I’m afraid it has been a rather long time since my last blog. I don’t have any excuses I’m afraid, it’s just the winter flying by in a whirl.
For me the winter is all about hunting and I try and get out as much as I can. I am extremely lucky that I have two seriously fantastic horses to hunt; a coloured hedge-hopping machine called Caesar (pictured) and a cracking grey horse called Joey.
We have had both horses for many seasons now and they are old pros at their job. I’ve had some really great days on them with both the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale and the Cattistock. Nothing gives me more of a thrill than crossing our difficult vale country on a horse that makes nothing of the huge hedges.
In between the hunting I have been continuing to ride out racehorses for my brother and National Hunt trainer Harry Fry, which I also really enjoy.
His yard is going from strength to strength with his biggest team of horses yet and they have enjoyed some very good wins this winter. I love seeing the progress the young horses make as the season goes on and feeling them get stronger and stronger up the gallops.
Mum’s horse, Zulu Oscar, gave us a great Christmas present by winning at the King George meeting at Kempton. He is a very fragile horse but he is a classic example of a horse that loves his job; he is a real trier. Fingers crossed we have a few more fun days with him to come.
I have had Kitkat (Another Breakfast) and Ruby (Rubabell Cruise) in work all winter because they had a quiet event season for various reasons, but I am pleased to say they are both on cracking form and gearing up for this season. Archie (Arise Cavalier) came back in to work early in November as he finished his season early.
I started the year with a fantastic week training with Chris Bartle in Yorkshire. I took Archie and Ruby with me and it was definitely worth the 14 hour round trip. We learnt a huge amount in the short space of time we were there and I came home with my head bursting with information and things to remember. Chris very kindly gave me a copy of his book, Training the Sport Horse, which was a godsend and has to be a must read for any rider. He has such a depth of knowledge and I feel so lucky to have been able to train with him. I have taken away so much from my week and feel really enthusiastic and motivated for the season ahead.
I have a really exciting team of horses this year headed by Kitkat who will be campaigned at three-star level again. Ruby will hopefully be making the step up to two-star, Archie will consolidate his form at intermediate level and aim for the six/seven-year-old CCI1* at Tattersalls in June.
I have Lady Venetia Hardy’s lovely Maximus Meridius as another intermediate ride this season and I am really looking forward to developing our partnership.
The Engert’s six-year-old mare, Augusta Firefly, came back to me a couple of weeks ago and she will step up to novice level this year after a really good first season eventing last year. I am quite excited to see what this season brings for her as she gives me such a great feel.
The young guns for this season are Balou (True Blue Too) owned by my aunt, Di White Hamilton, Smartie (Aberdare Lady) a homebred racehorse who I am retraining and my mother’s five-year-old hunter, Captain, who will benefit greatly from some eventing.
All in all it is looking like a really exciting year and I must thank my owners and sponsors, Unicorn Saddlery and Hermione Gayton for their continued support.
Hermione has been on my yard regularly giving the horses physio to make sure they are in the best shape possible heading into the season as well as getting me involved in her pilates classes. It’s no good the horses being fit if I am not!
We have lots of showjumping and dressage to look forward to in the next few weeks before our first event at Tweseldown on 11 March.
Photo credit: Mark Thistlewood