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Denman’s diary: exploring the countryside and getting fitter

The past couple of weeks have been relatively quiet as we start to build up Denman’s fitness, while the other horses have been out hunting and team chasing.

His saddle is back from Sydney Free Saddlery and Sarah Stafford (pictured below) has checked his back to make sure all is well, so we can now crack on with his work.

We’ve started trotting and Denman is beginning to move really nicely – the power that’s coming from behind is wonderful. He’s learning to go forward off the leg and on the bit. He has a sensitive mouth so I’ve been trying to find a bit in which he is happy to take the contact – a rubber or plastic eggbutt snaffle seems to do the trick at the moment. However, I know I might need something stronger in his mouth once he is fitter and starts cantering!

Denman has much to learn and is doing a good job of taking it all in as we explore the countryside. He does not mind cattle, but is somewhat surprised by sheep. I’ve just started taking him over gaps in walls – the first time we tried this I had to get off and lead him as he was unsure about going through the stinging nettles. I only had to show him once, though, and now he is walking over the gaps and through the ford by the yard without hesitation.

He is great to lead off and Rival (his second best friend after Fred), who has joined them from his summer grazing, keeps him amused both in the field and on exercise. Rival is a little tyke, but is utterly wonderful, talented and the most fantastic jumper. He used to event, but was rather naughty. He is my best hunter and also team chases a bit, but he lacks the speed of a thoroughbred in open classes. Denman, Rival and Fred (pictured above) all get on like a house on fire and very happily graze together. Rival would like to think he is the boss, but Denman coolly tends to ignore him.

Before my next update, I will be introducing Denman to the school, complete with mirrors and the resident peacock (who has the most wonderful tail!), so watch this space to find out how we get on.

Charlotte

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