Monday 11th of October 2021
Ian Wills

Marching onwards and upwards….

It’s been a while since I put pen to paper or fingers to keys! Thankfully the winter does appear to be drawing to a close and preparation for the coming season is in full swing.

Since I last wrote, my Olympic Pathway horse Sky has left British soil and returned to his owner and a new rider in Southern Ireland. Having not found a British buyer for him we all now have to beat him! The young horses are now backed and being mud larks as they learn to walk, trot and canter with rider attached and negotiate obstacles in their path.

Hartpury Sky is the Limit

It’s been a very busy winter coaching riders of all levels starting out on their journeys to success and laying foundations for the future. I’m a great believer and living proof that there’s no better path to success than consistent hard work, blood, sweat and the occasional tears!

Speaking of which – I’ve laid a few plans myself for the season ahead. In an effort to try and work through Marli’s stress levels so that he can eventually fulfil his potential we’re going to aim him at some local shows to soak up the atmosphere and learn to focus. Fabulous Fallulah has started cantering and will have a few runs in preparation for her goal of Blenheim 8/9 year olds.  My 5 year olds are getting to grips with the routine of eventing life and have a few easy bus rides at different places planned to build up that vital experience and confidence that every successful event horse requires.


This time of year sadly sees the end of hunting and for those eventers who hunted all season the current mud and ground will be no worries at all. That said I was personally relieved when the Farmer’s Bloodhounds was cancelled last Sunday due to the wet conditions as I runner for the day not rider! We have all enjoyed some cracking days over the last 6 months crossing the stunning English countryside and jumping some incredible obstacles. A particular highlight for me was a guest visit alongside fellow hunting fanatics Helen Newbold, Marilyn Bane and friends to the Holestone Bloodhounds meet in Northern Ireland in January. From when the plane touched Irish soil we were hosted with true Irish charm with nothing too much trouble and had an absolutely fantastic (if hairy at times!) day’s jumping.

Holestone Bloodhounds

My own eventing season is going to start a little later this year in May having been busy helping others prepare not only their national programmes but taking some abroad for their first internationals. So as ever, exciting times ahead for one and all at Team Wills. As Gaitpost eventers enter the throes of early season prep I wish you all a safe passage through. Some key questions to make sure you’ve answered for success include whether your horse is fit enough for the required level and are you as a rider fit enough to guide your trusty steed as well over the last fence you jump together as you did over the first fence?

Hartpury Sky is the Limit

Have you checked all the new rules as that can be a minefield but if in doubt check with BE. Have you been chatting regularly to your farrier, chiro/physio, vet about how your horse is coping with his workload? I always advise that you can never make your foundation secure enough so if you have any doubt check it again. There are always expert professionals and people with more experience at events so never be afraid to ask, no matter how daft you think your question might be. Never assume anything, assumption is the mother of all disasters in my book!

All that said remember to kick on and the best of luck Gaitpost fans for the season ahead, whether eventing or any other equestrian pastime that you’re passionate about.

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