Tina Cook’s Express Eventing diary week one: horse choices

  • I first heard about Express Eventing when organiser Stuart Buntine rang me after the Olympics and explained the concept. He was inviting riders through the FEI rankings list, which I don’t figure very highly on because I’ve only got three horses eventing. But he said that my two Olympic bronze medals had brought me into the equation.

    My immediate thought was that it sounded like an amazing competition — so exciting and with fantastic prize-money. I thought that I must try to find a suitable horse, who was good enough to be competitive. I didn’t think of Miners Frolic (Henry) straight away — he had just come back from Hong Kong and I wanted him to have a proper holiday, out in the field with his part-owner Sarah Pelham.

    My other advanced horse is First Flight II (Brendon), a 17-year-old who had suffered a slight injury in the middle of the season and has just had the go ahead from the vet to start work again.

    A couple of months down the line, Henry is back in work too and I’m still wavering over which to ride. Potentially, Henry is the more competitive horse — Brendon is likely to be out of touch after the dressage, but he’s a great jumper.

    So for now, I’m keeping my options open. If Henry feels on top form when he comes back from his holiday, he’ll get the nod, otherwise I’ll ride Brendon, assuming he stays sound as his work increases.

    By hedging my bets, I’m making life difficult for myself in terms of planning my freestyle dressage to music test. The horses have very different paces and strengths and I’m probably going to have to work out two tests, one for each of them.

    I’ve never done dressage to music before, nor paid much attention to it, so I’m pretty naïve. Let’s face it, eventing dressage is normally pretty boring, but this could be great fun so I’ve asked Dane Rawlins to spice it up for me. He lives locally, so I’ve been to his once to run through some ideas and hopefully we’ll catch up again next week.

    That’s about it as far as plans go for now, but hopefully I’ll be back with some more next week.


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