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Will Rawlin’s Badminton first-timer blog: praying a rumour is wrong

Over the past three weeks we have been working hard to get everything prepped and ready to go for the season — I even managed a quick ski holiday, which will now keep me going through the season and into next winter. With a lovely team of horses there will be little time for a holiday between now and then!

It is great to be really getting stuck into the pre-season training with all the horses and adapting it to their individual needs. We have been out training in dressage, showjumping and cross-country and also the gallops for the top horses. The work days are getting longer and we rarely finish at 5pm, so the start of the season must be close!

February is when we get a lot of checks and reviews done for the horses. This has been in full swing with all the following having a big tick beside them:

✅Six-monthly dental check
✅Six-monthly hard feed review analysis and horse’s weight recorded
✅Lorry serviced
✅Extra equipment purchased where necessary
✅Monthly osteopathy dates in the diary (up to Badminton)
✅Quarterly saddle fitting date
✅Clippers serviced and sharpened
✅Last clip done for all the horses
✅Competitions reviewed and adjusted where necessary
✅First entries are in
✅Stud holes in the horses’ shoes

Gemma English, our equine dental technician, doing her six-monthly checks

This week we got our first cross-country training session of the season with V.I.P Vinnie out of the way — he is always over-excited and therefore not terribly focused! The session wasn’t as bad as in previous years — perhaps he is growing up? He certainly hasn’t forgotten how to jump over the winter!

His fitness training on the gallops is in full swing and I am currently gradually increasing the speed, but at the same time asking him to go forwards a bit then come back a bit — this will help him be adjustable in all disciplines but specifically in cross-country and this also progressively increases the elasticity of his tendons.

Continued below…

During the winter I have been exploring what else I could do to enhance my performance, not only in competition but also to get the best out of my daily training. I am pleased to say that Camilla Henderson, who is a sports psychologist, has joined my team. In many sports top athletes have this support and professional riders should be no different. We need to leave no stone unturned and I feel this will benefit me and therefore my team too.

We now wait to see if we all start the season on time or if we have lots of cancelled events as a result of the two recent storms — it is rumoured there are more to come over the next month. Fingers crossed that rumour is wrong!

Will

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