Well it’s official! Horse & Hound has very kindly asked me to continue writing my online blog for 2019. I am so happy to have been given this opportunity again and I’m very grateful to the H&H team for allowing me to share my experiences and adventures with you guys. I’d better make 2019 an exciting year! I’m not entirely sure the hairy mammoth horse creatures in the field are looking overly convinced by this, as the countdown to the final couple of weeks in the field has commenced. Some will come in earlier than others, but I usually work on the basis that everybody gets a good two month’s holiday.
This past month has been busy but incredibly rewarding. When you decide to breed horses, I’m always slightly dubious as I got told from a young age that “fools breed horses for wise men to buy”. I suppose if you want a young horse then buying a smart three- or four-year-old, which is still not guaranteed to turn out as you want it to, as a buyer is a little less risky than trying to breed one. But what I eventually learnt is that breeding will always come through.
We had good mares, who were all proven, and I knew them individually and how they were to ride. This made picking a stallion for them a slightly easier task. It’s something my wife, Victoria, and I have put a lot of time, effort and thought into.
It was a proud moment for us bringing the youngsters in to back and break for the winter — they all showed ability and are trainable (the video below shows a three-year-old, who is out of a three-star mare I had, who was called Noisette Des Pres). They ticked many boxes that any breeder or buyer would have been happy with, and if I’d have seen them in a sales ring, I’d have bought them. But in many respects, it’s much more rewarding having bred them ourselves. I’m looking forward to doing some young horse classes with them in the future.
Former British-based eventer Daisy Trayford recently asked me if I would be interested in teaching a clinic at her beautiful place at Nunda in New York. Having never travelled long haul, nor been to the United States, I thought I needed to check this one out under the supervision of my wife before I ended up like Crocodile Dundee in New York. I survived, but there were a few hairy moments, especially when realising pedestrian crossings work differently over there. I will be returning to New York and will be teaching at the Trayford’s ‘Exmoor Eventing’ base in 2019.
We’ve also celebrated our end of season dinner, which was a great opportunity to say thank you to our owners, sponsors and team. This was also a proud moment for me as it was the day that our donations went to both charities we have been supporting this year, Orchid and Mind — they received £1,561.80 each. But in addition to this, thanks to some amazing prizes that were donated for auction, we managed to top up the total by £3,400. These charities have been a massive help to me and it has given me a great focus this year. The charities we will be supporting in 2019 will be revealed in my next blog.
We will also have all the event horses back in and at the start of boot camp by the time you read my next blog. Unfortunately for me, I will also be starting boot camp and strapping myself to a treadmill. I hate making plans as horses are always so bloody unpredictable, but in 2019 I hope to share with you my return to four-star (or five-star as it will then be known), international travel, international events and some great projects I’m involved with. The ups and downs of the sport in all honesty and a magical mystery tour with fellow event rider and great friend Matt Heath. I hope it makes for some entertaining, honest and interesting reading!
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Matthew’s eventing season finished earlier than planned, and here he gives a review of how his comeback has progressed
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But for the next couple of weeks, my main role will be the same as most dads’ over Christmas — putting the Christmas decorations and Christmas lights up outside! And after nearly falling off the ladder, pulling a few Mission Impossible style stunts, swinging or hanging past the window, you look in to see your wife and children all warm while decorating the tree and the kids waving at you excitedly. You always feel a sense of manly achievement though when you’ve done it. So much you then call the family outside for the big ‘turning on of the lights’ like it’s Blackpool Illuminations. I had to draw the line at the inflatable Snowman though when William was scared of it!
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