I am currently recovering from this year’s Pony Club mini camp. The Pony Club is a passion of mine and I am the chief instructor for the Bramham Moor Hunt branch. I was a member of the East Lothian branch as a child, although I wasn’t any good or in any of the teams.
Being a freelance instructor means it isn’t too difficult to fit in the horses, but while I am at events I’m missing out on teaching, and therefore earning, so it has to be a careful balance. Luckily I’ve got really nice understanding clients.
I’ve owned Dundee [Dunauger] since he was four. I bought him from an advert in Horse & Hound. He is by the Hanovarian stallion Augermann, out of a Jolie Coeur mare, and was bred by the Welch family in Hampshire, who also bred Coup De Coeur.
Dundee is quite a character but is a very kind horse. He loves being groomed and drinking water out of the hosepipe. He is good in all three phases and loves performing to an audience in the dressage. Across country he is a bit too bold for his own good. He should have been an event horse 15 years ago when it was less technical and more big and scary.
He is a big boy at 17 something hh, and can be quite strong and difficult to hold. It was his enthusiasm for the job that got us into trouble at Bramham earlier this year. We were leading after dressage and so I went for it across country, when normally we go quite steady.
He got away from me a bit and was tending to run through the bridle. About 3/4 of the way round the course there was a downhill combination. I had been concerned about element c when I walked the course as it was on the angle. I had my mind so set on element c that he locked straight on and jumped a and c, but missed element b in the middle. He didn’t know he had done anything wrong and was really shocked when I pulled him up.
Because he jumped part c before part b there was nothing I could do to correct our mistake and we were eliminated. I couldn’t face hacking him back through the crowd as I felt so embarrassed, so we walked the long way home which gave me time to compose myself before having to face family and friends.
At Burghley there will be no heroics. I will be focussing on a nice steady round aiming for our first 4-star completion. I’m really looking forward to it. Dundee went to Burghley as a 5-year-old to do the Burghley young event horse competition. He did a nice test and jumped clear but didn’t feature in the placings; wrong build, wrong colour, wrong breeding. It will be great to go back and prove that he has what it takes to compete at the highest level. It’s not all about what they look like — it’s about what they have in their heart!
In the meantime I am off to Thirlestane Castle CIC*** this weekend. It will be Dundee’s last run before Burghley so fingers crossed it goes well.