Lauren Shannon’s eventing blog: Louie gets his first Badminton prep run

  • Well, I can easily tell you all the most remarkable thing about my last week. It has to have been driving to Great Witchingham Horse Trials at 4.30am last Friday with 2in of snow on the ground!

    We had five horses running at Great Witchingham on Friday and Saturday, and we nearly turned around and came home on the second day after seeing the crashes that had happened overnight. I was so happy we persevered though, the ground at Great Witchingham was brilliant and it was great to get a good run in. It was a shame they couldn’t control the wind though, as it felt like you were going backwards across country.

    It was bitingly cold, but with our new truck (the steps thankfully fixed by PAC Horseboxes!) to warm up in and have lots of coffee and tea in, we survived.

    Fat Louie’s in trouble

    My Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trial ride Louie (Zero Flight) did his first full event of the year, which was a nice easy run in the advanced intermediate. He was so excited in the dressage, as he could see the cross-country going on, and, despite a few silly mistakes, he scored a respectable 34. He then jumped round the showjumping and cross-country (pictured) perfectly, finishing in seventh. It was great to be able to finally run him, especially as it is getting harder to keep his fitness routine going!

    Don’t you just love horses though? I keep Louie wrapped in cotton wool all the time now (hence not running him at Lincoln) and he finished the event brilliantly. We gave him a hay net, stuck him in the truck while we finished the others and off we trundled home. About an hour and a half into the drive home, I heard a big bang and looked at the camera to see Louie stood on the tack lockers in the back of the truck.

    I pulled over straight away and got him off the lockers wondering what he had done to get himself up there. It became obvious when he straight away tried to pinch next door’s hay net. Of course, the so-called “Fat Louie” was being greedy and getting himself in trouble.

    He was none the worse for wear, but to be safe he went straight to Flawborough Equine for a spa trip and to have the physio look at him. Emma, who runs Flawborough, was a great help last year when Louie was injured and he is her biggest fan as he gets loads of carrots while stood in the spa.

    As for the others at Great Witchingham, Quality Purdey did a great double clear for 8th place in the novice, but the others had a mixed weekend. Holly (Riffala Du Buisson) flew round double clear except she got stuck in the mud in front of the trakehner and tipped me off as she jumped it! I hopped on and finished fine, but it was just a bit of bad luck.

    Crunchie (Kilcannon Watlings Crunch) was great in the intermediate, but didn’t score as well in her dressage as I’d like. She jumped a fab showjumping round, with me relaxing and putting her too deep to the last for one down. Again, she is a machine cross-country so flew round. I went home thinking I’d get her test sheet the next day when we were back, and when I did I saw we’d been eliminated cross-country. Apparently we jumped the wrong fence, but I took her round after Louie and he did all the right fences so I’m at a bit of a loss on that one! Might put it down to brain freeze?

    Time for swimming

    Louie also swam for the first time in his fitness programme last week. I love swimming him as he is naturally a good swimmer and easy to do in the pool. The only problem is that with the temperature staying so close to freezing at the minute, we are struggling to use the pool. Obviously, the pool isn’t heated (the horses would probably get too warm swimming then) but getting them out into this sort of temperature isn’t great for their muscles, especially with the wind chill.

    Our local gallops (all three that I could use) have been shut with snow drifts across them this week. I am hoping to get Louie cantering today, if not we will have to look at travelling further to find somewhere to run him.

    So basically now, like everyone else, I am praying that Burnham Market will run this weekend. Fingers crossed, and no-one mention the words heat and wave in the same sentence or you’ll jinx us forever!


    Full report from Great Witchingham in H&H this week, out Thursday, 28 March.

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