It’s my turn this year to give you the lowdown on how my 9 weeks are panning out to my debut at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials. Hopefully along the way I’ll keep you entertained with the many trials and tribulations that occur with event horses, the majority of which we like to see the funny side of.

I’ll start by telling you a bit about myself, the horses and my set-up. My name is Sarah Stretton, known to the majority of my friends as Stret. I’m 22 and am based and trained full-time at my aunt’s yard (Naomi Franklin) in Warwickshire. It’s called Lazy Acres, hence the Lazy Acres prefix on my event horses’ names. We have a fantastic set-up with over 30 stables, 100 acres of land including cross-country schooling facilities, a 60x20m dressage arena and 50x40m McCardle showjumping arena.

So far we have 11 eventers based at Lazy Acres, including my cousin Amber Franklin’s two event ponies. I also have a couple of horses I ride for Jane Starkey, which I work from her yard in Radway. The rest of our yard consists of liveries, who are fab. We have a great time on the yard and they always come to the events to support me and of course share the odd bottle of vino along the way!

Anyway, enough about me, I’d better tell you about the super star that got me where I am today, Lazy Acres Skip On or “Bobby” to his friends. He is 11 and is owned by my very loving Nanna, Billie Childs (my biggest supporter ever) who never misses an event. Together as “Team Lazy Acres” (including Naomi, Amber, Nanna and my mum Paula) we have so far accomplished some of my childhood dreams. Just got to complete Badders and that’ll be another tick in the box.

Bobby and I have gone up through the levels together so we were both unaware what was waiting round the corner at each new level. We were both members of the young rider squad who travelled to Germany in 2008 and from then on we really came into our own. In 2009 we were 3rd at Bramham under-25 CCI***, the only pair to finish on our dressage score, best under-25 at Gatcombe British open championships and then of course, to finish the year, completed our first Burghley. Although we had a run-out coming out of the water (for which I blame myself, I over rode a tad) I couldn’t fault his performance. He is only 15.3hh, so for such a small chap he made those fences seem surprisingly small.

So far all my horses are on track for their first event of the season. That’s Isleham on Sunday for the big boys, that’s Highbury (“Johnny”, 12 years old, owned by my mum) and Lazy Acres Crusader (“Spider”, nine years old, home-bred and owned by Naomi) who will both compete in the intermediate novice and Bobby in the open intermediate. The youngsters will be going to Aston-le-Walls unaffiliated on Saturday (fingers crossed it’s not cancelled by all the wet weather).

Fortunately the snow earlier in the year didn’t stop us much so all are feeling very fit and well. The fun part is they all started regular swimming lessons at an equine swimming pool near us to help keep them working during the snowy days. We found this really beneficial so we’ll be carrying it on through the event season. Bobby and the others will be swimming again this week so I’ll take a photo to upload ready for next week’s blog.

See you then,

Sarah

More pictures of Sarah Stretton

Read Dee Kennedy’s Badminton build-up diaries last year

Listen to Dee’s audio diaries during Badminton last year — or read the transcripts