Coral Keen’s eventing blog: ‘It might make her feel she’s more Brigitte Bardot than event horse’

  • It’s been a really busy few weeks and I am not entirely sure whether I am coming or going at the moment.

    We’ve been extending and renovating the house and I’ve been project managing it alongside running the yard and competing. I can fully understand why people end up getting really stressed out when they are involved in building projects.

    There is so much to think about and it’s all very time consuming. Every spare second I have I can be found with a paintbrush in my hand or trying to be good at DIY — which I am definitely not. But I do have a new skill; grouting floor tiles!

    The horses have been on great form and we’ve had a really good summer.

    I ran four at Aston-Le-Walls where Cascadelle (Lola), Total Darkness (Ted) and Total Belief (April) were all placed. Then we headed down to Devon to Bicton Arena International; a beautifully run competition that is always such a pleasure to attend.

    The weather wasn’t very kind, but it was great from a competitor’s point of view as the ground was superb and it meant we could take the handbrake off across country. The courses were lovely and organiser Helen (West) had really mixed it up following their July horse trials so there were plenty of new questions.

    Our homebred, April, finished on her dressage score of 27.5 to win her novice section by a convincing margin of more than 10 points. She’ll go to Gatcombe to run in the CIC* which I am really looking forward to. It’s a step up for her but she’s ready for it. Lola won this last year and I hope I can win the trophy back.

    Lola (pictured top) headed an intermediate section finishing on her dressage score of 29.3. This was her fourth run at this level and she made it feel like a walk in the park at just seven-years-old. She’s heading to Gatcombe for the CIC2* and if she goes well I plan to finish her season here having moved up two levels.

    I decided not to put Lola forward for Le Lion D’Angers World Young Horse Championship selection as she is the type of horse that loves everything about her life and at this stage in her career I felt it might blow her mind a little bit too much. She has diva-like tendencies anyway and I think Le Lion might make her feel she’s more Brigitte Bardot than event horse. She’s very much a horse for the future so I am erring on the side of caution and as she was a very late foal, turning seven in August, she’s still strengthening up. She can have her Bardot moment later!

    Highmead Proposition (Jake) did a great dressage test to score 27 in his intermediate section and was super showjumping but he had a bit of a cough during the week so I decided not to run him cross-country. He goes to Gatcombe for the two-star too.

    Peter Holdgate’s Hayestown Clover Quin was also a star with a lovely dressage test to score 30 in a tough open intermediate section. A lot of riders had taken their Burghley horses to give them a quiet run so it was a very hot section. He was fourth after the dressage so he held his own there. He did a super clear in the showjumping with a silly rider error on the cross-country but he felt fabulous. Jumping into the water complex we had to jump a treasure chest but he locked on to another fence so we had a misunderstanding, which cost us 20 penalties. It was a real shame but he gave me a fantastic feeling around a strong track and he’s ready for Gatcombe two-star next.

    April at Bicton

    April at Bicton

    Ted did a double clear at Aston-le-Walls and he went well at Bicton too. He’s still very spooky and I think he will be for some time yet, but I love him to bits and I am sure his spook will work in my favour in the future.

    On Friday we go to West Wilts where Total Belief goes to the intermediate novice and Ted will run in the BE100.

    The young horses at home are going very well. Martha and Lilly-Mae, who work here, both have young horses and we’ve been out schooling them across country. On Sunday they will have an outing at a local hunter trial, which should be fun.

    Recently I had a Sunday afternoon off and went to the Cotswold Water Park where I had my first go at water skiing. It was brilliant and I’ve really got the bug for it and can’t wait to go again. It was a great laugh and a lot of fun.

    The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials looked really tough this year. It was a really good track with the weather causing tricky conditions. It made riders think quickly and if something didn’t go right they could change their plan, as long as they knew where they were going. I really applaud that and think it is a really good way of course building.

    Continued below…

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    It was disappointing for Kirsty Johnston, a really good friend of mine, to have a fall and it was great for Chris Burton and his success. It’s been a long time coming and he’s a beautiful rider. It was also lovely to see Andrew Nicholson on top form after his terrible accident last year.

    I watched snatches of the action from my phone, which was balanced on a windowsill while I painted. This time next year I will be happily ensconced on a sofa with a TV – although at this stage I am not entirely sure if we will ever get there. Back to the painting!


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