In the world of showing it has all been about The Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead. This is where all the best of each generation compete to be the Champions. All my horses qualified but this year due to lack of time I decided to only take The Prof.
Personally I feel these classes can be somewhat of a lottery. There are up to forty horses competing in one class and they are all winners in their own right. It is a very difficult task to pick the best of the best. As an amateur it is also not easy competing against the professionals. They often have large teams of horses and staff and they are riding several horses a day. If you work on the 10,000 hour rule they should be considerably better than a one horse amateur jockey.
However instead of whinging about being beaten the amateurs should take a closer look at the pros doing their job and try and learn from them and raise our game. This year The Prof managed to do just that, we came third in the open middleweights behind Jane Ross and Robert Walker, two of the country’s finest. There was a rather large gasp from the crowd when our name was called out but it shows that you should not be afraid to take on the big boys and they are not all unbeatable. Third place is not usually what I am aiming for but on this occasion it was a great result.
We also had another great result with my farrier Sean Wheelan winning best shod for the second year running. This is a great achievement as a lot of the best farrier’s in the country are competing for the accolade. I am also delighted as I know the time and effort that he puts in and it is great to be rewarded for it. Having a great farrier on board is essential and as the old saying goes, no foot, no horse.
All the yearlings are now in for prep and they are all off to Tattersalls. Prepping is well under way and the team of Rory, Sparkles, Elsa, Anna, Dazzle, Glitter and Melo are all happy in their new routines. As far as exercise is concerned they will do something different everyday including a day off. I like to keep them thinking and happy, so they do a mixture of hand walking, lunging, walker, hacking and trotting up the gallops. Not every horse fits the mould and not every horses routine will be the same. They are all treated as individuals.
One exercise technique I use is leading the yearlings from another horse. Personally I think it is great for them. They are led by Big Arch who is an 18 hand hunter. Big Arch is like a grandfather figure for the yearlings, he is calm, reassuring and takes no nonsense. They hack down the gallop beside him and then do a slow trot home. The horses are exercising in a straight line which is better for their joints, they are learning to trot alongside another horse in open countryside and they can listen to the voice aids coming from above which will be normal for them when they are broken. They love it and it’s ears pricked all the way!.
For me preparing a yearling is all about trying to make them as best prepared for the next person who will buy them from me. It is about giving the trainer something to work with so hopefully they will come back and buy again. It is not just about having the horse looking good on the day of the sale, although that is of course important. I want the customer to have the best product. Being an athlete whether horse or human is about gaining an edge and that is what I am thinking about when I am prepping my yearlings. How can I give this horse an edge?
Races can be won and lost by a whisker so if you can help a horse keep a good mind, start his training well so that they are balanced and respond well to aids, that could be the start that helps them progress to winning the race by a whisker or not. I suppose at the end of the day it’s a bit a like my father’s parenting advise to me: the most important thing a parent can do for their child is to prepare them to leave home.