We had a really good run at Belton last weekend. I needed to get a qualifying run in the advanced, and although I knew Joe could do it, it did play on my mind that if something silly happened the dream would be over. But I kept telling myself to just go out and get the job done.
Joe was feeling great, fresh and excited to be out but obedient and well-mannered at the same time. He did a nice dressage and got his best advanced mark to date of 30.9. I was really pleased, because I still think there’s more to come, so we will be training really hard to strive for those extra marks ready for Badminton.
On the Saturday at Belton I only had my dressage (left), and in the afternoon I was asked by Stuart Buntine to give a course-walk to all the event’s sponsors and associates.
The following day, Joe showjumped well, just having one down. It was a little annoying at the time, but he has been jumping well, so I was still smiling going into the cross-country. So after walking the course explaining how to ride each fence the previous day, I thought I had better make sure I did a good job.
But as soon as I left the start box I knew it wouldn’t be too difficult — Joe seemed to be on autopilot (top right), with his ears firmly pointing towards the next fence, so my job was simply controlling the speed. I feel so grateful to be riding such a brilliant horse. I finished the course smiling, knowing we are that bit closer now to the dream.
I also had a really good ride on my other horse Guna Be Good (“Fletch”), meaning I finished the day fourth on Joe and eighth on Fletch (right and below left) in the under-25 advanced section. These results aren’t just about me — they reflect the whole team’s hard work, so many thanks.
It was also mother’s day on Sunday and my mum was in full support as normal, wanting Joe to run well. I’m hoping she had a good day as she was smiling as much as me!
On Wednesday we took Joe, Fletch and Malin Head Clover (“Alladin”) to the water treadmill again at Readwood, and this time I had chance to go. It was amazing! It is a very good way to help the horses stamina and endurance, getting them to work hard without putting the same impact on their joints and limbs as going to the gallops.
Andrew (Atkinson) takes their heart-rate before and after to check the recovery rate and we compare them to the previous times to see improvements. The previous time, Joe went on for 15min and this time we increased that time to 17min.
So now I have a few events with the younger horses. The farrier will be back for Joe’s final shoeing and I will be off to the gallops a few more times, as well as a few trips for dressage training. And the most important bit will be wrapping “Sir Joseph” up in cotton wool until the big day.
Till next time,
Full Belton report in this week’s Horse & Hound.
Ben will be blogging on www.horseandhound.co.uk every week in the build-up to his first Badminton, so check back next week to read more.