I’m just survived the steep decent into Gibraltar airport on my way to the Spanish Sunshine Tour, which for the uninitiated is a two week international dressage show in the far south of Spain.
This happy turn of events has been made possible thanks to the recent purchase of my international grand prix horse Pegasus MK (see pic), enabling me to retain the ride. This came as an enormous surprise and I’m very grateful to his former owner Peter Bowles, and his new one, Jane Sewell, for making it possible for us to stay together.
Jane and I had the conversation regarding the purchase of MK following a fairly jolly night [!] at the pub quiz in Cholderton, so when I woke up the following morning I thought I had dreamt it! Jane already has two horses in training at our yard, and is launching a new website called ‘Horse Online’, so she’s pretty busy.
As well as MK, I have two other horses to compete here in Spain: Marinetty and Ulia. I’m ‘baby sitting’ Marinetty for his owners, the Thomas family. His usual rider, Sarah Thomas, is at university in the USA at the moment. They were second at the Biarritz CDI last year and Sarah will be competing him at young rider level once she is ‘released’ from school. Marinetty loves to work and is fairly devastated if the lorry goes to a party without him, so he’s here for small tour to keep him entertained until Sarah is back to compete him herself.
The other horse is quite new to me, she’s called Ulia (aka Lolly) and belongs to the Connell family. I think she’s going to be pretty smart, but as she’s never been abroad she’s coming to do the ‘owners’ class. This is an open class at advanced medium level, which is a great way for inexperienced horses to learn about international shows. Every one of our practice competitions for the three horses were cancelled due to snow so it’s going to be a baptism of fire!
The journey to southern Spain is quite an undertaking. The horses travelled from our yard in Wiltshire to Portsmouth and took the ferry to Caen, before making three overnight stops along the way to the showground. According to my yard manager Gina Suddaby, who drove the horses down here, Lolly is fine and Marinetty is taking it all in his stride, but I’m going to need some glue when I get on MK as he’s broncing like a three-year-old whenever he leaves the box!
I’ve got my great ‘Altogether Equestrian’ team helping me here. In addition to Gina, my good friend Kate Rowland is coming tomorrow, MK’s new owner Jane Sewell visits later this week, Chloe Chaplain, who’s my apprentice, is coming out to learn the international grooming ropes in the second week before travelling back with the horses, and last but certainly not least, my Mum, Pat, is also joining us.
I’m happy to say our new lorry — christened ‘Violet the Volvo’ — gave the horses a great ride to get here so let’s hope I do too!