So last week I heard I’d been selected for the young rider European championships. It’s great to be picked for the fourth year running and this time I’m taking Merlin Nemorensis instead of Abira — although I have him as reserve should anything happen. The championships take place in Ermelo, the Netherlands in the first week in August, so of course I’m looking forward to that.
A few people have said to me lately that I compete my horses a lot — possibly because I talk about it on here quite a bit! So I’d like to reassure them that our horses really aren’t overworked. Nemo has just had a week off and, although all our horses do compete regularly, Mum and I sit down with the diary each week to make sure they have a balanced schedule and are happy, with slots marked in for turn-out, hacking and training.
The horses are lunged, too. I found this training aid in Germany when I was working for Jonny Hilberath. It’s a rope that connects either to a snaffle or a headcollar, goes through the horse’s front legs, over the wither, back through the legs to the bit or headcollar. It encourages the horse not to lift his head and get tense over his back, so teaches them to loosen up and let go over their backs. It’s so simple and easy to use, you can’t really get it wrong. This means it’s a handy tool for when I’m away, too, as I can easily ask one of the students to exercise the horses this way.
I’ve been asked to be part of a grand prix music demo at the European championships in August at Windsor. There are eight of us being organised by Jennie Loriston-Clarke. I’ll be riding Ollie and we have to dress up in some kind of uniform — a yellow jacket with red bits on. I’m excited about riding in front of so many of my heroes and such a big crowd, which is also rather daunting come to think of it. Ollie’s a bit lazy but I hope that having seven other horses in there with him will give him a boost and he’ll just keep piaffing!
On the weekend I went to Amber de Savary’s 21st birthday party, a lovely sit down dinner with speeches. I was only drinking moderately and didn’t get too trollied, mainly because the entertainment included a bouncy castle and a bungee run — where you have one to three elastics tied to you and have to run away from an inflated wall, tag someone’s hand, and get slung back again — which could otherwise have been fairly messy!
Then on Sunday I watched the Wimbledon final. I wanted Federer to win to score the record, but part of me wanted Roddick to take the best game he’s ever played, because I don’t know if he’ll ever be that good again. It’s such a test of endurance, to have that stamina for four hours and still be able to sprint to the ball — plus the mental focus you need for that length of time, it’s so tough. For dressage you just need to focus for 45 minutes in your warm up, and then an eight-minute test — quite a difference!