I’m David Britnell, aged 27 and I am incredibly excited to have been accepted for my first ride at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials with Continuity, and to be Horse & Hound’s first-time blogger!
It will be our second visit having finished fifth in the 2012 Mitsubishi Cup (Badminton grassroots championships).
I am a freelance BHS APC senior coach and professional rider and this will be my second four-star, sorry five-star, having amazingly finished in 10th place at Pau last year.
I have a small yard at home in the Chiltern Hills, with the clay soil, horsewalker and horseflies, grass gallops and busy traffic but super motorway access.
Mum, Dawn is my main coach especially for the dressage along with John Whinnett for those pesky poles and more recently, Richard Waygood has helped me to find those incremental gains in both disciplines.
Continuity (Brad) is a bay, 16.3hh, 15-year-old Holsteiner (53%TB) who came to us as a five-year-old (I was 17) after it was recognised he would not make the grade as a showjumper. He is a sweet, kind horse to handle but an incredibly sharp hack with a tasty line in “drop shoulder, about face” which makes my neck strap essential. He has the softest mouth, pees on command (story for later there) and has the heart of a lion cross-country — my best friend.
Mum competed but now coaches, fits saddles and runs a Land Rover spares company with my dad Tim, and is my groom and coach. Roxanne, my sister, went to the BE100 under-18 championships for the Central team but is now a professional falconer! Grandma (Gma) Sue is home support and often knows the scores at a competition before we do.
Day-to-day I coach and ride all comers but have a particularly strong base in Pony Clubs (PC), which is where I learned my trade. We did not have the money and horsepower to do juniors and young riders so I went to PC area competitions and championships before steadily finding out we had the ability to climb the British Eventing/FEI ladder. The friendships I made in PC then are still strong.
A particular highlight of my journey with Brad was the season I spent riding in three of the Event Rider Masters legs. The other riders were fantastically helpful to me and the buzz was incredible so I would love to do more. The low point was Brad injuring his thorasic sling in a schooling fall at Tweseldown before Blenheim in 2017.
After Pau 2018, three PC families made funds available to buy two horses and although I have already found one, I am still looking for one more.
At home I have just the three event horses but I also ride for others including Ali Reid-Davies on her lovely home-bred Osbourne Stardust. Continuum (Anton), a six-year-old, is co-owned with Gma and then I also have CFS Why Me (Louis), another six-year-old who is the new kid on the block despite his grey colour (another story there!).
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The 27-year-old put in a superb first four-star performance in France this autumn and is aiming high for next season
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Brad had his first run at Tweseldown in the advanced intermediate a couple of weeks ago where he was outrageously naughty in the dressage as he had not been out anywhere since Pau. We always give him an easy winter, but then the equine flu was very close to us and then he had a sinus infection. I rode the cross-country quietly but he felt as keen as ever and now we are in the run up to our second visit to beautiful Belton. I can never get over the fantastic access we get to such places — it makes each event a mini-holiday!
I‘ll bring you more news next week when I (hopefully) shall have two more obedient advanced medium tests to report on!
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