Badminton Horse Trials blog: Ben Hobday goes to the gallops

  • Things are still busy here at the yard, as I have been to the gallops twice since my last blog and also showjumping and cross-country schooling, along with the normal jobs. We also clipped a new arrival and have been getting all the paperwork sorted for the season ahead.

    So it was off to the gallops last Thursday for my Mitusbishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials ride Uptons Who’s (“Joe”) first canter. Before we set off he went on the horse walker in the morning and also hacked out, then had his equissage machine on for 20min before we left.

    To say Joe was excited when we got there might have been an understatement, as he marched up the lane towards the canter track.

    The gallops I use are a large oval with a pull up a hill which then meets the oval at the top and levels out. I normally do interval training incorporating canters up a 45-degree hill with most of my horses, and as they get fitter I increase the time they are working for between the rest periods.

    For Joe’s first canter session I didn’t want to do too much, so after we warmed up, I started with three lots of three minutes, with a rest in between of two minutes where Joe could catch his breath. Again because it was his first canter we didn’t go too quick, but tried to stay in a good rhythm to see how easy Joe found it. We didn’t canter up the hill that day, just stuck to the oval and the timings we had planned.

    Joe was a really good boy and it was really nice to be out on the gallops with him, he always wants to keep going, pushing himself to get better and it amazes me how motivated he always seems to be.

    A relaxing hack

    The next day we went on a long hack with Joe and his stable-mate “Danny” (Consult Z). Joe is my mum’s pride and joy and she loves to ride him occasionally, so we both went out hacking around the country lanes.

    The next few days over the weekend we spent in the school. On the first day we did lots of stretching work long and low, also using poles. To help keep us both occupied some were on a straight line with one step in between in each pole, and there was also a “fan” — poles round a corner slightly raised with again one step between each pole.

    On Sunday we went through some movements, focusing on keeping him off my leg and in a rhythm, doing lots of halts and changes of pace from walk to trot and trot to walk. We have got dressage lessons next Sunday so I will hopefully have a few more things to work on as we get nearer to the big day!

    On Monday it was a similar routine as we headed back to the gallops. We did the same amount of interval training but also added one pull up the hill, which Joe seemed to just take in his stride. Towards the top normally horses take a second wind, which is like a deep breath to get more oxygen, and Joe didn’t take his until it levelled out up at the oval. And he felt like he wanted to go again, so I was pleased with how he coped with it all.

    Again the next day we went on a long hack — the more we go on the more Joe slowly becomes better behaved! I also clipped Cleo, a new horse to the yard ready for showjumping at Somerford — she just stood there nice and sweet making it very easy.

    Showjumping at Somerford

    Yesterday we went to the pre-season showjumping at Somerford Park Farm. It was really good — we took a group of horses and showjumped some of them and took the others, including Joe, for a light cross-country session. The ground was really good and had been well maintained.

    We also took a cross-country first-timer, Cleo, who jumped really well and was very bold as she followed Joe into the water complex. It was a long day but all the horses we took jumped well and enjoyed a trip out.

    I’m at home today hacking Joe and catching up on some paper work.

    Next time we will have dressage lessons to report on, we’re also going back to the gallops and farrier is at the yard.

    Till next time,

    Best regards,


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