Kirstie Leightley’s international showjumping vlog: a great start, an exciting new ride and looking forward to some sun

Hi everyone,

I hope you are all well and getting back into the swing of things — I can’t believe we are in February already!

It’s all back to business here at Team Williams and our first show for 2019 was at Sentower two-star in Belgium, where I had my main girl Thais back returning from her holidays and new ride Sunshine de la Love. I’ve watched this horse with a good friend for a while and always loved her, but never thought I would get the chance to ride her. So to say I was excited to pick her up a week before the show, was an understatement!

I am sometimes lucky enough to get Betty to help me out at shows, and it was great to have her at Sentower. She did an awesome job capturing all the show on camera, not just the jumping rounds, so I hope you enjoy this week’s vlog with full behind the scenes access. Sentower is a great venue and again I think the vlog shows it off quite well.

While watching the footage back, I really noticed how much Guy is there as a support throughout the shows. To have someone like him on the floor, giving me advice from the course walk, warm-up, as I wait to go in and a de-brief afterwards, is invaluable, and I would urge any young rider interested in pursuing showjumping to try and base themselves at a yard — there is so much to learn!

Me with Guy

As shown, both mares jumped really well. With it being Thais’ first show back, we didn’t expect too much from her, but she was good throughout. The other mare, Sunshine de la Love, put in some great rounds and had two top 10 placings in the 1.35m — a great start to the year.

You will see from the videos that the two mares are pretty similar and interestingly Sunshine has very similar Selle Francais breeding to Thais. She is only tiny but a typical blood chestnut mare and quite sharp — again just like Thais! The plan for her this year is to jump some ranking classes and run her alongside my others.

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In terms of my plans for Thais, I’m aiming her at some more Derby classes. We’re looking to head back to the Speed Derby at Hickstead to see if we can improve on our eighth position last year.

The next stop for us is to sunny (hopefully!) Spain, where we’ll be taking some of the younger horses and a few of the older for a few weeks. If the weather is on our side, I’m looking forward to vlogging for you without having to wrap up in all these big puffa jackets!

Until next time,

Kirstie

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