’, by writing for the judges. It is actually a lot harder than I would have thought — hats off to all the writers out there! It’s so fascinating to hear the judges’ thoughts throughout tests and I learnt so much.

    In the evening, we had an inspirational talk with Lutalo Muhammad, a taekwondo Olympian. His journey is phenomenal and his outlook on life was really refreshing. He showed us his post-Rio interview, which made me so emotional. I recommend watching it and imagining the turmoil he felt at the time. I will be cheering him on at Tokyo and hope he gets that gold. As ever, a massive thank you to the World Class team.

    Continued below…

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    I can’t wait for the season to start so I can get back out competing. I am going slightly stir crazy waiting to get back in those white boards. Each day that the sun shines I can see the spring grass attempting to come through. Before we know it, I’ll be on here complaining about how it’s too hot and that I want winter back! That’s all from me for now, but stay tuned for more.


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