I’m Will Rawlin, I’m 25 years old and Horse & Hound’s 2020 Badminton Horse Trials first-timer blogger.
The yard I am based at is in Wiltshire, where I have 11 stables, a large arena, lunge pen, all-weather turn-out and a covered horse walker. The location is excellent for access for all routes to competitions. I have been riding since I was five years old and it has been my passion ever since. I also enjoy other sports — swimming, tennis, hockey and water skiing with snow skiing being top of the list.
The years of hard work with my team were rewarded in 2019 when V.I.P Vinnie (Vinnie) and I qualified for Badminton. Now it is early February and training is in full swing with Badminton as our main goal.
Vinnie (pictured) is a Hanoverian X warmblood. My coach John Bowen sourced him for me when Vinnie was four — he is now 12. We have a huge bond and he is the first horse that I’ve produced to four-star level. It has been a long time coming as we have suffered a number of set-backs together, which sadly is part of the sport. As a seven-year-old he was very consistent and performed above expectations, but following a tendon injury he spent a couple of years out of competition. This gave him time to really strengthen and we spent the time conditioning him and making sure all was well for the long-term.
Vinnie is very confident in his ability and always rises to the occasion. As a youngster he was eye-catching but wasn’t inclined to actually put in the hard work. Today, he will still find any opportunity to explore his surroundings and use it as an excuse not to focus. However, in the past year at competitions his dressage has improved hugely and his strength has allowed him to develop his cross-country and showjumping considerably. Day-to-day in the yard, he is a pain to wash down as every trickle of water bothers him, but we have learnt to move with him — there is no getting away!
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Last year I had two career highlights with him. The first was finishing third in the under-25 CCI4*-L at Bramham International Horse Trials, and the other was finishing with our best dressage score of 24.2 at CCI4* level at Blenheim International Horse Trials. Highs can be followed by lows as we know and that is what happened; we had to withdraw before the cross-country at Blenheim as Vinnie was below par which meant we were unable to complete. However, he soon recovered and was able to take the win at Bicton International Horse Trials three-star in October.
I am looking forward to a successful season and feeling very positive, not only with Vinnie, but also with the rest of my team of horses and I look forward to keeping you up-to-date with my journey to Badminton.
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