“We are all looking forward to getting going and hope the weather plays it part having had snow on the gallops today. This time last year, we were all enjoying a lovely Spring and it makes such a difference both to morale and the ground. I remember we had already moved the show jumps on to the grass but we are still in the arena and it makes it much harder with competitions looming.
I will be starting my season off at Aston Le Walls in the unaffiliated class. I don’t want to rush myself or get too giddy in the excitement of being back out on course. It is a long season and stamina is needed both on and off the horses. Twesledown will be our first big outing when the whole yard will be out in force and it will be good to get them going after a wet, miserable winter.
My top horses came back in to work in mid November so that I could get their fitness work done. We have done lots of hacking and strengthening with a focus on their training. The younger horses came back in at the beginning of December and unusually for us we skipped our winter sun break to really concentrate on the new season. We did, however, enjoy a mini break to Ireland but much to Ben’s horror, it was to look at horses (although we did meet Greg Rutherford!)
I am looking forward to 6 months on the road – it is grueling at times but I get bored otherwise. Out of season I try and take Sundays off and do ‘normal’ things but I’m not very good at lie-ins and shopping although we do love the cinema. I always wonder what people with a Monday-Friday job do at weekends!
I still have to sort the lorry out, I love my lorry and she is great to go away in. The luton bed is comfier than my own and I must stock up on supplies. Despite getting healthier over the winter, there will be a supply of chocolate and biscuits for the long journeys.
I have a wonderful support team led by my head girl, Emily. She has been with me for over a year and takes a lot of stress off my shoulders. She’s also my lucky mascot – last season I finished in the top 5 on every horse at every 3-day that she groomed for me. Let’s hope that continues!
I have a great working pupil called Eilir. She has been with me for 3 years and came to me having never competed at any affiliated event in any discipline. Last season she did her first novice at West Wilts and went double clear. I also have a lovely lady called Jo who owns a share in Billy Bounce and helps part time and my mum is also really hands-on. I cannot tell you how important it is to have the support structure in place – the long hours, the weather and the nature of horses means you have to have a solid team with you.
At the moment we have 10 horses in; 9 will be going to events and we have one back from injury who will be starting much later than the others. Plus we have a few racehorses and pre-trainers that Ben trains. They have got their first run at Didmarton tomorrow. Ben was a National Hunt amateur jockey with Nicky Henderson and he is enjoying getting a 2 year old flat horse going that we broke after Christmas.
Persimmon and Ceylor Lan have had a really good winter. Both will run at Tweseldown and we have spent a great deal of time fine tuning things so it will be interesting to see how they have come on.
We have enjoyed several educational days at Addington with the World Class Programme. We ran through the Olympic test a few times and Ceylor has strengthened up so much and I am really chuffed with his improvements. He feels so much more established, both in terms of strength and how he carries himself. Persimmon has also done lots of flatwork and I feel they are both on really good form for where I want them to be at this stage in the year.
I can’t wrap them in cotton wool and have kept their routine the same as it always has been. They will be running at similar events to last season and as always I leave no stone unturned. They will keep galloping, are always iced and have physio every fortnight.
The same goes for me – I like to keep everything pretty level and most people who know me, would say that I don’t get particularly excited about anything! With Rio in mind, there is everything to play for, lots can happen with horses and I haven’t got a place yet. In my mind I have got everything to prove, of course it would be fantastic to be on that plane, but I’ll be keeping my head down, working hard and seeing what pans out. It is heartbreaking when things don’t go to plan and I have learnt to protect myself.
I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend and look forward to seeing you on course soon.