Hi guys,

Let me introduce myself; I’m Louise, I’m 22 and based in Surrey. I have recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth studying business management and I am currently job searching but enjoying the summer to train my horse, Feu. He is an eight-year-old 17.2hh KWPN, affectionately known on the yard as Mr. Feu, or Captain Sensible, and together we are off to compete in our first CCI1* at Blair Castle, in Scotland (23-26 August).

Apart from having one intermediate prep-run leading up to Blair, this will be the highest level competition we have both ever competed in, and not to forget — the furthest away too!

It’s been a huge logistical exercise making sure that Feu and I are both leaving in tip top condition and prepped, ready to run.

The past four weeks we’ve been upping our training programme, going to the gallops twice a week to prepare for the longer cross-country course and the infamous Scottish hills!

As well as this, we’ve been filling the past two weeks with more intensive training. Feu is an absolute machine of a jumper and so this season we have racked up a pretty consistent showjumping record, as well as a pretty good cross-country record (with a few blips early on due to having no brakes). The dressage phase requires a lot of work on both our parts and so we’ve slotted in a couple of dressage lessons with my fabulous trainer Sara-Jane Lanning, fine tuning our test for Blair.

For 14 months now, we’ve been based with Cressy and Stuart Neads, who are international showjumpers and travel globally. As evidence by our showjumping record, Cressy has worked absolute wonders with the both of us, and it’s fantastic that she has previously evented herself at Badminton and Burghley as Cressy Clague-Reading. She’s been a fountain of knowledge for us, passing me on all of her tips for Blair and we will be having a couple of tune up sessions with her before we leave.

With the green light on for our trip to Blair, these coming weeks have also been filled with making sure we are able and set to make the long 500+ mile journey. Our wonderful mechanics, Agricom have been out to check that the lorry is in good nick ready for the journey there — bearing in mind we’ll be transporting Feu, myself, mum, dad, our two dogs and all of our kit. We’ve been stocking up the lorry with all of the items we will need as well as ordering a gazebo so that we can eat by the lorry come rain or shine, and a grill to cook the food — the lorry is fully kitted out inside but with three of us sleeping in there and two dogs, cooking is going to make it a tight squeeze.

I’ve also been tasked with making a set of curtains for the lorry to stop the light coming in through the cab, so soon it will be time to whip out the sewing machine and attempt to remember how to make curtains thanks to my year nine textiles skills! It’s also a case of trying to figure out a way to stop our 11-month-old Parsons terrier puppy from joining us in bed at the early hours of the morning, which could add to my challenges.

One of the last jobs we have to do is a trip to our local equestrian suppliers to get all of those things that you find you still need; more studs, hairnets, buckets…

This adventure is of great excitement to us and I hope that you will follow us on our journey and I will keep updated each step of the way.

Louise

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