All the horses had a day off on Monday while I caught up with some paperwork, which always gets neglected between riding and teaching. Then it was back to normal with the riding and teaching.
On Thursday, I decided to jump Nemo [Merlin Nemorensis] before a World Class monitoring day on Friday. I would have jumped the grand prix horse I was taking, too, Ollie, but he doesn’t do jumps — even if they’re in the same arena as him you might as well give up.
I did grid work with Nemo because if I put up a course he falls asleep between the fences and then buggers off with me at them three strides out. I jumped Zep too. He’s only five and by dressage stallion Painted Black; I wasn’t sure how that would go, but I was nicely surprised.
I jump all the horses that will — it’s so good for them to have a bit of variety and not be in the school six days a week. I won’t jump every week, but alternate with hacking and taking them out on the gallops. They need fun in their lives.
Of course jumping Nemo before the World Class day could have gone one of two ways, but he was pinging afterwards and went the best he’s ever gone. The point of the day was just to check up on how the horses are going since their last squad session. The World Class physio and, I always want to say psycho, no, psychologist, that’s right, are also there so you can go to them with any problems.
Squad trainer Erik Theilgaard, who’s also my trainer, was away in Belgium where his daughter was competing. Chief selector Nick Burton was watching instead, so it was a good opportunity to show Nemo off as his piaffe and passage are established at home. A couple of months ago, World Class said they wanted to monitor Nemo’s progress. In the test he was inclined to back off —just like he falls asleep when he’s jumping — and then surge forward. But they were really pleased with the way his muscles have developed in such a short space of time. And he’s been winning young rider classes consistently.
After the monitoring day I was off to The May Ball at Cirencester Agricultural College, which I’ve never been to before but have always heard good things about. I went with a very good friend from school; it was £80 a ticket, which included beer, cider and wine on tap. Nobody at the World Class day could understand why I was eating so much — I call it good pre-planning, lining your stomach. It was meant to be an all-nighter — there’s a survivor’s picture taken at the end — but I only lasted till 4am as I had lessons to teach the next day and needed my sleep.
I had a headache like a steamtraining running through it, but I crawled through the afternoon, riding my horses. Then on Saturday night, very excitingly, Mrs P Manning’s two new horses were delivered from Germany. Mrs Manning owns my grand prix ride, Ollie, and these two are with me to produce and sell. They’re fabulous, so I’m feeling very lucky. They’re both chestnut and I could hardly tell them apart at first. Libertist is a nine-year-old prix st georges horse and Don Vino is just a five-year-old.
After I’d settled the horses in, I sat up with friends watching DVDs till 5am. The plan was a lie-in on Sunday, but no such luck; I was rudely awoken at 9am. I did manage a pub lunch and spent the afternoon drinking Pimms in the glorious sunshine and playing rugby. Then it was Britain’s Got Talent and an early night!